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FRIENDS OF OTLEY LIDO: Ambitious restoration plans


OTLEY LIDO PLANS | The Friends of Otley Lido have launched a crowdfunding campaign for funds to procure the specialist studies to move the Otley Lido project forward to the planning phase.

FoOLs have been working hard on restoring the former outdoor swimming pool in Otley since 2015, when it was announced that the site was being sold by Leeds City Council.

The former swimming pool closed in 1993 after being a landmark in the town since 1924. Otley is a small market town of 15,000 plus people just 12 miles outside of Leeds. It is a historic town boasting one of the oldest town markets in the UK, a staging post for horse and carriages en route from Edinburgh to London (being 200 miles equidistant from both) and a town where famously Oliver Cromwell and his gang drank the local pubs dry on the eve of the Battle of Marston Moor and their crusade in 1644.

The community volunteer group aim is to re-develop the derelict Otley baths into a modern all year-round leisure venue featuring a 25-30 meter heated lido with a retractable roof. Alongside the outdoor pool their concept includes a gym, cafe / restaurant, health and well-being facilities including a new home for the town’s bowls club, and public toilets for visitors to their local Wharfemeadows Park.

Leonie Sharp, Chair of the FoOLs committee said: “We have been working tirelessly on this project for a number of years and are still ever determined and committed to redevelop our beloved Lido into a new all year-round leisure facility. This would be a fantastic benefit to the community residents, young and old and of all abilities promoting year-round health and well-being for their benefit.

“This last 20 months have demonstrated the need for healthier and more active lifestyles. We know also that our town has expanded with many more households coming to live in Otley in Yorkshire who need more facilities to make our town even more special than it already is.”

Leonie said: “We decided to go for the ‘all or nothing’ approach because we must raise these funds to move the project forward. Sadly, if we fail to reach the target, we can't see how we can continue with the lido project and will miss this historic opportunity.”

“People don’t ask us if it is going to happen, but when. We must fund these essential studies to take our project to planning at Leeds City Council, to demonstrate the sustainability, how we can manage the environmental impact, show that we have financial business viability, minimise the impact on the traffic in the area, protect the ecological environment on the site and surrounding areas and manage the flood risk which is necessary because we back onto one of the fastest rising rivers in the country.

“Once we have this phase funded, we can progress to planning and then following approval we can approach the larger funding bodies such as Lottery Funding and Sports England and government funding grants.”

Lidos up and down the country have enjoyed a boom with a resurgence in outdoor swimming and healthier lifestyles. Plenty of other Lidos are on their way or have achieved their funding aims and are looking at being restored such as Hull’s restored Albert Avenue Baths and Cumbria’s Grange Lido which has just been given the approval to move forward.

Leonie said: “We meet regularly with the National Lido community and know we can achieve this but must have the community support to move this forward. We are asking all our supporters, near and far to help us Make a Big Splash!”

For more details on the Otley Lido, click here.

For more Leeds TV features, click here.

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