Plans to refurbish Charlton Lido and build a diving centre have collapsed, Greenwich councillors were told on Wednesday evening.
Open Waters Investments, which signed a deal with the council in 2009 to create a “four-storey dive centre with a 22m-deep, 25m-dive pool, a gym, treatment rooms, exercise studios and a crèche”, alongside a refurbishment of the original lido, has been unable to raise the money for the scheme, the council’s cabinet member for leisure, Cllr John Fahy said.
The lido was controversially closed to the public in summer 2009, just when regulars were expecting to take a dip – apparently so the lease with Open Waters could be signed. It eventually was.
In the summer of 2010, however, the lido was reopened to the public – but it’s unclear quite what work had taken place. I’ve not seen inside the lido for a few years, but from the outside, I’ve not seen much more than a few skips.
Let’s face it – Charlton Lido is not the most well publicised of pools. It’s not the most attractive of locations, either – covered in barbed wire and in a dowdy park that’s seen better days. In fact, you could be forgiven for thinking the place had closed years ago.
So, when I heard in early November that the Open Waters deal had collapsed, I asked the council just what was happening.
The response? A statement reading: “The Council continues to seek solutions for the long-term development of Charlton Lido. While it is disappointing that the development has taken longer than anticipated due to the current economic climate the Council is committed to the redevelopment of the Lido and recognises that this can only be secured with investment from an external partner.”
Did this mean the deal had collapsed?
It hadn’t, I was told.
So, assuming I was being spoken to in good faith, what has changed in that past month? I wonder.
According to Open Waters is in discussions with another – unnamed – organisation about transferring the lease. Rumours I’ve heard include Greenwich Leisure Limited taking the lido on, building a heated Olympic-sized pool by summer 2012. GLL runs all Greenwich borough’s other pools… and ran Charlton Lido before the Open Waters deal was signed.
For some, alarm bells rang the moment the deal was signed – Open Waters is merely an investment vehicle, and with no website, it was not easy for lido lovers to see just who was taking on their pool. Now they – and particularly the swimming club which uses the pool – are waiting to see just what happens next.
Here’s Cllr John Fahy’s written answer to Conservative group leader Cllr Spencer Drury:
Update, 7.25pm: A Greenwich Council spokesperson told the Charlton Champion today:
“The Open Waters arrangement has not collapsed. We believe Open Waters is finding it difficult to raise the bank finance for the project. However, they still retain a lease.
“The council continues to seek solutions for the long-term development of Charlton Lido. While it is disappointing that the development has taken longer than anticipated due to the current economic climate the council is committed to the redevelopment and aims to have the lido open by the summer of 2012. The council also recognises that this can only be secured with investment from an external partner.”