Friends of Eastville Park: Our position on the lido proposal

August 02 2021
Friends of Eastville Park: Our position on the lido proposal

News from the Friends of Eastville Park

AFTER a great deal of consideration and collaboration on surveys on the upper park, the Friends of Eastville Park have decided not to support the construction of a lido here.

While we fully support the creation of leisure swimming facilities in North East Bristol, we cannot support the loss of valuable, multi-use green space that helps manage air quality, well-being and community activities where there are deprived communities. 

The Friends of Eastville Park are a recognized constituted committee comprised of 12 local residents to support Eastville Park. Over the last four years the group have run several community events, created a pop-up café to help provide evidence of cost effectiveness of a café at Eastville, rescued the ailing lawn bowling club, successfully applied for funds for the play area and improved relationships with the council Parks management department.

We agreed to collaborate on a Masterplan project and feasibility study to see what facilities would serve most people and if a lido could be suitable.

The initial feasibility study on the old swimming pool site found that it was prohibitively expensive to build and run a renovated lido given the damage to the old pool and existing protected wildlife. The focus was then shifted to a feasibility study on the Old Bowling Green.

The Old Bowling Green site has been underused and so a series of surveys were conducted to ascertain the best use way to improve all facilities in the upper park.

The results showed that people most highly valued a café, toilets and nature programmes in the park. Several sport options were also favoured, including swimming, Tai Chi, Yoga, and similar group sport activities.

Constructing a lido would involve a great deal of heavy digging machinery, likely requiring loss of hedges, mature trees and green space to gain access. The car park would also likely require expansion to cope with the additional cars from people visiting the site from areas outside of Eastville during peak season.

While we recognise that swimming venues are sorely needed in East Bristol, we believe an open-air cold-water site:

  • Would not support swimming lessons for children due to the water temperature

  • Would not be safe for pregnant swimmers due to the cold-water temperature most of the year.

  • Would have a water temperature of less than 15C for eight months of the year and therefore not available to a wide demographic of swimmers.

  • Would attract large crowds to Eastville Park to swim during the summer months, causing pressure on the nearby roads accessing the small car park. Queues of swimmers could be long during hot weather. 

  • Would dominate the upper park entrance by the size – projected to be close to 40m in length plus support buildings.

  • Would not be able to support such a wide demographic of Eastville as a multi-purpose flat green space available to hire or run a variety of events.

  • Would be costly to heat and would likely create a hefty carbon footprint.

  • Would create a noise and smell nuisance for the residents of Park Avenue who already are at breaking point due to the popularity of the park

Furthermore, most cold-water swimmers need to warm themselves up for some time after swimming and therefore are unlikely to access the site using sustainable active travel methods during the winter.

It is our considered view that a lido development would have such a detrimental impact on both the park and local residents that we cannot support it being built there. Even if the site initially plans to be run as a community-based venue, there are no guarantees that the site would always be so.

Bristol is also currently committed to halting the climate and biodiversity crisis by adding to green spaces and increasing a range of habitats for wildlife. We feel that the lido project goes against this plan and would be more suited to a brownfield site where green space would be added rather than destroyed.

It is our collective opinion that the lido project should seek to renovate existing brownfield sites in East Bristol to provide both an indoor and outdoor swimming option with added green space, car park and leisure facilities.

Friends of Eastville Park