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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Ocean Baths preliminary design focuses on access and safety

City of Newcastle will meet a community reference group for the Newcastle Ocean Baths upgrade this week to discuss a preliminary design, which focuses on improving the two ageing pools and lower promenades. 

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,” he explained.

Director infrastructure and property Ken Liddell said part of the pool upgrade included a new pump station, which would 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,” he added.

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 Pty Ltd was named principal design consultant for the first stage of the upgrade, with the preliminary design to be presented this week to the project’s CRG.  

Three formal CRG meetings and two focus group sessions have been held since March 2020, with the fourth CRG get-together to take place on Wednesday 24 March. 

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 start 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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