The world’s safest library. Happy 75th Birthday to the pool’s sister building, Broomhill Library. Both buildings were designed in complementary modernist style by Ipswich County Borough engineer, Edward McLauchlan. It was originally constructed by the Ministry of War in 1942 as public air raid shelter and gas decontamination centre (and would have been used to treat infectious disease too). It was blast proof and gas proof, constructed of foot thick reinforced concrete with a flat concrete roof. Fortunately never called in to action in WW2, it was converted to a public library which opened its doors on the 31st January 1948. This is surely the safest place to read a book in the world! The Ipswich architectural gem was Grade II listed in 2012.
An MP has appealed for help in the Commons to save a Grade II listed lido in his constituency.
Broomhill Lido in Ipswich was built in 1938 and closed in 2002. A £7m renovation was due to start in 2020, but it was paused due to the pandemic.
Inflation led to costs increasing so the Ipswich Borough Council applied for £1.3m from the government’s Levelling Up Fund but was unsuccessful.
The MP for Ipswich Tom Hunt said the lido was a “huge benefit” to the area.
Broomhill was popular on hot days. The site is on the boundary of the town’s two Parliamentary constituencies
The council owns the pool and charity Fusion Lifestyle has a 50-year lease to operate it.
The Broomhill Pool Trust, which has led the campaign to save the lido, said costs had risen by £1.5-£2m and more funding was needed.
The trust and council had hoped the Levelling Up Fund bid would be successful and enable the project to resume, before finding out it was unsuccessful last week.
Speaking during business questions in the Commons, the Conservative MP said he was “prickly” when he discovered the bid had been rejected.
“There was only £1.5m to £2m to do with the Broomhill Lido, but it is an outdoor pool of huge benefits to the local area, a cultural attraction and a sporting attraction,” he told MPs.
He asked the leader of the house, Penny Mordaunt, what other money and avenues might be available “to push this over the edge and bring this wonderful attraction back to Ipswich”.
Ms Mordaunt, a keen swimmer, said the subject was close to her heart as a 1938 lido was being refurbished in her constituency.
The Conservative MP for Portsmouth North said there would be other funds available and she would connect him with similar projects “to make sure he has the best advice to take this forward”
“I know how much this will mean to his constituents, it’s not just a leisure facility is also part of the heritage,” she said.
Tom Hunt MP (Ipswich) raised a question in Parliament today, highlighting the plight of Broomhill Pool, and seeking advice of which funds/pots may be available to help bridge the gap.
Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP (Portsmouth North, Conservative) Leader of the House of Commons also has a Grade II listed (Hilsea) Lido in her constituency. She has promised to help “put him in touch with ministers, explore the Coastal Communities Fund, and share with him with what she has learned along the way”
OPEN LETTER FROM THE BROOMHILL POOL TRUST
BROOMHILL POOL: LAST CHANCE TO SAVE ONE OF BRITAIN’S FINEST LIDOS.
To: David Ellesmere (Leader, Ipswich Borough Council).
To: Anthony Cawley (CEO, Fusion Lifestyle).
To: Robyn Llewellyn (Director, National Lottery Heritage Fund).
To: Tom Hunt (MP Ipswich).
To: Daniel Poulter (MP Central Suffolk & North Ipswich).
The Levelling Up Awards, outcomes and spread are bewildering. With 75% funding already committed, an outstanding community asset with wide public and cross-party support, Broomhill’s Levelling Up Fund bid should have ticked every box. Yet, Cambridgeshire received £50m, Norfolk £40m, North Essex £40m (the new City of Colchester gained £20m), Suffolk £0 and Ipswich £0.
We appreciate the tremendous efforts and good intentions of Ipswich Borough Council and our MPs. So once the political storm has settled, the Broomhill Pool Trust is appealing to the three stakeholders to consider the many positives of the scheme and what will be lost if it fails.
We would remind you of what is at stake for Ipswich.
The campaign and project to save Broomhill Pool has enjoyed rare cross party-political support within the Borough. This was a celebrated and community-based campaign with wide public support. It had won backing and investment from a top not for profit operator and from the NLHF.
