A PLANNED multi-million pound revamp at Malvern Splash does not contain a sauna.

The sauna/steam room has been removed from plans because it isn't used very much despite costing £12,000 a year to maintain - say Freedom Leisure, the firm behind the refurbishment, and the district council. They also said 'improper use' meant it needed to be constantly repaired and blamed its disappearance in part on social distancing restrictions required during the current coronavirus outbreak.

Cllr Sarah Rouse, leader of Malvern Hills District Council, which owns the pool, said: “Making sure our leisure facilities can reopen safely and in a sustainable way is a priority for us. It also means we have some tough financial decisions to make in challenging times.

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"The number of people using the sauna and steam rooms is very low. They cost about £12,000 a year to maintain and are in need of constant repair due to improper use. It is also likely they will be difficult to operate safely for the foreseeable future while Covid-19 continues to circulate and social distancing will further reduce the number of people that can use them at any one time.

“We also have to consider the environmental impact. They use 33,215kwh of energy every year – that’s the same as making 332,150 cups of tea or putting your washing machine on 34,125 times. When all these factors are taken together, maintaining the sauna and steam rooms could not be justified and we support Freedom Leisure’s decision to remove them. The £2million investment in Malvern Splash will deliver a much-improved facility for everybody.”

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The lack of sauna was questioned by resident Brian Chambers who said: "A recent announcement by ‘Malvern Splash’ has stated, in the small print, that as part of the planned redevelopments of Malvern Splash in 2020 that the Steam Room and Sauna are going to be “permanently removed.” I have read the Malvern Hills District Council Sport and Leisure Strategy 2014 - 2024 and can find no recommendation that these facilities be removed from public availability. Interestingly, the consultation on the strategy did not take account of any public involvement although various organisations were consulted."

Mr Chambers said he was "surprised" the council would allow Freedom Leisure to permanently remove the facility.

A publication by Freedom Leisure, which runs the pool, says: “The sauna/steam rooms are also being permanently removed as usage was low and social distancing rules, which are likely to be around for some time, will make them difficult to operate. They were also expensive to maintain and removing them will free up money to be reinvested into the centre.”