Locals complain over Sandwell Aquatics Centre

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Smethwick residents have raised their concerns over the brand-new Sandwell Aquatics Centre (SAC).

The £73 million project was given planning approval in April 2019 with construction beginning in June that year.

It was initially designed for the upcoming 2022 Commonwealth Games but Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council (SMBC) also said its swimming pools, activity studios, sports halls, gyms and dry diving facilities, would be available to the public once the Games ended.

However, the decision to build the centre in North West Birmingham has seen local opposition.

One local, who lives near the site and asked to remain anonymous, said: “It’s not big enough. According to the council it’s going to fit in 5000 people.

“Where are they going to park the cars? There’s no parking space here. According to them, they’re going to transport people via public transport. From where?

“There’s going to be vehicles parked all along the streets.”

Londonderry Hardware, a business based right next to SAC have similar concerns to the traffic the site has already brought.

The owner Shabir Vohra said: “The effect I’m having at the moment is road closures and traffic. They’re doing a lot of work.

“They’ve closed the road right next to me because big lorries are coming down. The roads are just too narrow.”

As well as congestion, there is also the removal of Londonderry Playing Fields, home to local sports groups where SAC is being built on.

Another local who also wanted to remain anonymous said: “The kids under sevens would train Saturday afternoon there as well as people walking dogs.

“They could’ve done it on Basons Lane Playing Field which does not get used but they didn’t.”

SMBC said they would be “working closely with residents and the local community to protect and improve parks in the close vicinity to Londonderry Playing Fields” as well as creating new football facilities on the SAC site.

However, Londonderry Hardware who sponsor a Sunday League outfit that used the playing fields, raised their concerns over this promise.

Vohra said: “The problem is if they charge people to use. I don’t know yet if they’re going to do that.

“They’ve now moved to west Smethwick Park which is a 5-minute drive away. It’s just here it was so close.”

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