Rushmoor Borough Council reviews historic Aldershot Lido and looks into water park and minigolf proposals in bid to attract more visitors and boost profits
A water park could replace Aldershot Lido, under Rushmoor Borough Council plans to attract more visitors to the costly facility.
As part of a review of the lido, which dates back to 1930, five possible options for running it in the future will be presented to the public for feedback in the coming months.
One suggestion is replacing the lido outdoor pool with a shallow splash pad with fountains for children and a play park, plus a minigolf course as a separate, chargeable attraction.
The splash pad would be two thirds the size of the current pool, potentially making it the largest of its kind in the UK.
The lido costs the council £180,000 per year, although £13,000 is paid by contract company DC Leisure, and has been visited an average of 16,000 times per year since 2008.
Like many council-owned leisure facilities around the country, it is a loss-making attraction.
It is thought that the new splash park would attract around 86,000 visitors, and would cost £68,000 per year to run.
Other options to be presented to the public are retaining the lido while adding low-cost attractions, such as animal petting, to increase visitor numbers at a slightly increased running cost of £195,000 per year, or removing the lido altogether and turning it into a public park costing just £25,000 per year.
Another option is allowing it to be run by a community enterprise, as seen at other lidos in the country. However, there are question marks about how sustainable this would be as council funding may still be required.
Peter Amies, the council’s head of communities, said: “What we’ve got at the moment is low levels of usage at a facility that is closed for most of the year.
“Like every council, we can’t afford to waste money, but the lido encourages a healthy lifestyle and keeps young people out of mischief. Clearly something of this ilk would do the same but for a lot more people.
“You’ve got to have closing the lido as a potential - it would be doing a disservice to the public to not have that in the list - but members are of the opinion that won’t happen. We are also inviting the public to make their own suggestions.”
The advantages of the splash park would be that it would remain open daily for 26 weeks a year, as opposed to just the summer period. The minigolf course would remain open all year round.
The overall capital cost of creating the splash area, minigolf and playground would be £1.8 million, and further investigation is needed to determine whether the council would meet this cost alone or seek external investment from private companies.
The council has met with representatives of BGL Leisure, which operates the Pirate Island adventure golf course at Woking’s Hoebridge Golf Centre, which has expressed an interest in doing the same in Aldershot.
“Apparently people are queueing up to play it at Hoebridge,” said Mr Amies.
Allowing an external company to operate the course would reduce the council’s income and it is therefore uncertain whether this would be the preferred scheme.
If the splash park option is backed by the public, it could be in place by the summer of 2015.
Since 70% of all visitors currently travel from outside the borough, discounts may also be offered to Rushmoor residents.
Heating the outdoor pool or adding a high ropes course or artificial surf wave machine were also considered as options but were not considered financially viable.