The Aldershot Civic Society has made a last-ditch attempt to urge Rushmoor Borough Council to reconsider its plans to transform Aldershot Lido into what could be the country’s biggest splash pad.
Chairman Justin Coll told Get Hampshire he was concerned that the proposals, which will now be considered by the cabinet committee on Tuesday (February 10) after the council meeting was postponed for a week, did not emphasise the fact the historic outdoor pool would not be retained.
During the society’s most recent meeting, Mr Coll said his fellow members were unanimous in their opposition to the plans, which he said would strip Aldershot of one of its most treasured amenities.
The council wants to replace the vast outdoor pool – which dates back to the 1930s and was used for the modern pentathlon in the 1948 Olympic Games – with a 3,600 square metre "splash pad".
This would involve filling in the pool before installing fountains and other water features to turn it into a family-friendly attraction, which would share the same footprint, albeit without a dedicated outdoor swimming area.
Last month, the council’s leisure and youth policy and review panel recommended the splash pad option to the cabinet .
“I simply don’t think people are aware that this proposal involves filling in the pool,” said Mr Coll. “This splash pad is a very romantic idea but it has no precedence.
“Successful splash pads in this country are free entry.
“The council knows what kind of outcry there would be if they threatened to close it down – we’ve seen that before. If this plan is agreed, it will close in all but name.”
Five options for the lido’s future were put on the table in October 2013, later narrowed down just to two – one retaining the pool while adding attractions, the other replacing the pool with the splash pad.
Mr Coll said both sets of plans gave the impression the pool would be retained, with the splash pad mirroring the shape of the current lido.
As a father to a seven-year-old, he said the splash pad proposal made sense for families but warned that the plans risked alienating a large number of typical lido users.
“You would look incredibly odd going there without a child,” he said. “It’s no longer going to be a facility for all.
“The lido is an amenity, not a business.
“If it were a sound business proposition, you can bet someone would have taken it on.
“But amenities are important services for taxpayers and it is the council’s responsibility to provide them.”
Mr Coll’s concerns have been echoed by readers of the Aldershot News & Mail and Get Hampshire , who have responded in their droves to the proposals due to be considered by the council.