Planners approve Sea Lanes 50m outdoor heated swimming pool on Brighton beach

A 50-metre open air swimming pool can be built on Brighton seafront after councillors granted planning permission this afternoon (Wednesday 10 March).

Sea Lanes Brighton already had permission for a 25-metre pool on the beach but said that it would build a heated 50m National Open Water Swimming Centre that would “transform Madeira Drive”.

The scheme, on the Peter Pan’s Playground site, also includes 74 “modular buildings” – fewer than 107 included in the previous proposals.

They would house changing rooms, saunas, yoga and fitness studios, shops, storage, plant rooms and space for other businesses including food and drink outlets.

Labour councillor Chris Henry said: “We think of ourselves as a young, fun and vibrant city. We need this. It’s great.

“I would like a bit more detail. But we need regeneration in that area. It will just be wonderful.”

Sea Lanes Brighton director Joe McNulty said: “We are delighted that Brighton and Hove City Council has granted us permission to go ahead.

“We hope to begin construction in the autumn with the outdoor heated pool and business units opening in spring 2022.

“The support we have had from the local community has been overwhelming and in the current climate we are looking forward to providing the Brighton community with better swimming facilities, jobs and security.”

The pop-up bar on the site will stay there until construction begins in the autumn.

Not everyone was impressed with the plans, notably Jim Gowans, from the council’s Conservation Advisory Group.

He told the council’s Planning Committee: “What we have is a proposal for what looks like an industrial estate on the beach.”

Mr Gowans said: “The problems are not only recognised by Heritage England but by (Brighton and Hove City Council) officers and also by the case officers themselves who seem to think that this is outweighed by the facilities on offer.”

But the council had very little detail of what was on offer, he said, and the detail available was not in keeping with the grade II* listed Madeira Terraces and the policies relating to the wider East Cliff Conservation Area.

An artist’s impression of the Sea Lanes pool from Madeira Drive

Independent councillor Bridget Fishleigh, who spent years campaigning for the restoration of Saltdean Lido, criticised the lack of detail.

She asked how deep the pool would be and how it would be built – but no one could answer.

Councillor Fishleigh said: “I am torn because I’d be swimming down there every day but we don’t have enough information.

“I don’t want another disaster on the seafront. I don’t think the city could stand for that again.”

She was also concerned that the original plans for a seawater pool had been dropped in favour of fresh chlorinated water which she said would be “environmentally damaging”.

Green councillor Sue Shanks said that, at 25C, the pool would be too cold for competition swimming and classes for young children but she welcomed the plans.

She said: “Generally, I welcome the pool – we’ve got the big sea out there – if it encourages more people to learn to swim.

“I still have quite a lot of questions but I hope these will be resolved when more details come back.”

Conservative councillor Carol Theobald said that she had happy memories of visiting Peter Pan’s Playground with her grandmother when she was a child.

An artist’s impression of the Sea Lanes Brighton site from the west

Councillor Theobald said: “When this first come up at planning as a 25-metre pool, I did say at the time it should be a 50-metre one.

“So I am delighted that this has been provided this time. I’m a bit dubious about the units for retail. There are so many empty units around.

“I do feel the access to the site might be good for cyclists and walkers but not so good for cars and buses.”

The committee said that the scheme should include cycle parking for people with mobility issues – and not just for traditional bikes. They also asked for an energy sustainability statement.

Green councillor Marianna Ebel said that the pool would help people to shift the pounds piled on during the coronavirus lockdown.

She said: “It will help to regenerate the area and offer opportunities which is really important. It will drive visitors to other parts of the city.”

The high ropes course planned for the area east of Yellowave and Sea Lanes in Madeira Drive in Brighton

The 50-metre pool was granted permanent planning permission, whereas the previous plans for a 25-metre pool were given temporary permission only.

The modular buildings, which should help fund the pool, were granted temporary permission for 10 years.

The site is just to the west of the Yellowave beach sports centre which is also next to the newly approved high rope course approved on the Jungle Rumble Adventure Golf site.

  1. Christian Reply

    Great that we are getting be a swimming pool at last what will be the cost to members off the public to use the swimming pool then I would like to now if you can have a member ship

  2. Steve Reply

    Sounds like a con trick offering a swimming pool but having more interest in the commercial units. Even the artist’s impression is trying to hide them behind all the people in the foreground! It would look so much better without them blocking the view of the pool and the sea. How this can be accepted without knowing all the details is mind numbing.

    • BAHTAG Reply

      Steve above says:
      “It sounds like a con trick … “.
      It certainly does!

      Adding to far too long a list of City Council debacles, which have cost honest taxpayers tens of millions since Hove and Brighton merged in 1997 (of which, horrifyingly, the more than £40m lost on the i360 vanity project + surroundings is not even the worst – ‘Golden Goodbyes’ in 1996-97 for Labour to be rid of loyal & professional senior staff at Hove Borough Council is an ongoing financial burden until all of them, and their spouses,have passed away.
      And the full extent of the financial disaster of the deal/con with Banco Santander to lease-out 499 council houses still has to see the light of day!).

      Anyway the Report to the Council’s Planning Committee for last Wednesday gives some clues.

      Regrettably it says nothing about the rent to be charged to Sea Lanes for them to try to make money out of land which we, as taxpayers, and which we currently have free and unrestricted access to.

      So, in one part, the Report for last Wednesday speaks of the project being marginally viable (financially, that is).

