Have your say on the revitalisation of Newcastle Ocean Baths

30 May 2023

The final stage of the upgrade to the Newcastle Ocean Baths is underway with City of Newcastle calling for community input into preliminary options for the pavilion buildings.

Substantial progress has been made on stage one of the renewal, the pool and promenade areas, ahead of re-opening the facility for swimmers by this coming summer.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said it was great to see the progress of the project and encouraged the community to share their thoughts on potential options for the pavilion buildings ahead of design commencing for the final stage of the project.

"It's exciting to see the pool area take shape because this is such an important facility for Novocastrians and the broader region," Cr Nelmes said.

"Before design of the pavilion buildings starts, it's important to understand what the community needs from the facility, and how that could be achieved given the location and constraints of the site."

City of Newcastle Executive Director City Infrastructure Joanne Rigby said City of Newcastle was committed to creating an inclusive community space, while also recognising the site's unique character and heritage features.

"Different building configuration options present different experiences for users, and it’s essential we consider the needs of the broader community now and for decades to come during the renewal of the pavilion buildings," Ms Rigby said.

"A User Needs Analysis is underway to examine requirements like community space that welcomes all visitors in an accessible and inclusive way and is sensitive to the site's heritage, as well as being resilient to coastal inundation and predicted sea level rise.

"We have developed different layout options and are looking for feedback from the community given the broad range of people's individual opinions and needs."

The feedback will inform the concept design of the renewed pavilion buildings, which will commence in the coming months.

City of Newcastle worked closely with the Newcastle Ocean Baths Community Reference Group during the planning and design phases of the stage one upgrade, and this group met again last week to discuss the progression of stage two and the options that have been developed.

Themes raised during the Community Reference Group meeting included accessibility, options for a café and kiosk to operate alongside community spaces, and change facilities.

The upgrade of the pavilion buildings presents an opportunity to deliver an expanded community space by adding a second storey to the northern pavilion, an option that the Community Reference Group discussed at last week's meeting.

City of Newcastle Executive Manager Project Management Robert Dudgeon said that construction of the pool itself is nearing completion, and precast concrete panels have been installed in the wet well area to support the new pumps, which have arrived and will be installed over the winter period.

"We are continuing work to restore the historic bleachers, and foundations are in place for the return of the historic art-deco curved stairs leading from the pool up to the pavilion area," Mr Dudgeon said.

"As we near completion of the pool, we are constructing the new pool deck, which will provide a safer surface for walking around the pool edge.

"Once construction is completed there will be a period of commissioning and testing the new pumps and systems, with a re-opening of the pools and return to swimming anticipated by summer this year."

The $9.5 million recovered from the sale of City of Newcastle's Fred Ash building is helping fund the Newcastle Ocean Baths stage one upgrade along with $3 million in funding from the NSW Government’s Public Spaces Legacy Program. The NSW Public Spaces Legacy Program is an investment in high quality public open space and delivers vital infrastructure for communities to love the place they live.

From today, community members are encouraged to visit newcastle.nsw.gov.au/yoursay to learn more about the project, view the preliminary options, and provide feedback by 12 June.