Work on the long-anticipated major redevelopment of Settle Area Swimming Pool will start later this month. And, in a move certain to be welcomed by users, the pool will remain open on a limited basis for most of the planned 42 week project.
The £800,000 scheme involves the creation of a flexible dry-side area, suitable for health and wellbeing activities, including exercise classes and events. The changing facilities will be modernised, based on a cubicle and locker model – with additional facilities for families and disabled users. There will also be new shower and toilet facilities. The reception area will also be extended with catering and a viewing area.
This amounts to the biggest programme of work undertaken at the pool since it was constructed in the 1970s.
Following competitive tendering, the pool trustees awarded the contract for this work to the Kirklees-based Adamco company, who have extensive experience of construction work on comparable projects across the region; many of these involved working whilst normal business continued on site.
Plans for the redevelopment have been under discussion for a number of years and planning permission was given by Craven District Council earlier this year. It had been hoped to start work in the spring but difficulties posed by the Covid lockdown and subsequent rise in building costs delayed the project until now.
The work is being financed partly as a result of funds built up over the years by the pool itself and the associated charity The Friends of Settle Swimming Pool. There have also been major grants from a national sports body and from Craven District Council as well as grants and loans from other funding bodies.
One source of funding for the pool over many years has been through the paper recycling scheme run by the Friends of Settle Swimming Pool, however in recent years income has fallen as a result of the ending of North Yorkshire County Council recycling credits scheme and subsequent drop in world paper prices. The scheme was suspended at the start of the Covid lockdown and it had been hoped to start again but a lack of volunteers has made that impractical and the pool trustees have now decided that there is no prospect of resumption in the foreseeable future.
But whilst income from that source is no longer available the pool charity shop opened in 2017 has more than made up for the loss and is now generating income of up to £50,000 a year and as such is helping secure the long term future of the pool.
Trustees’ chair Pat Taylor said: “We are delighted to have got to the point where building work can start. There has been a lot going on behind the scenes over a long period of time so it will be great to see the construction workers on site. Being able to keep the pool open during most of the work has been a great achievement and I know will be welcome by our loyal users.
“This is a community pool and the strong links with local people and local business have been a strength from the days when people worked hard to raise the funds to build the pool in the first place.
“In this new phase we will be looking to strengthen those links. We are grateful to all the funding bodies but there remains a need for local fund-raising and we will be continuing to look to local people for their support.”