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Revamped Forest Hill Pools set to make big splash
THE REVAMPED Forest Hill Pools is set to make a grand splash on a community who fought for six years to save the swimming baths.
The reopening of the Victorian-fronted pools - which might be in time for the Olympics - marks a public triumph after they were closed in 2006 and earmarked for demolition.
Lewisham Council chose to shut the baths and rebuild a leisure facility elsewhere after glass from the roof began to fall into the ageing pool - which was itself cracking.
But they made a u-turn after public outcry over the historic baths - where 3,500 people engaged in consultation and 6,000 put their name to a petition.
The original two-pool building has been kept and extended skywards to fit a learner pool, main pool, gym, two multi-purpose studios and changing rooms into the tight but airy space.
The main six-lane pool spans 25m with an undulating roof design and is overlooked by the 70 station gym - claimed to be the largest public exercise room in the borough.
A spacious community cafe complete with outdoor terrace also straddles the building, replacing a small disused park.
Chair of nearby Sydenham Society Annabel McLaren said: "It is very positive - it is going to be a great new facility for Forest Hill and Sydenham because it is on the border.
"More shops are opening as a result to give an uplift to the area and now businesses are opening along Dartmouth Road."
Barry Milton of Sydenham Society added: "It is an absolutely superb building - the way it is so light inside.
"The regeneration of Dartmouth Road is very important and this will help."
The £8.9m project gained planning permission in 2010 and building began in early 2011 by contractors Willmott Dixon.
The unveiling of the leisure centre - which will be run by Fusion - was first set for December 2012 but is now anticipated for July - a final date is yet to be fixed.