What is the travel and access strategy?

We are currently engaging with travel and access specialists as we know this is a really important concern of the public and also of planning. These specialists do not come cheap. We have received some wonderful pro bono advice from a specialist (thank you!) and some indications of a method for safely bringing people on to site.

Once we have confirmation that the public do support the project then we will be loking to raise funds to engage specialists and work with existing tenants and the landowners Bradford Council to create a robust travel and access strategy.

The site is on greenbelt, why can you develop on it?

The site is indeed on green belt land. Half of the proposed site is an existing industrial building constructed in 1909 that is becoming a liability due to its unsafe nature. All of our design and landscaping focus will be on minimising any impact on the surrounding area. The main buildings attached to the pool will be sunk down into ground and provide a low profile to the casual observer.

Green Belt planning guidance does encourage leisure use for community purpose and also provides exceptional circumstances for other development. Our plans require the lodge business to provide some subsidy to the community pool to ensure it is a sustainable ongoing business of its own and will therefore offer amenity to the community for decades to come.

Expected maintenance on the pool will require funding so that it does not fall into disrepair like so many other facilities. Having the lodge business will ensure that a robust funding programme is in place to ensure the site remains a spectacular place to be long into the second half of this century.

How will the development impact the heritage across the estate?

There is a long history of the landowners of St Ives building and introducing water structures from the Rievaulx monks building Coppice Pond, which was then landscaped by the Ferrands for pleasure boating. The Ferrands also built the ponds in the Cuckoo Nest Woods and finally the actual construction of the original Kettlewell Reservoir in 1909. Yorkshire Swim Works is keen to bring back to life a water structure that once served the people of Bingley. Water landscaping has been a significant part of the estate including the ponds, reservoir, waterfalls, follies and more.

(And the monks definitely jumped in that pond on hot days 🙂)

We believe that Yorkshire Swim Works will be the next step in the natural heritage of the site and that reviving the industrial reservoir will maintain the natural evolution of the Estate.

What is a Natural Swimming Pool?

The basic idea behind a Natural Swimming Pool is where mineral filters and plants (instead of chemicals) together with water flow and natural light are used to ensure the swimming water is clean and free of harmful bacteria. The beauty of these pools is that they are living systems, functioning like a natural body of water, creating natural habitats for wildlife in the regeneration zone, whilst offering bathers a body of crystal-clear water in the swimming zone.

How do you plan to fund Yorkshire Swim Works

Early estimates of the cost of YSW are in line with expectations and will be financed through a mixture of private and social investment and we are hopeful of securing the support of the Lottery. The site is almost perfect for building on, with an established basin, steady slope to support the low impact buildings and good solid bedrock to build on.

We are not expecting Bradford Council to foot the bill on this project.

Will the water be heated?

We are exploring options for partially heating the pool but it will not be a steaming cauldron year round. Any decision on heating the pool will be made with the long term sustainability of the facility in mind and also the wishes of the community.

How long will the development take

We expect the planning process to take up to a year and early estimates on construction of the facility put it between 18 months and two years. This will all be subject to planning and investment

The estate already struggles with car parking and access this will only make things worse:

We are fully aware of the car problems on busy and even not so busy days. It is established that the existing infrastructure of St Ives is not fit for purpose. We would like to work with all of the current tenants on the land to find solutions that benefit everybody.

As the YSW will be a ticketed facility we will be able to plan ahead and provide additional methods to bring people onto site other than through their own cars.

We remain in discussion with transport experts and the council planning department to understand the requirements fully prior to providing any full solutions. We thank you for your patience on this particular matter and are very aware of how contentious it is likely to be. Delivering a solution that works for the St Ives Estate and community is of vital importance to the project and also the regeneration of the Estate.

You’re talking about wider regeneration, how on earth can this happen, seeing as Bradford have no money, they can’t even afford to meet budgets for essential spends?

We are focused on bringing private and social investment into the area. We are not asking government or local government for financial support in this project. We have so far between us contributed over 1,000 unpaid volunteer hours to get the project to where it is and have a strong plan for how to fund the entire project.

It is our belief that individuals with a plan and the support of their community can do amazing things and bring investment and jobs into their areas. We would love Yorkshire Swim Works to be the first of many such ideas that gain traction up and down the country, matching private and social investment with the support of grant funders such as the National Lottery.

You claim some enormous revenue numbers, how have you arrived at that?

Without going into too much detail, the spreadsheets are enormous!

We have worked with the Future Lidos Group for the last few years and most recently Nick Stuart was the business sustainability specialist for the Pooling Resources project funded by the National Lottery. This project sought to bring out the best practices and guidance from operating lidos to provide a playbook for future lidos looking to establish themselves. Through this process we spoke to over 20 existing lidos and have been involved with many more.

Using this knowledge and our own from previous businesses we have calculated numbers using local populations, percentage of swimmers (Swim England data) and then benchmarked against other facilities that offer outdoor swimming. Pricing decisions are not final but again have been benchmarked against existing lidos and their current offerings.

