Tuesday, 09 August 2022

No site for new £200,000 lido

PLANS for a new 25m outdoor swimming pool in Wargrave could fail as a suitable site has not been found.

Organisers of the £200,000 Wargrave Lido Appeal hope the pool could be included in a development to combine the village’s infant and junior schools but this has stalled.

Now Wargrave Parish Council has said it doesn’t have a piece of land large enough.

The appeal has so fair raised more than £35,000 but in order for the organisers to apply for grants from organisations such as Sport England they need to identify a site.

They require a plot measuring at least 35m x 35m, while more space could be needed for extra facilities such as a car park and changing rooms.

The organisers asked the council for help but have been told it doesn’t have any suitable land.

Speaking at a council meeting, parish clerk Stephen Hedges said: “Based on the land we have, I would suggest that unfortunately we don’t have land at the moment that is big enough. I couldn’t see anything in the recreation ground and Kings Field.”

Mr Hedges said that he had recommended the organisers consider running the pool as a commercial operation.

They have said they want to use volunteers and that the lido should be non-profit.

Councillor Marion Pope responded: “They are going to find it difficult to finance everything with volunteers.”

Mr Hedges said the solution lay with plans to merge Robert Piggott Infant School in Beverley Gardens and Robert Piggott Junior School in School Hill.

He said: “The One School, One Site project has stalled but sort that and you solve the problem.”

Richard Bush said: “You do have to question the whole thing in a way. It’s an open-air pool but the season is very short. If you have June and July as the two main months and August as a possibility, that’s a maximum of three months unless you have some sort of heating system.”

Members agreed to undertake a review of all council-owned sites to double check if any could be suitable. They were also asked to suggest any sites that are not owned by the council.

The appeal, which is supported by the two schools, holds regular fund-raising events such as sponsored swimathons at the Polehampton Swimming Association pool in Twyford.

Hannah Young, one of the organisers, raised more than £12,000 with a Channel swim in 2014. The appeal website says: “Our mission is to bring everyday swimming to everyone in Wargrave by introducing a 25m outdoor heated swimming pool.

“This will ensure swimmers both young and old can learn to swim, develop their skills and enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits.”

Mrs Young said: “We are always open to ideas and suggestions of where to put the pool, which we have lots of support for.

“I do think having it at the rec off Victoria Road is an option because we could utilise the existing changing facilities and toilets so we wouldn’t need as much space. 

“Once we have identified a suitable site we will then be able to apply for charitable status and apply for grants for the project.”

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