New toilets and changing rooms in Hampstead ponds £700,000 revamp
Hannah Neary LDRS
- Credit: PA WIRE
Hampstead Heath outdoor swimming ponds will change forever as new plans have been approved for a £700,000 revamp.
Highgate Men’s, Hampstead Mixed and Kenwood Ladies' ponds are to benefit from new changing rooms, toilets and upgraded lifeguard huts.
The City of London Corporation (COLC), which manages Hampstead Heath, says it wants to make swimming at the ponds more accessible for disabled visitors and create more room to meet the rising number of swimmers at the heath.
It has faced extensive criticism about compulsory charges for swimmers, introduced in 2020, and this week defeated a legal challenge from a disabled swimmer over the fees.
A specialist hoist will be installed at the men’s pond to help wheelchair users access the water, as well as a ramp at the mixed pond.
The shower, changing room, and toilet block will be extended at the mixed pond.
The disabled toilet at the ladies' pond will be reconfigured and expanded.
Minor works will be carried out on the showers at Parliament Hill Lido.
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The project is expected to cost between £691,000 and £755,000 and to be funded by the City’s cash resources.
A report by the corporation’s project manager, Edwin Birch, says: “The facilities are no longer fit for purpose particularly during the summer months, taking account of the increase in visitor numbers, and the impact on lifeguards managing the bathing load and the facilities.”
Another report by the authority said the works are needed to improve safety and security.
It adds: “The key project aim across all the locations is that the facilities are fit for purpose, taking account of the increase in visitor numbers, along with ensuring the configuration and layout is adapted to enable bathing load to be managed more effectively while ensuring the swimming facilities are welcoming to a diverse range of visitors.”
The works are expected to begin outside the peak season and end in May 2023, with a "phasing plan being considered to allow normal swimming to continue where possible”.
The CoLC, which approved the project at a meeting on July 21, has submitted a planning application to Camden Council requesting permission for the works.
A tendering process will be held for building works in July.