Deal struck for sale of St Neots pool site

A �1.75MILLION deal has finally been agreed for the old lido site in St Neots.

A �1.75MILLION deal has finally been agreed for the old lido site in St Neots.

As expected, the Huntingdon Road land will be sold to McCarthy and Stone, which is planning to build retirement apartments on the site.

The deal was agreed by St Neots Swimming Pool Trust last Tuesday (March 29) at a meeting attended by six trustees, including Mayor Councillor Gordon Thorpe and trust chairman Cllr Paul Ursell.

They met legal advisers and Alan Matthews from commercial chartered surveyors Barker Storey Matthews to go through terms for the sale.

Cllr Ursell this week confirmed the sale had been agreed and that work was progressing well, using professional pool designers, to provide a replacement outdoor pool for the town.

“We have identified two potential sites for the new outdoor pool, one at Riversmead and the other at Brickhills [near Cromwell Road], and we want to create an environment where people can go and enjoy the atmosphere,” Cllr Ursell said.

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“We’d like to see a fully functional lido with other attractions that can sustain it in the winter months.”

Cllr Ursell said there were many other things to consider for the project, such as looking at how the new pool complex could use sustainable energy and the possible inclusion of a wave machine or an indoor flowboard – a machine that allows riders to surf on the water.

Cllr Thorpe said that, as matters were now officially in the hands of solicitors, he could not give an exact figure for the deal, but added that it was “more than �1.5m and less than �2m”.

However, the deal will be a blow to the Friends of Priory Park, a group that had been campaigning against the sale of the old swimming pool site.

Friends’ representative Paul Davis said St Neots town councillors had lost all sense of perspective over the sale.

“I fervently believe that the correct and most logical place for a new swimming pool is on the site of the old one,” he wrote in a letter to St Neots town council earlier this year.

“I believe the prospect of earning approximately �1.75m for the current site has blinded some of our councillors to common sense and logic.

Town councillor and Friend of Priory Park, Cllr Barry Chapman, said he was disappointed by the agreement, and remained sceptical a new pool would ever be built.

“The pool was a cherished asset of the town, and it would be feasible to build a new pool on the site of the old one,” he told The Hunts Post.

“People on the crescent and around the park really regarded that pool as their main facility and they were fed up when it was filled in.

“Now it’s going to be sold off with little prospect of a new one being built.”

But town councillors were adamant that the money raised from the sale of the land would be used to provide a new lido.

Cllr Julia Hayward said there was “no intention” among the council to use proceeds of the sale for anything other than a new pool, and to do so would contravene the terms of the trust.

St Neots lido originally opened in 1961 and during its successful run it was once attracting crowds of up to 800 people a day. But attendances declined, costs soared and health and safety regulations changed, which forced it to close in 2003. It was filled in in 2005.