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The City of Newcastle is undertaking community consultation on the preliminary design for the Newcastle Ocean Baths upgrade to improve the two aging pools and lower promenades, which will include a new pump station.

Stage 1 has now reached preliminary design stage, with an initial design developed in consultation with the broad community, the Newcastle Ocean Baths Community Reference Group (CRG), and with expert advice on heritage, safety and accessibility.

Deputy Lord Mayor, Declan Clausen, said the preliminary design will be presented to the CRG and shows the iconic bleacher seating remaining with a renewal of the boardwalk.

“We’re also planning accessibility improvements to ensure the ocean baths can be enjoyed by everyone in the community,” Mr Clausen said.

Director Infrastructure and Property, Ken Liddell, said that part of the pool upgrade includes a new pump station which will enable more effective pool cleaning.

“By dramatically increasing water circulation and subsequently minimising the opportunity for algae to grow, the new pump system will allow for increased consistency in water quality and reduce the need to clean the baths only during low tide,” Mr Liddell said.

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

In December 2020, GHD was named principal design consultant for the first stage of the upgrade, with the preliminary design to be presented soon to the project’s CRG.

Four formal CRG meetings and two focus group sessions have been held since March 2020.

Stage 1 preliminary design includes addressing the undulating rock bottom while retaining a sand floor, allowing for more thorough cleaning and improved water quality while increasing safety for pool users when sand levels are low.

Following the CRG meeting, a concept for the upgrade to the pool and promenades will be developed and presented to Councillors prior to proceeding to detailed design, with construction expected to commence mid-year.

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 Council Administration Centre to its new staff premises at 12 Stewart Avenue, Newcastle West, in October 2019.

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