City of Newcastle is progressing the well-needed upgrade to Newcastle Ocean Baths, with tenders being called to restore the unique sand-bottomed pool and its promenades.
The Baths upgrade is a staged project, with the first piece of work being to restore the pools and lower concourse, while consultation and assessments continue for the upper concourse and pavilion.
Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen said the pools upgrade had been guided by engagement with the Newcastle Ocean Baths Community Reference Group and broader public, with construction expected mid-2021.
“November marks Newcastle Ocean Baths’ 98th anniversary, and the signs of ageing are really showing around her pools and promenades,” the Deputy Lord Mayor said.
“Deterioration around the pools has become impossible to miss, with sections of the lower promenade literally falling into the ocean in recent storms.
“We’ve had some great feedback from the community about what’s important to them as we undertake these essential upgrades to Newcastle Ocean Baths’ pools, like retaining the iconic boardwalk, maintaining the historic sand bottom, and improving accessibility.
“We’ll be making some practical improvements like relocating the pool pumps so our staff can safely access them for maintenance, while ensuring that historic elements like the pump house remain in place.”
Acting CEO Ken Liddell said the immediate focus for the City was to deliver a safe and efficient upgrade to Newcastle Ocean Baths’ pools, while continuing assessments to inform the second stage of the project.
“The City commenced community consultation on the upgrade to the Baths in November 2019 and formed a community reference group (CRG) to help guide the project in March 2020,” Mr Liddell said.
“We have since had three formal CRG meetings since March, with an additional two focus groups delving into key issues including change rooms and the café/kiosk and community spaces.
“We’ve received feedback from members of the CRG that meeting digitally under COVID-19 restrictions has been challenging and has constrained open discussion and collaboration.
“The CRG has also recommended a multi-criteria needs analysis be undertaken on the site to guide conversations with the community and to ensure the upgrade delivered meets the needs of future generations.
“Based on this feedback and the importance of an informed, successful co-design process with the CRG for the Stage 2 pavilions restoration, we will continue investigations such as the needs analysis and more detailed condition assessments prior to resuming face-to-face engagement on Stage 2 when it’s safe to do so.
“In the meantime, we’re focussed on working with the CRG to share information and limit the disruption caused by the important Stage 1 upgrade to the pools.”
City of Newcastle has committed to funding the renewal of Newcastle Ocean Baths in full, and will direct the $9.5 million recovered from the Fred Ash building sale to the project.
The tender will be available on City of Newcastle’s website from tomorrow www.tenderlink.com/newcastle.