A planning application has been lodged for the hydrotherapy pool at Roddensvale School, raising hopes that the project will get underway.
Plans for the long-awaited pool were previously shelved due to budget cuts in 2011. However, the new planning application has renewed hopes that the project will finally be realised.
Principal of Roddensvale School John Madden told The Times: “The Board are hoping to put the pool out to tender in January and once it’s out to tender the money for the pool has been ring-fenced with an NEELB commitment to the pool, so there should be no barriers.
“The governors have been assured by property services so we are optimistic. We had a hiccup before so we are waiting with baited breath.
“The Board say that once it goes out to tender there is a financial commitment from them to honour that.
“I believe it will cost over £800,000 and take around eight months to build.”
Mr Madden revealed that pupils currently have to travel for 45 minutes to access the hydrotherapy pool at Jordanstown school.
He continued: “The pupils get 15 minutes each in the pool and with the long journey back they are so tired. If we have a pool on site pupils can access it more frequently.”
Mr Madden says the hydrotherapy pool will have several benefits for users: “When doing physiotherapy they have much more range of movement than with land-based therapy. They can work on their core strength and stability, their muscles are freer and for those in splints or wheelchairs they can get out of those and enjoy the warm water.
“They can be secure and move freely, stretch and relax in a non-weight bearing environment.”
As well as warmer water, the facility will have wheelcair access, adapted changing facilities, state-of-the-art roof-mounted hoists and special emergency procedures.
There will also be a lounge area to provide a comfortable and safe waiting area away from the pool side.
Roddensvale plans to open the pool up to other community groups, such as Larne Adult Centre.
Subject to planning approval, construction of the pool would only commence after current construction work on two classrooms is completed, in line with NEELB best practise. This is currently scheduled for March 2015.
Mr Madden concluded: “Without this these young people couldn’t access water-based therapy as they can’t access normal swimming pools.”