      But elsewhere in the Report we read that there’s no expectation of significantly more swimmers that the 25m pool was expected to attract.

      So how is a profit to be made, given the significant extra build, operation, & maintenance costs of a 50m pool compared to the original 25m pool?

      The Report does not seem to recognise that major question?

      And as to restricting the number of swimmers in the pool?

      Well, for those willing to believe it, the Report says that the 6 or so lanes (probably defineded by a floating rope) will always be in place, so once a swimmer’s using a lane that’s what they’re restricted to (so presumably no other swimmers can use the same lane, since the first swimmer might be planning to swim back to do several lengths of the pool)!

      Naturally lane-ropes are needed for swimming competitions – but will such swimmers pay a much higher price for quasi-exclusive use of the pool? Unlikely, surely?

      But, being on our beach, most people will probably expect it to mainly be a recreational pool – with lots of room for many swimmers on busy days, with the lane-ropes having been taken away, feels to be a much more likely scenario? Also out of commercial necessity?

      So where does the truth lie?

      In fact, as reported in the article above, this Planning Report provides almost no information upon which any Committee could reach a rational decision!

      The Report proposes Conditions 1 to 21, many of which are actually multi-part, and most of which require the developer to submit more information,

      This means that neither us, the public, nor our Councillors, actually have much of an idea as to how the built development will actually look and operate!

      Over the last 15 years or so this issue, of incomplete Planning Applications where Councillors will never get to vote over all the details of a project, has steadily been getting worse!

      Such a lax approach actually undermines the supposedly democratic process of granting, or refusing, Planning Permission must be halted!

      A key principle of the need to have sufficient information with which to fully evaluate development proposals is the consideration that City residents have, in our crowded City, almost certainly have invested a large amount of money in buying their home, in a neighbourhood of which they were aware when they purchased.

      So, to maintain fairness in an established community, every development propsal needs very close professional examination – to avoid detriment to all those who’ve already invested in that neighbourhood.

      However there’s a very simple initial solution:
      our elected Councillors need to tell the Council’s Planning Officers to refuse to accept Planning Applications lacking sufficient accurate information.

      And for any that slip through the net, and get to the Planning Committee with lots of details still to be secretly agreed by Council officers at a future date the Committee Members just need to be brave enough to send premature Reports back to the Planning Dept to be worked-on.

      And at a national level we need a brave Parliament to give ‘Third-party Rights of Appeal’ to anyone aggrieved by the outcome of a Planning Application.

      An aggrieved developer had a right of appeal to a Gov’t Planning Inspector, so aggrieved citizens just need to be granted a similar right of appeal, surely?

      Theoretically an aggrieved objector, if rich enough to immediately engage a powerful legal team can seek a Judicial Review.

      But where an unwelcome grant of Planning Permission has been made by the Council’s Planning Committee the long-standing approach of the High Court has been felt to be:
      ‘Well, it’s your elected Councillors who took that decision – so you don’t really expect the Court to interfere with your local democracy, do you?’.

      And lastly, after going through the Report, just how is this pool to be heated?

      Our City Council has already passed resolutions to achieve ‘Carbon Neutral’ by 2030.

      Fundamentally no more Greenhouse Gas emissions means no more combustion anywhere, not even at a power-station miles away!

      Which means green electricity is becoming too valuable to be wasted on heating a thermally-inefficient outdoor pool – every Watt of power is needed for de-carbonisation, not for people’s sybaritic pleasures, which have already brought us to the brink of catastrophe – with the undeniable evidence of glaciers melting instead of being stable or growing!

      And also for this pool there’s a simple solution, not even directly involving the Planning system.

      As the freehold land-owner our City Council just needs to say that Sea Lanes can only lease the land for a development which begins by being carbon-neutral, and is retained as such.

      Not difficult technically – the proposed pool faces almost due south, so there’s an obvious potential for a mix of solar PV + solar thermal.

      And if that’s not enough power & heat then there’s geothermal heat readily available just a few metres down
      – because of year-round infiltration of sea-water at about 9deg C (with which to be brought-up to 25deg C by a heat-pump).

      Not economically viable? Tough – then bin the project, it’s the duty of all of us to protect the planet, don’t you know?

      So there’s a major decision for the new-ish Green Administration – will you really do decarbonisation seriously, or will you be as hypocritical as your colleagues were during their Administration of 2011-15?

      It’s already past the time for devloped societies to row-back from wasteful frivolous luxuries – so will our Greens now show some common-sense, please?

  3. Jim Blackton Reply

    Are there going to be decent (cost sensitive) steam and sauna (of decent size and quality) attached to the pool to create an experience or will this purely be a heated pool???

    • Will S. Reply

      The stated temperature of 25c is in the correct range for competitive swimming of 25c to 27.7c (77-82 degrees Fahrenheit).

      The councillor would appear misinformed as FINA mandate a temperature of between 25c and 28c for both competition and Olympic pools.

  4. Michael Reply

    If the standard of the CGIs is anything to go by, then god help us

  5. STEVE BENNETT Reply

    Hi Joe
    I think this well be good for county swimmers, and triathletes though I do have my reservations for other swimmers who my be overwhelmed by the length.If you haven,t thought of this already I have an idear you may want to consider.Fitting a removable pontoon half way
    Most of the competition pools are 25M and county swimmers train for tumble turns and time splits.
    This could be used in a time schedule say 3 days a week so general use of pool would suit everyone. Clubs and the public

    Steve ( Ex Swimmer )

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