Pool restoration hopes dashed as plans are unveiled for flats

December 22 2018
Pool restoration hopes dashed as plans are unveiled for flats

DERELICT Speedwell Swimming Baths will now be turned into 31 affordable homes despite hopes it could be brought back to life for community use.

Residential developer Crossman Homes has signed a deal with housing association Yarlington, which received grant funding from the city council to develop the Whitefield Road site.

Under the scheme, the art-deco building will be demolished and replaced by five-storey apartments.

Speedwell Baths was built in 1937 but closed down in 2005 when it was deemed surplus to requirements by Bristol City Council. The building was then sold the following year.

Very little of the original interior now exists with only the metal roof structure remaining.

Residents had wanted the building brought back to community use but hopes were finally dashed after representatives of Historic Pools of Britain agreed with the developer that the conservation and repair of the existing baths would be "wholly unrealistic".

Brad Hughes, of Crossman Homes said: "We are delighted to be leading this exciting development which will provide much-needed social housing for the area. The site has been vacant since 2005 and has become a dangerous eyesore, attracting anti-social behaviour which has been a real concern to the local community."

The council had promised residents of east Bristol a new pool after the closure of Speedwell but despite a 700-named petition presented to the authority in January 2017 nothing has materialised.

In 2012 an attempt to get the building placed on the national list of Grade II listed buildings failed. It has since been placed on Bristol's Local List however this does not offer the same protection by law.

Since 2005 two plans to redevelop the site for residential have not gone ahead for financial reasons. Crossman Homes will now build a mixture of one and two bedroom apartments on the site, with work expected to start in early 2019.

Wyn Bevan, Yarlington’s head of development, said: "We are delighted to be working with Crossman Homes and to have received grant funding from Bristol City Council to build 31 much needed affordable homes. As disused, existing developed land we are able to deliver much needed homes and help solve the city’s housing need without putting pressure on an expanding city."

Councillor Paul Smith, cabinet member for housing, said: "The Speedwell Swimming Pool site was sold in 2006, so I am pleased to see it is finally being developed. It is important that we make the best use of land across the city and not allow sites to be left empty for too long. There was initially only going to be four affordable properties on this site, so this is another great example of how our grant funding can help support the construction of more affordable housing, which will be available for those who need it most."

The development was designed by Angus Meek Architects working closely with Bristol City Council’s design and planning team to reflect the style and shape of the existing building.