West St Leonards lido plans revealed

West Marina Lido project - a graphic impression
West Marina Lido project - a graphic impression

AMBITIOUS plans for a new leisure and entertainment development on the site of the old bathing pool are set to breathe new life into West St Leonards.

The Lido, a proposal from a group of local business people, would be a social hub, including a restaurant and bar, as well as offering a variety of watersports and cycling facilities.

The intention is for the £1million project on the West Marina seafront to act as a focal point for the area, supporting local regeneration.

Providing the necessary funding and planning consent is given, it is anticipated that the project, on the currently vacant piece of land, could be complete by summer 2012.

Bob Tipler, marketing manager for the project, said: “We want first and foremost to create a real asset for the local area, for people to come and enjoy this fantastic and largely undiscovered part of the town’s seafront.”

The Lido team is keen to take on board the views of the local community, and the first opportunity to hear more about the project will be the West Marina Gardens Residents’ Association meeting on Saturday, November 5, at The Marina Fountain pub, in Caves Road, St Leonards, at 11am. Chairman of the residents’ association Stevie Beale said: “Anything that gets the council thinking about our end of town rather than the Old Town is a good thing.

Everyone I have spoken to is quite supportive.We have the half marathon, but apart from that, everything is geared towards the Old Town.”

The proposal would also tie in with the Hastings to Bexhill seafront cycle route set to open early next year, acting as a point from which people could explore the area.

The intention is to use as many local professionals and companies as possible during the construction process.

Once the business is up and running there would be a core staff of at least 10 people with an estimated 50 or 60 part time positions created.

The team is confident that by the time planning is approved, the funds will be in place to complete the build.

Amber Rudd, MP for Hastings and Rye, said: “I am delighted, and I welcome all investment in Hastings. I hope it goes ahead.

“I would hope that the people in charge of the proposal will work sensitively to make sure that the final proposal has the support of the community.”

Before the final planning application is submitted in early December, there will be a planning forum, the first of its kind in the town.

This is scheduled for November 15, at a venue to be confirmed, and will be an open meeting hosted by a councillor and planning officer, where the developers will present their ideas, and members of the public will have the opportunity to voice their opposition or support.

The meeting will then become a consideration when the application is submitted.

An advisory group is also to be set up by the developers, involving key groups within the community, to discuss construction, forward planning, and any issues that may arise.

The use of shipping containers for much of the construction, means that the structure is temporary, and will not require extensive groundworks.

Mr Tipler added: “The views across the bay to Beachy Head are stunning. The open plan, light and airy aspect of the structure is all about connecting visitors to the sea whether they are dining, enjoying a coffee, windsurfing, fishing, cycling or just shooting the breeze.”

The site in question, currently a grass-covered space, is owned by Hastings Borough Council, and the Lido team hope to secure a five-year lease.

At the website www.westmarinalido.co.uk, people can keep up to date with how the project is progressing, and give feedback and ideas.

Opened to the public in 1933, and built by borough engineer Sidney Little, the Olympic-sized Bathing Pool, on the West Marina, St Leonards, was one of the largest outdoor pools in Europe at the time, with seating for 2,500 spectators.

It was a social hub, attracting thousands of visitors over a typical weekend.

It was not a commercial success however, and was eventually turned into a holiday camp in 1960, before being completely closed in 1986.