Shaping the future of Tooting Bec Lido

Nestling among the trees at the Streatham end of Tooting Common, Tooting Bec Lido is one of the largest open-air pools in Europe – 100 yards long and 30 yards wide, filled with a million gallons of cold water. A beach within the city, it has been part of the Common and a haven for local people for over a century.

Thinking about the past century prompted the SLSC to consider the next 100 years and what the Lido will mean to future generations. Part of that process was the Open Forum in May 2011, followed by a survey and the “Paint the future” art event in April 2012, when SLSC members drew, painted or wrote down their visions of how Tooting Bec Lido might look in one, ten and 100 years’ time.

Many SLSC members suggested improving the Lido’s facilities. So, after discussions with Wandsworth Council and DC Leisure, the SLSC is exploring a plan to invest in the fabric of the Lido to help secure its long term sustainability.

Central to this plan is the renovation of the run-down old deepend entrance - there is a new shallow end entrance built in 2002 - and the construction of a community building on the space to provide much-needed staff facilities and an indoor space for the Lido community.

The proposed building could help ensure the future of Tooting Bec Lido, make it even more attractive, both for swimmers and the wider community, and strengthen the SLSC’s position at the heart of Lido life. As well as being used by the SLSC for club events and meetings, the building could be used to generate income as a venue for exercise classes, events and celebrations.

To explore the possibilities, the SLSC appointed David Gibson Architects new building poolside and briefed them with five key objectives:
• Improve the long-term sustainability of the Lido while promoting its seaside charm.
• Provide an indoor space for Lido users and enhance opportunities for events.
• Provide facilities for Lido staff.
• Increase out-of-season and off-peak usage by developing year-round attractions.
• Increase capacity to maximise revenue in summer.

What’s happening now?

The design proposed by David Gibson Architects takes as its focal point the drama of the Lido. new building aerial view It features a new courtyard and winter entrance leading directly to the deep end of the pool and framed by an open colonnade. Opening on the courtyard is the new Lido Pavilion, a modest hall with glass doors and an eco-friendly planted roof. The hall measures roughly 11m x 9m and is 105 sq m – enough for a yoga class but not for an orchestra and audience!

There is a clever arrangement that allows the 28 sq m lobby to be used to extend the hall or provide a separate space. A kitchen, WC and offices are built into the bank that surrounds the Lido. New building entrance

The new development increases the building’s footprint, yet takes up less than is currently fenced in.

As part of an ongoing commitment to ensure that SLSC members and the wider Lido community are involved in the development of the scheme the design was presented at open meetings in July and September 2012.

Planning permission was granted by Wandsworth Council on 2 October 2013. Extracts from the submission are shown on the boards under the shelter on the railway side of Tooting Bec Lido.

To view the full application visit Wansworth Council’s planning website

What happens next?

As Tooting Bec Lido is on common land the plans also have to be approved by the Planning Inspectorate (Secretary of State). An application is now being made.

If approval is granted, construction options will be reviewed and work could start in the Spring of 2015, with completion scheduled for the Spring 2016. The Lido would remain open throughout.

What about the cost?

Over many years, as its membership has grown and as a result of favourable terms which allow the SLSC to keep a portion of the Lido entrance fees, the Club has accumulated financial reserves.
The SLSC has a history of contributing to improvements at the Lido, and continuing to do so would be in keeping with the Objects of the Club.

The current reserves put the Club in a position to fund more than half of the cost of the proposed building. The balance will be raised through a contribution from Wandsworth Council, grants and fundraising.

What about benefits and financial viability?

The SLSC would gain value for its investment in the new building in several ways:
• securing a permanent home for the SLSC at Tooting Bec Lido
• improving the fabric of the Lido
• improving the economic viability of the Lido for Wandsworth Council and its leisure provider, and therefore…
• … improving the sustainability of the Lido.

Investing in a new building strengthens the Club’s relationship with Wandsworth Council, and will help secure good terms for SLSC’s next contract, due in 2014, for use of the Lido with the Council’s leisure contractor.