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Council moving forward with Newcastle Ocean Baths upgrade


City of Newcastle (CN) is expected to appoint the principal design consultant for the final stage of the Newcastle Ocean Baths upgrade next week.

With councillors set to vote on the position at its monthly meeting on Tuesday 26 September, the successful applicant will prepare detailed proposals for the enhancement of the pavilion buildings, including the heritage façade, following community input into preliminary options earlier this year.

Executive manager project management office Robert Dudgeon said CN would continue to engage with residents as planning progresses for the future of the much-loved facility.

“The appointment of the principal design consultant is an important next step for the project,” he explained.

“The intention is to deliver a facility that welcomes all visitors in an accessible and inclusive way, is sensitive to the site’s heritage, and resilient to coastal inundation and predicted sea level rise.

“Exploring options for community space at the site is part of CN’s vision of providing an equitably distributed, sustainably managed and inclusive network of public places and spaces, as outlined in our draft Social Infrastructure Strategy.

“We will continue to engage with the Newcastle Ocean Baths Community Reference Group throughout this process, as the designs are developed.”

Progress is continuing on construction of the renewed pool and promenade areas, too, with swimmers set to be back in the water this summer.

Work to restore the iconic bleacher seating is nearly complete, the new shade structure is taking shape, and finishing touches to the pool including painting the pool walls are underway.

Mr Dudgeon said construction of the wet well area to support the new pumps had been a key focus in recent months.

“The pool deck is nearly complete, and key features such as the Art Deco curved stairs leading from the pool up to the pavilion area, and the restoration of the bleacher seating are also progressing,” he added.

“Retaining these heritage features has been a priority, with installation of the wider timber boardwalk and painting the bleachers to return the iconic teal colour to occur in coming weeks.

“We know that the baths are unique and treasured by locals and visitors.

“A number of methodologies and materials have been tested for restoration of the bleachers, ensuring they remain structurally sound and able to be enjoyed for many more decades to come.”

The $9.5 million recovered from the sale of City of Newcastle’s Fred Ash building is helping fund the Newcastle Ocean Baths stage one upgrade along with $3 million in funding from the NSW Government’s Public Spaces Legacy Program.

The government initiative is an investment in high-quality public open space and delivers vital infrastructure for communities to love the place they live.

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