Proposals unveiled for £3m investment in ‘much loved’ Tooting Bec Lido

Published: Thursday, November 18, 2021

Councillors are being asked to consider a series of proposals that could see investment of around £3m to safeguard the future of the Tooting Bec Lido.

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Councillors on the community services and open spaces overview and scrutiny committee will meet next Thursday to discuss the proposals.

If they back the scheme, then this extensive refurbishment of the much-loved lido, which dates back to 1906, will move a step closer.

The recommendation is for councillors to support the replacement of both pump houses into a single building with UV filtration system with new pipework, pool liner and substation.

An initial programme of works to deal with the subsidence issues affecting the south pump house and replace its filtration system were originally approved in July of last year at a cost of £867,000, but further investigations have shown a need for a more comprehensive package of works to safeguard the pool’s infrastructure for an estimated further 50 years.

Councillors will therefore be asked if they support these extra works which will require additional funding of just under £2.1m

The lido is the largest open-air freshwater pool in the UK. It occupies a unique position in the history of British lido’s due to its size and the era in which it came into being. It is regularly described as the “jewel in the crown” of Wandsworth’s sports, leisure and fitness facilities.

Over many years a series of remedial works have been carried out by the council to keep the lido open, clean and safe for swimmers.

This has included the underpinning of the foundations to the two pump houses as a result of structural movement in 2000; the replacement of the pool liner in 2007; the addition of a new pavilion in 2017; and further underpinning work to the south pump house in 2019.

Every year the number of visitors to the lido totals around 133,500. The South London Swimming Club, which is based at the pool and is a well-established supporter and partner in the lido’s day to day management, continues to grow in popularity, rising from 1,549 members in 2018 to 2,717 members in 2021. The majority of members are aged between 40 years and 60 years of age with a female to male membership ratio of 59 per cent to 41.

Competitions have been held at Tooting Bec Lido since the pool first opened. A significant number of competitions, ‘scratch races’ and events take place throughout the year for either South London Swimming Club members or as open competitions. The lido hosts the National Cold Water Swimming Championships every two years, with guest teams from several countries competing and enhancing the pool’s international reputation.

A report for councillors from Wandsworth’s director of environment and community services Paul Chadwick urging them to support the proposals, states: “In summary, these works will preserve the future of Tooting Bec Lido by advancing investment ahead of any expected replacement programme.

“It will be advantageous to invest in a new and compliant facility, operating efficiently, saving on long-term maintenance costs and a facility that importantly continues to provide exceptional facilities for at least the next 50 years.”

If councillors approve the report’s recommendations, planning consent will be sought for the new combined pump house building.