Outdoor pool 'open again in two years'

AN historic outdoor swimming pool enjoyed by generations of families could reopen to the public within just two years, it has been revealed.

By Danielle Nuttall

AN historic outdoor swimming pool enjoyed by generations of families could reopen to the public within just two years, it has been revealed.

A feasibility study, undertaken by financial and architectural experts, says Broomhill swimming pool in Ipswich does not have structural defects beyond repair and could be totally refurbished at a cost of just £3.9million.

It also found the pool could operate without making a loss and that there were operators who were willing to take over management of the facility.

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The results of the feasibility study were revealed during a press conference at Ipswich Borough Council's headquarters today.

The council has already agreed to provide £1m towards the cost of the project, and The Broomhill Pool Trust aims to secure the remainder of the funding through The Heritage Lottery Fund and other bodies.

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This means the pool could be reopened by May 2009, although the trust believes it is likely to be 2010 before it is ready.

Speaking at the meeting, Mike Cook, chairman of The Broomhill Trust, said the feasibility study had produced the “golden egg”.

“The pool can be restored and heated to 1930s condition, further more it's possible to run it without losing a lot of money,” he said.

“We are confident about getting the funding. There should not be a huge problem in our view.

“It will be hard work. It will probably take two years, partly because one of our main funders will be the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“The actual work on the pool will take between six and nine months. It (the feasibility study) might have been some time in its gestation but it's certainly produced the golden egg.”

Judy Terry, the council's arts, culture and leisure portfolio holder, added: “There is great demand for lidos at the moment. We believe it's going to be a very popular resource, not just for Ipswich but the wider community.”

As part of the restoration, the trust will franchise out the café which used to be part of the venue.

There will also be an education centre. However, an early idea to build a spa facility with a Jacuzzi has been scrapped after it was deemed not financially viable.

Mr Cook said the trust was disappointed about this but it would cost too much to build.

The trust said it hoped to open to pool between May and September when it was complete and to install new diving boards, one of the most popular aspects of the venue before it closed.

There is also likely to be a program of galas to entice more visitors and the possibility of professional swimmers using the facility to train.

The trust has spoken to four operators who have shown considerable interest in running the pool and the next stage will be to appoint a firm to take it on, said Mr Cook.

The borough council's executive committee has unofficially given its support to the feasibility study but will do so formerly at a meeting next month.

Mr Cook said: “It's excellent news for the town. We are very grateful for the council for all the support they have given us.”

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