THE historic Health Hydro could be torn apart to accommodate residential flats if plans by leisure provider GLL get off the ground.
The Adver understands that the proposals, which have been floated by the firm following a recent feasibility study, could see the ‘dry side’ of the Milton Road site gutted to make way for up to 30 new homes leaving just the pool behind.
The plans, shown to the Swindon Heritage Board and other stakeholders in recent weeks, could see the small teaching pool, the Turkish baths, significant community office space and the gym permanently consigned to the history books.
One stakeholder, who has been briefed on the proposals but did not wish to be named, said GLL’s vision amounted to the “mass internal demolition of the Health Hydro.”
It is understood that the proposals were met with significant concern by heritage bodies when they were first floated, the GLL manager sent to outline the plans was described as being quite taken aback by the response he got.
The firm took over as the provider of leisure services from Swindon Borough Council on a 25 year lease in 2014 – critics of the deal struck between the two parties point to the council’s limited power to hold their new partner to account on issues around upkeep of the buildings and full service provision.
GLL has come under fire most recently around their decision to close the small teaching pool at Milton Road – originally closed for maintenance towards the end of last year, it has never reopened.
A petition calling for the pool to be reopened has attracted 2,125 signatures and expressions of support from a number of councillors.
Jamie Coleshill, GLL’s Regional Director for Swindon, confirmed that a residential option for the Health Hydro was being considered.
“I met with the Heritage Board to present some concepts for discussion, outlining ways in which the future of the Health Hydro could be secured for the long-term,” he said.
“At this stage these really are just concepts and the purpose of the meeting was to generate discussion and invite feedback from Heritage Board members.
“One idea presented was to incorporate an element of housing into the future redevelopment of the Hydro, using the successful redevelopment of Poplar Baths in London as a reference point.
“The Health Hydro needs significant investment both to maintain the fabric of the building, but also to bring the facilities up to 21st century standards in order to attract more of the local community to use and enjoy the facility.
“Housing is an area that could be investigated. It might pay for some of the investment required to secure the building for the next 50 years and enable the leisure facilities to be upgraded which will both respect the heritage of the building, but also make it financially viable.”