The £6.5m restoration project to bring Ipswich’s Art Deco lido Broomhill Pool back to life has reached a major milestone.

Ipswich Star: Imression of the new Broomhill pool. Picture: KLH ArchitectsImression of the new Broomhill pool. Picture: KLH Architects (Image: Archant)

Operator Fusion Leisure has gone out to competitive tender with a shortlist of major building contractors.

Their bids are due to be submitted before Christmas, which would allow the project partners to consider those bids early in the New Year.

This could enable constructors to be on site by early spring 2020, with a view to a 2021 opening.

The project architect is Alan Wilkinson of KLH Architects, Ipswich.

Ipswich Star: New architect's impression of the proposed Broomhill restoration (December 2017). Picture: KLH ArchitectsNew architect's impression of the proposed Broomhill restoration (December 2017). Picture: KLH Architects (Image: Archant)

He said: "I am very excited about this. It is very important for Ipswich.

"It is a very complex job, and a listed building and important for that reason as well.

"On a project of this size it went out across Europe to invite interest.

"From those interested parties a shortlist was selected and asked to bid."

The lido was built in 1938 and has the last remaining 50 metre long open air pool in East Anglia.

Over the years it became run-down and was closed in 2003, but a campaign group - the Friends of Broomhill - was set up to try and get it re-opened.

At one time the town had open air pools at Broomhill and at Piper's Vale on the south east side of town.

Piper's Vale was demolished and Crown Pools in the centre of the town opened in 1984 by the borough council to provide modern facilities.

Now the project to re-build Broomhill has reached a vital stage.

Mr Williamson added: "We are aiming for contractors on site by March/April and to finish the project by spring the next year.

"It is a sensitive and important project.

It played an important part in many peoples' lives and I am looking forward to swimming there again.

"It was the pool I swam in, as a young teenager, in the late 60s and early 1970s and I can't wait to swim again.

"I used to get two buses from Felixstowe Road to get there. It is a fine building and facility for the town.

"It will be lovely to see it used again. I would love to swim on opening day."