Broomhill Pool was set to re-open in 2021.
The not-for-profit charity trust, Fusion-Lifestyle has raised seven million pounds (£3.5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £1.5m from Ipswich Borough Council and £2m from themselves). Fusion has signed a 50 year operating lease with the Borough. They have carried out numerous surveys and have listed building consent and planning permission. This has cost around £250,000. Detailed plans will now be produced by local consultants – headed by KLH architects.
The aim is to restore the pool to its 1938 state, except that the former male changing rooms on the east side will be replaced by a two storey new-build fitness suite: open all year round.
The clock tower, the buffet, the underwater area and some overhead lighting will be restored together with the listed and unique diving-boards (though only the lower boards will be able to be used for safety reasons). The water will be heated (possibly to 80F/26C) to have the chill taken off. Initially the public pool will open from April to September, but it is hoped that this will be extended in the future.
Pre-qualification and the selection of a contractor was set for early 2020. The pool was set to be restored in 2020 and reopened in 2021. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the leisure sector. During lock-down, Fusion Lifestyle was forced to close all of its 200+ nationwide pools, gyms and sport centres, plus furlough some 3000 staff. Its capital plans are presently on hold and it is having to restructure all its operations.
Restoration and re-opening of Broomhill Pool is set to be delayed. There are major challenges ahead. However, the case for Broomhill remains as strong as ever. With funding agreed and the lease signed, Fusion Lifestyle is committed to the project. The Trust has worked to keep the campaign fresh, relevant, publicly engaged and backed for 17 years. A further delay does not faze us. We will be positively lobbying and working with all stakeholders to complete the task.
Images by KLH Architects, Ipswich