New pool and cafe among proposals for Otley 'eyesore' site

Wharfedale Observer: Councillor Ryk Downes, pictured in Wharfemeadows Park, who appealed to residents to give suggestions as to what to do with the “eyesore” old swimming pool in the park Councillor Ryk Downes, pictured in Wharfemeadows Park, who appealed to residents to give suggestions as to what to do with the “eyesore” old swimming pool in the park

More than 100 residents have suggested how an Otley park’s old swimming pool site could be rejuvenated.

Councillor Ryk Downes (Lib Dem, Otley and Yeadon) appealed for suggestions in January after publicly branding the area, in Wharfemeadows Park, an “eyesore” and urging Leeds City Council to take action.

Coun Downes says he has been heartened by the level of response, which has included support for:

  • opening a new outdoor pool, possibly heated by energy generated from a hydro-power turbine on the nearby weir
  • a new and improved cafe and toilets facility with longer opening hours
  • a fitness centre and youth hub.

Coun Downes said: “More than 100 people have responded so far, with the most support being for an improved cafe and toilets offer – one that is open more often and facing the river.

“A return of boats to the River Wharfe, based at the site, and an outdoor swimming pool, possibly heated by hydro-power from the turbine which is to be installed on the weir, are other suggestions.

“There has also been support for a clubhouse for the bowling club, a fitness centre/gym and a youth hub/centre.”

Stressing the need for improvements, he added: “I was at the play park with my grandson recently when he wanted an ice cream, and also to use the facilities.

“It was early Saturday afternoon but the cafe was closed so we had to walk into town – my guests thought it was appalling that there were no open facilities on site.

“With a full play park there was plenty of demand.”

Fellow Lib Dem ward councillors Colin Campbell and Sandy Lay are also backing the push to enhance the “already very popular” park.

Coun Lay said: “The response has been tremendous with lots of residents expressing their thoughts on the future of this important location.

“We are now in the process of pulling together a meeting of all interested parties with a view to coming up with a plan for discussion later in the year.”

Anyone with an idea for consideration for the site should contact Coun Downes at ryk. downes@leeds.gov.uk or write to him c/o: Civic Hall, Leeds, LS1 1UR.

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