Friday, July 26, 2024

Lambton indoor pool plans move forward

City of Newcastle Council is moving forward with plans for a year-round aquatic facility at Lambton Park War Memorial Swimming Centre.

Community engagement on the proposed upgrades at Lambton will begin next month.

The Council says the revamp could include a new indoor 25m and toddlers’ pools for improved programs and year-round operations, as well as a new gym, kiosk and changerooms.

It follows confirmation that specialist pool operator BlueFit will continue to manage the day-to-day operations of Council’s five inland pools under a new long-term lease approved by the NSW Minister for Local Government.

Council will maintain ownership of the five swimming centres and responsibility for overseeing the seven-year lease, with two possible seven-year extensions, to ensure good community outcomes.

Council Acting CEO, David Clarke said the long-term lease provides certainty for the future operation of, and investment into, these much-loved local publicly owned facilities.

“City of Newcastle is committed to maintaining and investing in our network of inland swimming centres to ensure they continue to meet the expectations and evolving needs of our community,” Mr Clarke said.

“The lease with BlueFit will help facilitate the delivery of a year-round aquatic facility at Lambton Swimming Centre, which was a key community priority during consultation for our 20-year Inland Pools Strategy, unanimously adopted by Council in May last year.

“We look forward to involving the community in what the new year-round facility will look like, with community engagement getting underway in August.”

CEO Todd McHardy said BlueFit was delighted to have the opportunity to strengthen its relationship with Council and continue delivering for the community.

“BlueFit began working with City of Newcastle in 2014 and since then Newcastle’s swimming centres have consistently received high satisfaction ratings,” Mr McHardy said.

“We’re excited to be a part of the planning for upgrades and improvements at Lambton Park War Memorial Swimming Centre.”

A busy program of maintenance activities is being delivered during the winter closure, with Lambton on track to reopen for the traditional early swimming season on 17 August, while the Stockton, Mayfield, Wallsend and Beresfield pools will be back in action during the September school holidays.

Swimmers will be greeted with refreshed and upgraded facilities, with works being completed across all five swimming centres during the closure period including safety upgrades, extensive re-painting, and maintenance of pool tiles and promenades.

Mr Clarke said Council and BlueFit were gearing up for another busy season, following record visitation numbers in 2023/24.

“Last summer was the first season that BlueFit had managed all five of our pools and the community flocked to our facilities, with almost 450,000 people visiting during the season, the highest number since 1997,” Mr Clarke said.

“Under the management of BlueFit, Newcastle’s swimming centres enjoy significantly lower entry fees than pools operated by other local councils.

“BlueFit are committed to ensuring entry fees at Beresfield remain at the 2023/24 rates for the coming season in recognition of the lower median household incomes of suburbs in the Beresfield area. The western corridor also experiences the effect of the urban heat island more than suburbs closer to the coast.

“We look forward to continuing to work together to meet the recreation needs of our growing population.”

The Council has invested more than $5 million upgrading and $2 million maintaining the city’s public pool network during the past few years including the new grandstand at Lambton Park War Memorial Swimming Centre and the installation of accessible changerooms at Wallsend Swimming Centre.

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