Redbridge lido plans set for approval

The proposed lido in Ilford has been recommended for approval by Redbridge Council planning committee.

Proposals for the major new leisure destination, comprising a heated six-lane pool and fitness hub, will go before the committee next Wednesday (June 5).

Alongside the 25m outdoor pool, the new lido would also include a new cafe, a children’s splash pad and a dance studio, not far from the site of the original pool open between 1923 and 1995.

The development of the historic Valentine’s Park has been a priority of the current administration, currently led by Jas Athwal.

Redbridge ‘vowed’ to have the project finished by August this year, but progress has been gradual.

Specific funding has not yet been approved, aside from the £1.07million allocated in the capital programme – spanning 2023 through 2026 – in this year’s budget. No specific price-tag has been attached.

Once approved, work on the lido would  need to begin within three years. But before  that can happen, the council will need to undertake several preliminary tasks.

It will need to upgrade the pedestrian crossing in Perth Road and produce more than a dozen logistics plans, covering drainage, biodiversity, and working hours and noise reduction measures. The council has not yet offered a timeline for the works.

Plans were formally put forward in April, after a 22-day public consultation of residents living in the borough.

They lodged a total of eleven comments, eight of which were in opposition to the plans.

The upset residents argued that building on green space used for ‘walking and observing nature’ was unacceptable, and that English weather was unsuitable for an outdoor swimming pool.

Other criticisms focused on increases in traffic potentially causing congestion, the loss of mature trees and Valentine’s Park’s “tranquil atmosphere,” and a potential rise in crime.

The council responded in a report, published this week, promoting the fact the lido would bring outdoor swimming back to the park after 30 years.

A “diverse range” of facilities can also enhance residents’ quality of life, it says, and it should be seen as an enhancement of the park’s open spaces. Issues with traffic congestion would be balanced out by the 21 new car parking and 40 cycling spaces.

Residents also expressed concern that Redbridge was taking on a costly project when it was already struggling with debt, but the council says that is “not a material consideration” in the planning process.

The site, to the east of the park, is currently occupied by basketball courts, tennis courts and a compound used to store hundreds of wheelie bins.

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Sebastian Mann

Local democracy reporter