- Broomhill Pool was all set to be restored and works began April 2020, sadly just as Covid hit. Fusion Lifestyle (the operator & project lead) was forced to furlough 3000 staff and mothball 140 facilities for nearly 2 years. The entire leisure sector was rocked. Post-Covid and Ukraine conflict, project capital construction & utility costs spiked significantly. The goalposts had moved.
- However, the scheme has £7m pledged. It possibly only needs another £1.5-2.0m to bridge the inflationary gap to get it over the line.
- There is £3.4m National Lottery Heritage Funding hanging in the balance. This is the first major NLHF award for NW Ipswich. The £3.4m NLHF stage 2 pass represents a substantial inward investment and stimulus for all Ipswich. It would be unforgivable for the people of Ipswich to lose such a massive and hard-won inward investment.
- The £5.5m guaranteed by Fusion and the NLHF (+ £1.5m commitment from IBC) represents a SIGNIFICANT return for IBC taxpayers and in an area of town that has had very little investment.
- The 2009 “All Options Appraisal” for Broomhill confirmed that this is the best outcome for taxpayers and the people of Ipswich.
- There is a substantial cost and loss to do nothing. The pool is grade II listed and built in park land (since 1925). It will be expensive for taxpayers to convert the building for recreational use or to demolish the pool. There is still a continuous liability to secure and upkeep the building.
- It now seems unlikely that the borough will get funding/secure income in the immediate term to fund a new pool at Portman Road. The Portman Road scheme is wonderful but the 25m pool is a direct replacement for Crown Pools, it does not add any additional swimming space. In comparison Broomhill Pool will double Ipswich’s public water swimming space for a fraction of the cost of the Portman Road scheme, and it can be completed and available in just 18 months!
- Ipswich has received around £90m in national lottery investment since the lottery began. Our similar sized neighbour, Norwich, has received £210m with all the extra match funding and benefits that it brings. Ipswich needs positive outcomes, and this is a project that is tantalisingly close to fruition. If the whole scheme fails now – at such a late stage – due to a gap in capital funding, it will represent a lost opportunity of a monumental scale. What sort of message will it send about Ipswich as a regional centre, our ability to deliver core schemes, and the ambition that our leaders collectively have for it?
- Struggling Northwest Ipswich (in CSNI constituency) has secured barely £3m (from all lottery funds) in 20 years. NW Ipswich is an area with two major high schools, two significant pockets of deprivation, and is targeted for an expansion of housing (Northern Fringe). Broomhill Pool is one of just a few major assets in NW Ipswich. This area needs and deserves inward investment and community facilities.
- Broomhill Pool will offer year-round facilities; a fitness suite, a heritage suite, café, and restored lido, terraces, and grandstand, with heated water and a planned restoration to the Wicksteed Diving stage.
- A restored Broomhill Pool will bring additional employment opportunities. It will help promote Ipswich as a destination. It will bring in extra passing trade for local shops and services. It will bring a major construction project that will possibly benefit the local economy, local construction companies and workers.
- A restored Broomhill Pool will benefit ALL the people of Ipswich but especially the young to an enormous degree offering unparalleled water facilities for the next 50 years. Approx. 30 pools have closed in Ipswich in the last 30 years (mostly Suffolk County Council operated school pools). Broomhill Pool offers a large swimming and social space for all our youth and accessibility for school swimming lessons.
- Art Deco style Broomhill Pool is unique. It is also one of our town’s most iconic and loved buildings and it can offer a practical heritage experience.
- Broomhill Pool is a member of the Historic Pools of Britain and is recognised as one of the finest lidos in the United Kingdom. A successful scheme would put Ipswich on the map for all the right reasons.
- Janet Smith wrote, in her definitive book “Liquid Assets”, “Broomhill may lack the national profile accorded to Saltdean, Tinside or Penzance, but it is arguably their equal in architectural significance”.
