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Following extensive community feedback, the City of Newcastle has completed the concept design for Stage 1 of the Newcastle Ocean Baths upgrade, centred on improving the aging pools and lower promenades including the installation of a new pump station to enable more effective pool cleaning.

City of Newcastle Lord Mayor, Nuatali Nelmes, said the Newcastle Ocean Baths Community Reference Group (CRG) was integral in the refinement of the concept design for Stage 1.

“We’ve heard valuable feedback from the Community Reference Group, which represents our broader community and Newcastle Ocean Baths users, and adjusted the design to ensure the Baths meet the needs of our community and visitors,” Lord Mayor Nelmes said.

“The big winner has been accessibility improvements, with fit-for-purpose ramps for people with a disability or mobility issue to easily get to and from the pools.

“We’ve carefully considered the location of the ramp access into the pools and following advice from the CRG and in consultation with disability advocates have realigned the new ramp to the western edge of the pool to allow long lap swimming.

“We’ve heard our community values the existing rounded central stairs and they’ll be incorporated in the new design within upgraded seating and improvements to ensure they meet modern standards.”

Co-chair, Hunter Regional Committee of the National Trust, Mark Metrikas, said the City of Newcastle had genuinely consulted on elements of the concept such as the rounded stairs.

“National Trust was concerned to see the rounded heritage stairs missing from an earlier design of the Newcastle Ocean Baths Stage 1 upgrade,” Mr Metrikas said.

“City of Newcastle has worked closely with National Trust on seeking advice as to how the stairs can be incorporated into the new design, as well as sharing additional information about the engineering and safety considerations, so as to get a better outcome for this cherished facility.”

Other changes made in response to community feedback include replacing the shade structure with a rainproof shade textile with the potential to be removed during the winter season, the colour scheme of extended bleachers and reducing the visual impact of the new lifeguard tower.

As part of the upgrade, the iconic bleacher seating will be retained, the boardwalk will be renewed and a new pump station which will enable more effective pool cleaning will be installed. 

The concept design also addresses the undulating rock bottom, while retaining the sand floor to facilitate cleaning of the pools and increase user safety when sand levels are low, with sand continuing to accumulate in the pools via natural ocean processes as it does currently.

The Newcastle Ocean Baths upgrade is a staged project that will begin with the restoration of the pools and promenades in the second half of 2021 as part of Stage 1. Stage 2 will focus on the upper concourse and pavilion building.

Construction on Stage 1 of the Newcastle Ocean Baths upgrade is expected to commence in mid-2021.

City of Newcastle is committed to funding the renewal of Newcastle Ocean Baths in full and will direct the $9.5 million recovered from the sale of the Frederick Ash Building to the project. 

The sale was made possible through the relocation of the City’s Administration Centre to its new staff premises at 12 Stewart Avenue, Newcastle West, in October 2019.

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