St Albans college tapping into hydrotherapy pool plans

Students and staff from Oaklands College's Springfield provision have raised nearly £4,000 for a hyd

Students and staff from Oaklands College's Springfield provision have raised nearly £4,000 for a hydrotherapy pool over the past 18 months. - Credit: photo supplied

Months after the plug was controversially pulled from St Albans Hospital’s hydrotherapy pool service to the detriment of outraged patients, plans have been unveiled for a new one.

Oaklands College, Hatfield Road, is keen to include a state-of-the-art hydrotherapy pool at its Smallford campus as part of ambitious plans to improve outdated buildings.

However provision of the proposed £250,000 facility hinges on the college gaining planning permission for its joint scheme with house builders Taylor Wimpey for a mixed education and residential development.

That application, yet to be determined by St Albans district council, includes the refurbishment of college buildings, funded through an “enabling” development of 348 homes, near Verulam School playing fields, off Sandpit Lane.

The proposed pool would be used by students and be opened to the community outside college term time, as well as evenings and weekends.

The possibility of a new pool has been welcomed by Batchwood councillor Roma Mills, who said it would help make up for the loss of the hospital’s pool.

She campaigned on behalf of local patients to save the hospital’s pool after they were turned away for nine months, after a pipe was damaged.

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But in June this year health chiefs finally confirmed that the pool would be permanently closed.

Cllr Mills said: “I am really pleased the college is moving forward with its plan to include a hydrotherapy pool.”

College principal Zoe Hancock added: “It would give our students a therapeutic environment where they can relax and recover, but we also want it to be open to the community so everyone who needs it can benefit.”

Hydrotherapy can help people with conditions like arthritis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis.

Students and staff from the college’s Springfield provision - a purpose built facility which offers a safe environment for more vulnerable students - have raised nearly £4,000 towards the new pool.