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Last Updated: Friday, 27 August, 2004, 10:31 GMT 11:31 UK
U-turn on lido listing defended
The lido interior
English Heritage says it is a rare and unique lido
English Heritage has defended its U-turn on a decision to grant a run-down outdoor swimming pool listed status.

The body which advises the government has now backed the move to grant the King's Meadow lido in Reading, Berkshire, Grade II listed status.

After Thursday's announcement, council chiefs said English Heritage was "irresponsible" for changing its mind on the Edwardian pool's future.

But on Friday the group said its change of heart was due to "new information".

Spokeswoman Helen Nesbitt said: "Although the building had previously been rejected for listing, English Heritage advised listing on this occasion in light of new information about the building.

King's Meadow lido
The lido was built in 1902 for the use of female bathers
"In the original assessment the building was compared to contemporary indoor pools, which are often part of much wider complexes.

"The new information made it possible to compare it to the few other open-air pools of this date and in comparison to these it is very elaborate.

"Our conclusion is that it is a very rare and un-altered example of an Edwardian women's swimming pool.

"It is an unusual pool that may even be unique - there are almost no comparable surviving pools in England."

Reading Borough Council had demanded an explanation as to why English Heritage changed its mind.

Councillor John Howarth, the council's planning boss, said: "The way English Heritage have gone about this is both inconsistent and irresponsible."

Listing the building does not change the fact that it is not viable for the council to run a modern swimming facility on this site
Councillor Catherine Wilton
There were plans for the site to be developed into a hotel and leisure complex which sparked a heated local campaign to save the pool and win it protected status.

Campaigners now want to see the baths developed into a heated swimming pool and winter ice rink.

But councillor Catherine Wilton, the council's culture boss, said: "Unfortunately, listing the building does not change the fact that it is not viable for the council to run a modern swimming facility on this site.

"We just hope that an opportunity to create greater public access to the riverside has not been lost through this decision."




SEE ALSO:
Lido listing sparks historic row
26 Aug 04  |  Berkshire
Locals fight to save outdoor pool
20 Jul 04  |  Berkshire


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