Stage 1 Upgrade of Pool and Plant Room Systems
Stage 1 of the pool upgrade programme comprised strengthening and re-rendering the pool structure, tiling the whole pool for the first time, plus a substantial upgrade of the plant room systems (filters, pumps, pipework, skimmers, chemical water treatment), to increase the rate of water flow and thereby help enhance water quality and efficiency of pool maintenance.
This was successfully completed by July 2020 and the pool re-opened, following partial lifting of the covid restrictions, on 1 August 2020. The pool has continued to operate successfully under covid restrictions, with a booking system and lanes, from an earlier opening date than usual of April, during 2021.
Stage 2 Rebuild Changing Rooms planning
The principal aim of Stage 2 is to rebuild the very old timber-built changing rooms which have become dilapidated. New high quality changing cubicles and toilet facilities will be provided, along with a suitable signing-in/ information room and secure storage for chemicals and equipment, to meet latest health and safety standards. Redesign plans for the cubicles have sought to preserve the existing, traditional style of wooden changing cubicles with multi-coloured doors, much liked by members, as well as the corrugated roofing.
There will also be a dedicated changing room for disabled swimmers, facilitating disabled access to the pool for the first time by also raising the new changing rooms to pool level, providing ramps to allow wheelchair access, an additional hand-rail and a mobile hoist. These plans received planning permission from Guildford Borough Council during 2020.
A specification of requirements for contractors was prepared in early 2021 and an invitation to tender issued to a range of local builders. Following recent evaluation the builder Rob Arrow has been selected to undertake the project, with a start date of later in October. A contract and final budget are in the process of being finalised. Structural and topographical surveys have been undertaken and a Building Control company appointed. Total costs for the builder plus these additional advisors and some other pool equipment are now estimated to amount to around £90,000.
Installation of an air source heat pump (ASHP)
Investigation is continuing to evaluate proposals to acquire an air source heat pump (ASHP), to supplement the gas boilers, for heating the pool. This could be used in conjunction with the existing boilers or it might be more efficient, perhaps as a second stage, to replace the existing boilers with one more powerful modern boiler. The evaluation has identified the prospect of materially reducing annual energy costs (a combination of gas and electricity charges) through use of an ASHP, as well as substantially reducing carbon emissions, providing considerable environmental benefits.
The gas boilers would still be used, but primarily to heat up the pool for the season, from the minimum temperature which it is necessary to maintain throughout the winter months (to protect the tiling) to the normal operating temperature. The ASHP would be used to top up the water temperature throughout the year, facilitating the operation of the pool more cost-effectively for the longer operating season, now from April to October.
Latest indications are that the new ASHP plus supporting equipment and installation could cost in the order of £30,000. However, additional quotes still need to be evaluated in order to confirm the most cost-effective proposal. It is therefore hoped that this cost can be reduced as a result of competitive tendering and negotiation with potential suppliers. Total funds required for Stage 2 plus the ASHP therefore amount to £120,000.
After paying for all Stage 1 costs and the positive financial outcome from the restricted 2020 swimming season, the club has £18,000 of funds still available which can be assigned to help fund Stage 2 (leaving a cash reserve of £6,000). To this can be added a further grant of £25,000 agreed with Sport England.
In addition, £11,350 has been received in further donations from members and around £8,500 is recoverable in Gift Aid. Members deserve our enormous thanks for being so generous. Increased member subscriptions in 2021 should help increase the total operating surplus expected for 2021 to around £15,000. In combination this should all provide a total of (a rounded) £78,000 available in grants and other funds of our own to fund Stage 2 and the ASHP. That leaves a shortfall of £42,000.
However, we have been offered a £20,000 loan from Shere Parish Council, repayable over five years.
If SSPC takes this then we will have £98,000 in funds, more than sufficient to cover the full costs of the Stage 2 Changing Room Rebuild, so that this can proceed as planned in October. This would still not, though, be enough to cover the cost of the ASHP, leaving a remaining shortfall of £22,000.
If a further grant could be obtained to cover the full shortfall without taking a loan this would be the preferred option, rather than having to rely on use of operating surpluses in future years. An additional grant is currently being applied for through Your Fund Surrey, a substantial fund which it has been possible for Surrey County Council to set aside to support community projects right across the county. It is likely that it will be several months before the outcome of this grant bid will be known, but members will be updated as soon as possible.
The Trustees remain very committed to raising the extra money and delivering both these elements of the very beneficial upgrades planned, during 2021 and early 2022.