Expansion plans that will turn Arundel Lido into a community hub for the town have been approved.
South Downs National Park Authority’s planning committee, meeting in Midhurst today, granted permission for a new building comprising gym, multi-function hall, heated changing rooms and indoor café, subject to a number of conditions.
Arundel and Downland Community Leisure Trust was praised for its efforts to consult with members of the public through the process.
Project LEAP was launched in 2015 with a view to developing the facilities at the lido and improve the leisure facilities in the town.
David Wood, trust chairman, said: “We have always felt this site should be used all year round and should provide more recreational facilities for the local community rather than just the swim sessions we have for four months of the year at the moment.”
The project had received wide support, including the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk agreeing to be patrons, but some concerns had been raised by nearby residents.
Committee members were concerned about the lack of landscaping around the car park and the boundary fence.
Ian Phillips said: “If this was a commercial development, I think we would be looking quite hard for a very strong landscape input, both on its river frontage and on the car park.
“I don’t want to be overly negative but I am very concerned that this side of the scheme seems to have been ineffectively addressed.”
He suggested windows be inserted in the fence to improve transparency.
Barbara Holyome raised concerns about the 6.30am opening time for the gym.
“This is going to be, I am quite sure, a facility that is very well used and I just feel for those people who are living on that boundary,” she said.
Permission was granted with conditions including a site management plan and further acoustic assessment to mitigate the impact on nearby residents.
It was also suggested the inclusion of electric car charging points be considered but project manager Roger Edworthy said afterwards that this was already part of the plan.
Neville Harrison, committee chairman, said: “I accept that for the people living close by this will not be the most popular thing but on balance there is no question about the benefits for the local population, the improvement of the site, which will be far more attractive, and the health benefits.”