Lido is the name given to a public outdoor swimming pool which usually includes surrounding facilities including changing rooms, sun loungers, seating, a gymnasium and even water sports equipment and facilities. Lido is an Italian word for beach, and began to be used for these pools when they began to spring up in the 1930s. Saltdean Lido was established in this golden age when many people in the UK embraced swimming for exercise or recreation. It was built in 1937 and 1938, and with its terrace, sun deck, café and curved wings it became the only lido to be featured in London’s Design Museum.
Butlins attempted to buy the derelict lido for redevelopment in 1958, but the bid was unsuccessful thanks to resident opposition, which led it to be rejected by the Ministry of Housing. It wasn’t until forty years later that the lido was reopened by Tony Banks the Sports Minister. The restoration project was the result of a public and private sector partnership, costing around two million pounds.
When plans were announced to fill in the swimming pool at Saltdean Lido and build over a hundred flats in March 2010, the Save Saltdean Lido Campaign sprang into action. The Friends of Saltdean Lido saw their role as safeguarding the Lido including the pool, leisure facilities and community centre from residential development.
The Lido is owned by Brighton and Hove Council, and leased by Dennis Audley who took over the lease ten years ago. It’s a grade II listed building, and is open between May and September each year, with regular maintenance taking place on the pool and its gym facilities. It’s also home to Saltdean Community Association, who manage community rooms with local clubs and groups.
The group are developing an alternative plan to the one presented by the current lease owner, attempting to demonstrate that the Lido is viable and sustainable without the development of flats. In September 2010 they invited member of the public to view their plans, which can also be found in a detailed PDF on the Save Saltdean Lido website. They want to provide a selection of facilities and amenities which can be available to the community all year round, as well as attracting visitors to Saltdean.
As the campaign reaches the two year mark, they are still determined to save the Lido and are lobbying Brighton and Hove Council to revoke the current lease so the Lido can be leased by a Community Interest Company, which would mean that the community would have control of the future of the Lido, while it will be protected from property developers, and could also benefit from lottery and trust funding. They’re looking for directors who want to get involved, and in particular anybody who has experience of working in CICs or social enterprises.
The campaign group appealed for caution in the Argus recently, asking the Council to carefully consider all options for running the site if they revoke the current lease. As one of Britain’s oldest and most attractive Lidos it would be a shame to see the site go into private hands.
Photo used under a creative commons license courtesy of johnrobertshepard on Flickr