Newcastle Ocean Baths upgrade to begin 14 March
The long-awaited revitalisation of the Newcastle Ocean Baths will kick off on March 14 with stage one works to improve the safety, water quality and accessibility of the much-loved community facility.
The $14.5m first phase will focus on the pools, lower promenade and pumping system, addressing key issues identified through detailed community engagement and engineering advice.
The Ocean Baths will be closed for the duration of the work, which is expected to be completed by mid-2023.
Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said City of Newcastle (CN) had worked with the construction contractor on a program to limit the overall disruption to users and impact just one summer season.
"City of Newcastle has worked closely with the Newcastle Ocean Baths Community Reference Group and other stakeholders during the planning and design stages of this project, with improved public health and safety, accessibility, and community preferences among the key considerations," Cr Nelmes said.
"Staff have worked closely with the contractor on a plan to limit disruption to users, including keeping the Baths open through this current summer season and aiming to open prior to summer 2023.
"With the Newcastle Ocean Baths turning 100 this November, we are committed to ensuring this upgrade meets the needs of current and future users and look forward to this project delivering significantly improved facilities, which can be enjoyed for the community for years to come."
As part of the upgrade, the iconic bleacher seating will be retained, the boardwalk will be renewed, and a new pump system will be installed that can replace the water of the baths within six hours, significantly improving water quality.
The sand floor amenity will be retained while capping the undulating rock bottom of the pool with concrete to ensure the pool can continue to be used for walk based activities, as well as to improve safety and water quality. Sand will continue to build up on the floor by the same processes as today with sand washing into the pool via ocean waves. CN will also consider manually replacing fresh sand in the pool following its annual clean depending on forecast swell and weather conditions.
The stage one work will deliver significant improvements for people with a disability or low mobility, including ramp access and improved handrail support into the pool.
The $9.5 million recovered from the sale of CN'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 next stage of the Newcastle Ocean Baths upgrade will focus on the pavilion and surrounding public areas. This phase is subject to community consultation which is expected to start this year.