Community wade in on 20-year plan for Newcastle's public swimming pools

06 Apr 2023

A comprehensive review has outlined a strategic path for the City to enhance and protect Newcastle's five public swimming pools for the community over the next 20 years.

The 'Inland Pools Strategy 2043' sets out an investment plan for Newcastle's network of public swimming pools to ensure they are fit for purpose in the long term, while noting more than $5 million has been spent upgrading and $2 million maintaining our public pools over the past five years.

The draft Strategy proposes the creation of an Inland Pools Reserve Fund to ensure that funding is set aside annually to enhance the City's five public pools over the next 20 years. The investigation has also found that the condition of the public pools will enable them to continue to operate without replacement until at least 2043.

From next week, CN will seek feedback from the community and key stakeholders, including a newly formed Inland Pools Community Network, that sought nominations from members of the public who regularly use Newcastle's five publicly owned pools.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the draft Strategy considered current and future user needs, along with the existing conditions of the pools, to guide future investment.

"City of Newcastle's public swimming pools attract more than 300,000 visitors every year. Independent research shows public satisfaction with our pools is more than 80%, making them just as popular as the Newcastle Art Gallery and Museum," Cr Nelmes said.

"The draft Inland Pools Strategy 2043 shows how our network of five swimming centres service the community in their own unique way and sets a strategic direction for each, including upgrading Wallsend Swimming Centre as our population in the western suburbs increases.

"We're now encouraging the community to have their say on the draft Strategy to help us shape how City of Newcastle protects and invests in its five public pools over the next 20 years."

The draft Strategy was top of the agenda last night amongst the Inland Pools Community Network, a newly formed group of passionate community representatives.

Representatives for Lambton, Wallsend, Mayfield, Stockton and Beresfield swimming centres in addition to a school representative and accessibility advocate were selected via an expressions of interest process to make up the Network.

Cr Nelmes said each community representative is an active member of a local swimming centre and will help share information, provide feedback and advocate on behalf of pool users.

"City of Newcastle looks forward to working together with the Inland Pools Community Network as we invest in these community facilities and ensure they are accessible to everyone," Cr Nelmes said.

"We look forward to hearing what each community representative brings to the table to help us plan for the future of our city's much-loved inland pool network."

Colin Irvine spends most days at Lambton Swimming Centre and said he is committed to actively contributing to the way the facilities are managed.

"These days I coach both swimming and water polo at Lambton Pool and am there most days. I can see the challenges faced by those running swimming pools from many perspectives," Mr Irvine said.

"I have been a swimmer all my life and have spent a lot of time at Lambton Pool. In my younger years I was an elite level competitive swimmer and water polo player. As an athlete, a parent, a coach, a business owner, and as a frequent user, I have an appreciation for the challenges faced by local and state authorities in balancing competing community needs with scarce resources."

Consultation will open on the draft Inland Pools Strategy 2043 following the Easter holidays.