It will be a while before locals can go for a dip at the Newcastle Ocean baths again, with upgrades to the iconic site getting underway today.
The $14.5-million first stage of re-development will see the boardwalk renewed, better ramp access and improved handrail support into the pool, and a new pump system installed that can replace the water within six hours.
It also includes one of the more controversial parts of the plan, with Council intending to resurface the bottom of the baths to allow walk-based activities to continue.
Local community group, Friends of Newcastle Ocean Baths has been strongly opposed to the move, lodging an eleventh hour application for an interim heritage order as a last resort to halt the concreting.
But it is unclear whether or not the group’s bid to change the site’s heritage status will be successful, leaving Council to push on with revitalizing other areas until the matter is resolved.
The baths will be closed off to the public for at least the next year with another stage of upgrades yet to come, focusing on the pavilion and surrounding public areas.
Community consultation for the second phase is due to start later this year.