Surely you can’t just fill a reservoir again, it could be dangerous and what about the Reservoirs Act

Filling the old reservoir does sound dangerous. We’re going to be building a pool within the reservoir itself. We are in consultation with the necessary authorities and specialists regarding the Reservoirs Act. it turns out there are less of these than you might expect. Or not! 

We have taken initial guidance from specialists across water safety, geology, civil engineering and we are expecting the pool to be designed and built by the number one company across Europe, they have built many naturally filtered water structures previously and none have failed.

Why not just join the campaign for cleaner rivers? Why purpose build a pool - surely its damaging for an already damaged environment?

Some incredible work is being done to campaign for cleaner rivers and we applaud each and every person who gives up their time and expertise to do so. Huge leaps are being made and enforcement of on water companies cannot come soon enough. Those who have followed our story know that we had our own challenges working with a water company. 

Rivers and lakes and other natural water structures are also not accessible to all. It is our hope that through consultation and speaking with other experts we will be able to find solutions that enable anybody and everybody to use Yorkshire Swim Works safely and enjoy the pleasure of outdoor swimming.

Yorkshire Swim Works will be built with sustainable materials wherever possible, the natural filtration will ensure we are not simply dumping chemicals into the pool and our principles of low environmental impact and working with nature will ensure that we will not be damaging the environment.

The filtration beds will be creating new areas of biodiversity to attract all sorts of aquatic insects and animals and will be a haven for wildlife.

Bingley Indoor Pool has just received £14.5m why is this needed when we can swim there?

We are incredibly excited about the news that Bingley indoor swimming pool will have the opportunity to re-open following this promised investment from the Levelling Up Fund. We are eager to collaborate with whoever is taking forward this project. There is a natural partnership and opportunity to connect the two facilities through Myrtle Park.

The offerings whilst both based around swimming are very different.

Yorkshire Swim Works at St Ives will be a place in the summer to swim, splash and spend the day. A day out for the whole family in nature with the opportunity to enjoy the wider St Ives Estate.

Why do we need another lido when we have Ilkley?

Ilkley Lido is a fantastic facility that serves the population of Ilkley and further afield. We are in regular contact with the Friends of Ilkley Lido, offering any help or knowledge picked up from our work with the Future Lido Group. We are absolutely certain that the lido is in safe hands and will continue to be a valuable blue space for communities for decades to come.

The lido is over an hour from Bingley via public transport, 40+ minutes from Bradford and the same from Keighley. Within five miles of the Kettlewell reservoir there are 277,000 people. Based on Swim England data that would equate to over 32,000 regular swimmers (people who swim at least twice a month). Within 10 miles these numbers jump to 628,000 and 72,000+.

Yorkshire Swim Works at St Ives will be a modern, purpose built, naturally filtered swimming facility with a focus on accessibility and sustainable practices. 

It will also encourage tourist visitors to the area to spend money in the local economy. We have used Visit Britain estimations (Great Britain Tourism Survey 2024) £245 per trip to calculate a positive impact of £2,450,000 annually. 

St.Ives is getting worse with more dangerous activity happening in the night, we don’t want to encourage this type of behaviour

Other parks in the Bradford District have suffered in the past from the same types of problems and an example of progress through investment can be found at Lister Park. In 1997 they were awarded almost £4m by the National Lottery. By 2021 this work was complete and in 2021 they celebrated their 20th year as a Green Flag holder, an accolade they have kept to this day.

It is our belief that investing in green and blue spaces can only have a positive impact on the local society. Sticking plaster solutions are not an investment but merely drain on tight council budgets. St Ives has the potential to be one of the most inspiring parks in the local area, building on its natural and built heritage to serve the wider community.

We aim to work with organisations that promote and improve our communities including Safer Communities initiatives.

What other sites have been considered for the project?

After receiving funding from Local Access Bradford District, we undertook a shortlisting approach to sites in the near area. We spoke to Bradford and Calderdale Councils and took suggestions from the public. Many sites were suggested that in theory could have matched the requirements for the project.

These sites were evaluated against our predetermined criteria. Kettlewell Reservoir outperformed all the other sites significantly owing to its accessibility via public transport, proximity to local large conurbations, proximity to areas classified as deprived and the potential impact it could deliver to a large population.

With a consensus reached that Kettlewell Reservoir was the best option, further feasibility and specialist surveys have been undertaken to ensure that it is indeed possible to build a landmark project for the area on the site.

Why does there need to be a lodge business?

We have worked extensively over the last 12 months with a number of existing lido operators, via our involvement with Future Lidos.

Caroline is on the Steering Group and Nick was the business sustainability expert on the Future Lido Group’s Pooling Resources Project that researched how lidos around the country are operating and how the best are making their facilities work.

Many lidos are really struggling but those that succeed have a secondary income stream that compliments and supports the pool business.

We also believe that overnight accommodation will enhance the experience, helping Yorkshire Swim Works to become a landmark destination.

We envisage encouraging visitors to the region, allowing them to stay and spend money locally. With an estimated 5,000 tourists per year staying for between two and three nights on average there is a potential boost to the regional economy of over £2,450,000 annually. Or £25m over the next decade.

Visit Bradford told us that more people are search for eco-experiences when researching the region, so we will be catering for the demand.  

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