Royal Commonwealth Pool refurbishment: update

A report is to be considered next week on the progress of the major refurbishment of Edinburgh's Grade A-listed Royal Commonwealth Pool.

The contractors Graham Construction have been hard at work since last August on the renovation, which will see the RCP become one of the premier local aquatics facilities in the UK and the venue for the diving events of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The refurbishment is currently nearing the end of the demolition and temporary works phases.

The report, being considered by the Council's Finance and Resources Committee on 1 June 2010, will provide councillors with an update on the programme of works and the projected completion date.

The discovery of much larger than expected quantities of asbestos in the building has resulted in the contractor being granted a 13-week extension. All parties are now considering how the works can be reprogrammed to ensure the building opens to the public as soon as possible after handover.

Councillor Deidre Brock, Culture & Leisure Convenor, said: "As the RCP is a 1960s building, it was anticipated significant quantities of asbestos would be found within its structure* and the most intrusive surveys possible were carried out. These however could ultimately only be indicative and disappointingly contractors have uncovered considerably more than was predicted. The Project Board decided that the most responsible and practical option was to remove it.

"The refurbishment remains on budget, thanks to value engineering and the securing of additional grants, and further updates will be brought forward in due course to keep everyone informed of how things are progressing. Having taken a site visit recently, I am able to say the sheer scale of the engineering work contractors are undertaking is remarkable."

Paul McBurney, project manager at Graham Construction, said: "We are working very closely with the Council, designers and our specialist trade contractors on what is a particularly challenging engineering project to ensure we deliver a world-class facility for the people of Edinburgh."

*Building records from the RCP's construction period did not quantify the amount of asbestos used. Prior to the refurbishment commencing, surveys were carried out to assess the level of asbestos; however, these were always going to be only indicative until the actual demolition of the structure revealed the exact amounts.

The £37.18m refurbishment of the Grade 'A' listed RCP started on site on 3 August 2009 and will result in facilities including:

  • a 50m, eight-lane pool for community and specialist swimming use with a boom capable of subdividing the pool into two areas;

  • a re-orientated 25m diving pool up to 5m deep with moveable floor which can be used for swimming when not in use for diving;

  • a dry dive facility including trampoline and springboards to allow divers to practise out of the pool;

  • a 25m pool with moveable floor to accommodate warm-up provision, swimming lessons and informal play utilising pool toys;

  • new dry soft play facilities;

  • a refurbished and expanded gym and fitness studios; and

  • a refurbished and redesigned changing village, meeting and conference rooms.

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