Charlton Lido revamp plans collapse

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.”

14 thoughts on “Charlton Lido revamp plans collapse

  1. PlumBum December 16, 2010 / 17:28

    I dont understand why it is open for longer as well in the summer months. Think this year it was about 4 weeks – handy hey. Really under publicised as well, but a shame could be a lovely local gem.

  2. Matt December 16, 2010 / 22:41

    Went there in the Summer. It was all very exciting with the re-opening, however, we got inside and it looked worse than it did before. It was bleak. Rewind two or three years and you couldn’t move in there for smiley people with ice creams and pot noodles.

  3. Spencer December 17, 2010 / 13:41

    I am curious about the response from the Council. When I asked a supplementary question, I suggested that the deal had collapsed and Cllr Fahy did not disagree. The text of the oral questions is below and to me seems at odds with the Council Spokespersons comments.

    Cllr Drury Thank you Madam Mayor and if I could thank Councillor Fahy for his reply.

    Obviously it’s very disappointing news that the Open Waters Plan has collapsed and if I may indulge there’s just two brief questions. I was wondering if Councillor Fahy could make clear when it became obvious that Open Waters would not be able to complete its part of the deal and he started looking for alternative partners and, given the current situation, is it possible that he will approach the people who ran the swimming club who maintains the Lido to such good effect over many years.

    Thank you Madam Mayor.

    Cllr Fahy I am grateful to Councillor Drury for his supplementary question and obviously as and when we have reports to bring forward in relation to developing the new strategy we will, of course, be consulting both with the swimming club and with other residents. We remain confident that, with the investments we are hoping to achieve, Horn Fair Park will become an extremely important Olympic Legacy with support from the Mayor and other funding opportunities which we are currently developing.

    • Darryl December 17, 2010 / 13:44

      Thanks, Spencer. I guess it’s semantics – the deal technically remains in place, but Open Waters has collapsed. However, if Open Waters isn’t functioning, then the deal has effectively collapsed.

      I noticed the News Shopper has taken a more cautious “on hold” line – but if the lease cannot be sold, then what?

      • Spencer December 17, 2010 / 16:12

        I think this is where there could be real difficulties. As far as I can make out, the lease is held by Open Waters and the Council has no way of regaining it currently. It might be possible for the firm the sell it on and I am not sure what power the Council has to prevent different plans being put in place for the site.

        I also have a transcript for the second question I asked – maybe I am just overly suspicious but where does that comment about a tower block come from?

        “Cllr Drury Thank you Madam Mayor. I would just like to follow up with Councillor Fahy on the Horn Fair Lido.

        As an Eltham North Councillor where the Lido fell into disuse and was eventually demolished, I am obviously concerned that this is a fate that could happen to the Horn Fair Lido and given there was a swimming club that was maintaining it for so many years. Surely at a time when finances are tight it would be a good idea to encourage them, or at least give a commitment that you will discuss with them, the possibility of them re-engaging with the Horn Fair Lido.

        Cllr Fahy Well I am very happy, Madam Mayor, to meet with the swimming club to discuss these issues with them and they are very proactive in the use of the Lido but I think there needs to be a bit of trust and confidence with respect but, in affect, we are not going to build a tower block on the footprint of the Horn Fair Lido. We very much hope that the Horn Fair Lido will feature strongly as part of our Olympic Legacy.”

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