Can Ipswich's Broomhill pool project survive cash crisis? Developers remain confident
PUBLISHED: 12:01 07 August 2018 | UPDATED: 17:36 09 August 2018
Plans to restore and reopen Broomhill Pool in Ipswich have hit a new funding crisis – but the consortium hoping to carry out the work still hopes to open its gates in two years’ time.
In December last year a National Lottery grant of £3.4m was announced which when added to the £2m pledged by operators Fusion Lifestyle and £1m from site owner Ipswich council would cover the £6.5m costs of the project.
However over the last year there has been significant inflation in the construction industry – and the cost of the project has now gone up to £7.25m.
The partners are now having to find an extra £750,000 to allow the project to start – and have been given until October by the Heritage Lottery Fund to make up the funding gap.
Tim Mills from Fusion Lifestyle said the company was looking for alternative sources of funding, but was confident that the work would be able to start next year. That should allow the pool to be open in time for at least part of the summer season 2020.
Mr Mills said: “We are committed to the scheme and we want to get on with the work. We are actively looking for sources to close this gap and hope to have good news in October.”
A spokesman for the borough said: “The council is determined this scheme will go ahead and we have backed it with £1m and will be working with Fusion to try to secure the additional funding.”
If the extra money is secured, Mr Mills hoped the contracts would be signed over the next few months allowing work on the project to physically start in 2019.
The restoration of the 1938-built lido, following plans drawn up by local architects KLH, is expected to take about 12 months to complete – and will include a new health club and community facilities that can be used all year around. The pool itself will be heated to extend its season.
Mark Ling from the Broomhill Trust, which has been campaigning to reopen the pool since it closed in 2003, remained upbeat – and said his group was writing to potential funders to help close the gap.
He said: “If you are looking at where we are today compared with five years ago, things are looking much more hopeful. This is an important project for north west Ipswich and I am sure we will be able to find the finding to finally get it over the line and allow work to start.”
The pool opened in 1938, one of two outdoor pools that opened in the town alongside Piper’s Vale pool on the other side of Ipswich.
It was heated – but the boilers and heating elements were removed in 1940 so the metal could be melted down for the war effort.
It remained open from then until 2002 – although for its last few years it was a constant struggle to keep it open.
In spring 2003 the borough said it would not be safe to reopen – and a major campaign was launched to save the building.
The council tried to launch its own lottery bid – but without a partner who was able to develop it for 12-month operation this did not get anywhere.
Finally Fusion Lifestyle took on the project, with £1m backing from the council, and it finally got the go-ahead for the restoration from the HLF in December 2017.
Now the partners in the project are having to look for extra funding to close a £750,000 gap.