The Broomhill Pool Trust has worked tirelessly since 2003. We have secured political support, attracted in a respected not-for-profit operator, and brought together core funders to secure £7m funding. Ipswich Borough Council and Fusion Lifestyle have both invested considerable monies and effort to get the scheme almost there. However, this may well be the last chance to save one of Britain’s finest lidos.
PLEASE let’s find a way to bridge the gap and complete the task to restore & reopen Broomhill, and work together to make a great success of it!
Mark Ling & Michael Read MBE.
Chairman & President, for and on behalf of the Broomhill Pool Trust.
VISIT US ONLINE:
Ipswich Star reports: Suffolk MPs and councillors have spoken of their “bitter disappointment” after the county missed out on millions of pounds of Government Levelling Up funding, meaning vital regeneration projects could have to be scrapped.
Ipswich Borough Council Leader, David Ellesmere said: “The council is bitterly disappointed that the Government has turned down our Levelling Up bid.
“The bid would have enabled Broomhill Lido to have been brought back to life and a new sports, athletics and gymnastics centre to have been developed at Gainsborough.
“We and our partners will now need to review the viability of both these projects. While we won’t rush into any decisions, there is no disguising that this is a significant setback.
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt pledged to work with fellow Suffolk MP Dan Poulter, who represents Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, to look for other opportunities for funding for Broomhill lido.
Jack Abbott, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Ipswich, said: “This is a real hammer blow for Ipswich and has put these crucial projects at risk.
“It is yet another example of the town’s current MPs failing to deliver – the Conservatives treat Ipswich as a complete afterthought.
No LEVELLING UP FUNDING for “Get Ipswich Active” bid/or Broomhill Pool.
BROOMHILL POOL TRUST STATEMENT:
“This is a hugely disappointing outcome, yet we appreciate the tremendous efforts of Ipswich Borough and our MPs.
“With 75% of Broomhill’s funding already committed, an outstanding community asset with wide public support, this bid should have ticked every box.
“Unfortunately, 65% of 2021 bids failed to secure funding, and this 2022 pot was triple oversubscribed. Far from being “regional”, the Levelling Up Fund bid processes are as centralized and controlled as they come.
“The Trust will now seek to sit down with Broomhill Pool’s core stakeholders (IBC, Fusion Lifestyle & NLHF). We aim to keep them focused, use their wide reach and know-how, exploring every option to bridge the funding gap, to restart and complete the restoration.
Future Lidos is an informal network of community-led projects and campaigns around the UK and Ireland, dedicated to reviving outdoor pool swimming in our communities.
The group was inspired by the collaborative energy of three National Lido Conferences convened by The Lido Guide authors Emma Pusill and Janet Wilkinson. The group has been meeting regularly since then, and steadily growing: there are now over 40 known projects, and more are emerging all the time.
The National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded £99,800 to the Future Lidos Group for an exciting collaboration, ‘Pooling Resources’. The group aims to “work together to spread the joy of outdoor pool swimming”.
The Broomhill Pool Trust is proud to be an active member.
The Broomhill Pool Trust is delighted to have been selected as one of ten charities (from Suffolk and Norfolk) to share in a £16,000 pot.
The £16,000 is being provided by the charitable arm of Newsquest Media Group’s parent company, the Gannett Foundation.
Tokens for “Readers’ Choice Cash for Charity” can be found in the Ipswich Star, East Anglian Daily Times, Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News every day for four weeks. The funds will be distributed based on the tokens received back for each charity.
The Broomhill Pool Trust is a voluntary run charity; our trustees and committee members give their time and expertise completely freely. We have exceptionally low running costs (hiring Broomhill Library for our monthly meetings, Public Liability Insurance and website hosting, etc). So, nearly every penny or pound that we have collected over the last 20 years is used directly to campaign and lobby to save Broomhill Pool; and to provide supporting data, vital analysis and evidence supporting the restoration of Broomhill Pool, Ipswich’s Grade II listed lido. We also put on regular community events (Heritage Open Days, etc) and have partnered with Community Payback to help clean up the pool during the last 20 years.
To see how the Broomhill Pool Trust uses its funds please see https://broomhillpooltrust.org/contact/ HOW WE USE OUR CAMPAIGN FUNDS.