The £60 million Commonwealth Games aquatic centre has been given the final seal of approval by Sandwell councillors – despite a last minute protest.
A meeting of the full council voted overwhelmingly to endorse the project which will be built on Londonderry Fields in Smethwick .
Before the meeting a small group of around 20 demonstrators protested outside the council building in a last ditch attempt to persuade councillors to vote no .
Protester, Sue Turner, a resident who lives close to the proposed site said: “Londonderry Fields is a very small but lovely little park but it’s convenient for the council to build the aquatic centre on.
“Now, I’m not against the centre. I think it’s a marvellous thing for the people of Sandwell but its entirely in the wrong place.
“There are so many brownfield sites they could choose to build on but instead they are choosing to destroy this little green oasis and once it’s gone it’s gone.”
Demonstrators also claim traffic congestion and vehicle emissions from the site will add to air pollution in the area.
Council officials, though, say a number of sites were investigated as possible locations and Londonderry Playing Fields were identified as the only suitable site.
Cllr Paul Moore, Sandwell cabinet member for regeneration and economic investment, calling on council members to back the plans, said it was one of the most exciting projects to have been proposed for the borough in years.
Addressing demonstrators’ fears over loss of green space he said the council was working with the community to plant over 200 trees before construction started and a survey had found it was unlikely there would be any significant ecological impact.
He added the authority would protect Stoney Lane Park 500 metres away and was working with the Heritage Lottery Fund to invest £5 million in West Smethwick park.
Summing up his support for the project he said it was a once in a lifetime chance for Sandwell.
“It will provide a much-needed, state-of-the-art leisure centre. The project will deliver a world class centre for the borough and the site is in an area that most requires it.
“We need to look at the kudos of being the host of the aquatic events for the games, it will put Sandwell on the map and will create an enormous legacy.”
The centre will include a 50-metre Olympic-sized competition swimming pool and have 1,000 permanent spectator seats with additional seating for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games .
The centre will also boast a dry-dive facility, 108-station gym, 25-station ladies-only gym, three activity studios, eight-court sports hall, indoor cycling studio, sauna/steam room and café.
The new centre will be built by Wates Construction and run by Sandwell Leisure Trust.