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Gloucestershire Business News

Solar panels will help keep historic pumps running at Sandford Lido

Solar panels will be installed to help save Cheltenham's historic jewel the Sandford Lido from closure.

The swimming facility came up with the proposals to combat a three-fold energy bill increase in September.

It will mean the original pumps, which are now almost 90 years old, can keep on running at the outdoor swimming pool.

The Keynsham Road pool offers a heated season for 28 weeks, attracting more than 200,000 visitors a year and in 2021 secured a new 35 year lease.

Its fixed-rate energy tariff is due to end in the autumn and it expects costs to more than triple from £51,000 to £178,500.

To help ease this burden, it applied to install solar panels on the roof of the plant room, a detached building within the open car park and adjacent to the main entrance and ticket office.

The plans ((23/00479/FUL)) received 35 letters of support from local residents and were commended for supporting the council'scommitment to becoming carbon neutral council by 2030.

Cheltenham Borough Council gave the nod to the application on Thursday. (May 18).

It owns the historic site but it is operated by charity Sandford Parks Lido under a long-term lease.

Councillors agreed that any negative effect on the building, which is a Grade II listed, was outweighed by the positive impact on the environment.

The Lido was opened in 1935 and in 1996 the charity was set up to protect it from imminent closure. It is led by CEO Julie Sargent and 12 voluntary trustees.

She said in support of the application: "As with many industries the leisure sector is facing a financial crisis and many swimming pools will close as a consequence.

"If we don't apply the findings of our recent sustainability survey the lido becomes financially unsustainable in its current form."

The charity spends a lot of money and effort on preserving not only the Lido building but also the historic pool equipment.

Julie said: "When the lido first opened it was considered ultra modern as it had filtration, chemical dosing and the pool water was heated, all very rare for swimming pools in the 1930's, an achievement Cheltenham Borough Council were rightly very proud of.

"Our protection of this historic engineering comes at a significant cost to our charity not only in regards to energy, but also annual maintenance fees.

"We have been told many times over the years that we could reduce costs by replacing the pumps with modern equivalents, but in order to preserve the historical engineering we have refrained from its replacement, which has made our lido the most historically complete lido in the UK."

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