Ipswich: Could Broomhill pool be back in use within two years?

Hot weather at Broomhill swimming pool, Ipswich
Dated Aug 1990

Hot weather at Broomhill swimming pool, Ipswich Dated Aug 1990 - Credit: Archant/Paul Nixon

Campaigners seeking to re-open Ipswich’s only public open-air swimming pool are hoping to see people back in the water in 2016.

However that will depend on a successful bid for support from the Heritage Lottery Fund – a bid that is expected to be lodged by the borough council’s partners in the project Fusion Lifestyle in October.

In the run-up to the bid being submitted, members of the public will be asked for their views on the restoration but the Broomhill Pool Trust feels this could be make or break for the pool.

But Mark Ling from the Trust is up-beat about the restoration plans for the pool – and hopes that it will be back in action in the summer of 2016, 14 years after closing.

He said: “If the bid goes in during October we would hope to get the result from the HLF at the turn of the year.

“The restoration work would take about nine months, so the aim would be to have the pool open again in the summer of 2016.”

The proposal would involve Fusion Lifestyle, which runs swimming pools and lidos across the country, taking over the site.

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One of the blocks of changing rooms would be turned into a large fitness suite which would be open throughout the year. The concrete front facing the pool would be replaced by glass panels, giving those working out the chance to see over the pool.

The old changing rooms under the grandstand would be restored, and the filtration system of the pools would be repaired and updated.

The project is expected to cost about £3 million. The borough has pledged £1 million, the lottery grant could come to a further £1 million and the remainder would come from other sources, financed by Fusion’s development of the fitness suite.

If the lottery grant was not large enough to include introducing water heaters at this stage, the water would remain at its natural temperature – but there would be the option of introducing heating, which could extend the pool’s season, in the future.

Mr Ling said there are factors that give the Trust real hope for the future.

The pool itself is in very good condition – although it has not been used for 12 years it has not leaked. “The water remains in the tank because otherwise the ground would push up the concrete, but it has remained full without being topped up,” he said.

The buildings have been receiving basic maintenance – a team of offenders from the community payback scheme has been painting the buildings over recent weeks.

The main pool is covered, but the shallow splash pool remains open to the elements and has been invaded by squatters – it is home to a colony of newts.

Mr Ling was quick to explain: “We’ve had experts check that they are smooth newts, the commonest type. They are NOT great crested newts.”

Officials from the borough are also working on the basis that a lottery application will be formally lodged in the autumn and are continuing to work with Fusion Lifestyle.

However the company itself was not able to make any comment on the plans for Broomhill at this stage.