PLANS for a multi-million-pound redevelopment of Kenilworth’s Abbey Fields Swimming Pool including the demolition of its much-loved lido have been approved.
Warwick District Council’s (WDC) Planning Committee granted the application yesterday (September 14).
Work is set to start early next year to create the new facility. This will include a second indoor pool with an adjoining sun terrace as well as a new ‘National Trust style’ cafe which can be accessed by park users.
Those backing the project say the facilities are outdated, and with a surge in demand for swimming lessons since the pandemic, expansion was necessary.
WDC leisure spokesman Coun Liam Bartlett said: “This really is great news for the people of Kenilworth and the whole district, and we are delighted that we can now move forward with our plans to transform an old and outdated facility into something far more in keeping with its magnificent backdrop.
“The additional year-round pool space will help to meet the demand locally for more swimming lessons and will be welcomed by schools and swimming clubs, as well as less confident swimmers, organisers of children’s parties and disabled users.”
The designs follow consultation with specialists and advice from Swim England. They include a moveable floor allowing the water depth to be altered in a matter of minutes to meet the needs of young children, parents and babies or aqua aerobics sessions. There will also be direct pool access via a hoist for disabled people, the first of its kind in the district.
But not everyone is convinced by the new facilities.
There were over 90 objections to the move fuelled mainly by the loss of the outdoor pool.
Campaign group Restore Kenilworth Lido has been campaigning for a full size lido, open all year round, at the leisure centre.
But, in 2019, calls were rejected by Warwick District Council (WDC) which claimed it would not be financially viable or sustainable to do so.
Instead, the authority unveiled multi-million pound plans to replace the existing outdoor pool with a second indoor one.
The group said a recent review to reopen the lido after the pandemic, was superfluous and claimed the council allowed it to become rundown ahead of its eventual demolition.
The group said it was disappointed but it is refusing to give up the fight.
A spokeswoman told the Observer: “Now that we know it is possible and permitted to redevelop this site, we are asking WDC to pause their current plans and consider an alternative facility for this site in Abbey Fields.
“There is space in the current footprint for both outdoor and indoor swimming, with a 25 metre outdoor pool positioned to take advantage of both maximum sunlight and views of the lake and castle.
“A modern lido, heated with renewable energy, would be open all year round. Importantly it would provide the most up to date facilities for those with disabilities; would include a ‘Changing Places’ room and allow easy access to the outdoor pool by the inclusion of sloping ramp entrance.
“This would be so much cheaper to build and would mean WDC could avoid the embarrassment of breaching it’s own targets for carbon neutrality by 2025.”
Other reasons for objections included increased noise, road safety, access issues for pedestrians and cyclists, additional cost to taxpayers and increased emissions – undermining the council’s aims for the district to be carbon-neutral by 2030.
Further updates on the next stage of the plans will be made available on the Warwick District Council website.