AMBITIOUS plans to re-open Otley Lido have been unveiled this week.

The town has been without an outdoor swimming pool since the one at Wharfemeadows Park closed in 1993.

The lido was filled in and, in recent years, has become an eyesore as the site remains unused.

As recently reported, however, Leeds City Council is now seeking someone to take out a 125-year lease on the plot and use it for a 'leisure/cafe-type' development.

The newly-formed Friends of Otley Lido believe that represents a golden opportunity to get the lido up and running again.

They aim to:

l have the land registered as an Asset of Community Value

l set up a Community Interest Company to raise funds; and

l restore the old pool, create community rooms in its buildings and rejuvenate the cafe and bowling green facilities.

The group's acting chairman, Bridge Avenue resident Leonie Sharpe, said: "We have long harboured ambitions to restore this site back to a viable community lido.

"Leeds City Council has spurred us on by opening this up for expressions of interests.

"It would be a tragedy if our lido site wasn’t restored to its original use as an outdoor swimming facility. It won’t be easy, but we are not fools.

"Together in our group, we have plenty of experience in campaigning in our community. We will use our collective knowledge, passion and connections to bring our lido back into existence."

The group, which has a Facebook page and dedicated website, plans to use crowdfunding to finance a feasibility study, and will then look at identifying grants to pay for the development itself.

Leonie added: "Lidos like this are being restored around the country with Lottery Heritage and sporting funding.

"We can learn from these successes to manage this as a viable, community project."

Otley's ward councillors have expressed support, in principle.

Councillor Ryk Downes (Lib Dem, Otley and Yeadon) said: "On the face of it, I like the idea.

"A lido was one of the top things people told us they wanted when we consulted them about it last year, along with a good, river-facing cafe and toilets with longer opening hours.

"So, if this could be delivered, that would be great.

"I welcome people putting forward any ideas that would put this land back into a popular community use."

Cllr Colin Campbell (Lib Dem, Otley and Yeadon) added: "I wish them all the best and am more than willing to give them any help they need."

British lidos had their heyday in the 1930s, but many closed in later decades as foreign holidays became cheaper.

There are currently about 130 in England, including Ilkley Lido, which was built in 1935 – 11 years after Otley Lido opened.

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