By Alexandra Warren and James Mayer, Local Democracy Reporter
A £3.5 million investment in a South London historic lido and athletics track has passed the final hurdle.
A total of £3 million will be invested in restoring Tooting Bec’s lido and £527,000 to fully replace the running surface at the Tooting Bec’s athletics track.
Money has been committed to replace both pump houses at the lido into a single building with a new filtration system and pipework, pool liner and electrical substation.
The lido, which dates back to 1906, is the largest open-air freshwater pool in the UK.
Every year there are around 133,500 visitors at the lido.
Tooting Bec’s athletics track is now worn in places and needs replacing which will start in the new year.
Olympic long-jumper Jade Johnson and Tooting MP Rosena Allin-Khan backed the campaign to resurface the track.
Ms Johnson, who competed in the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games, said the news was an “amazing early Christmas present”.
She added: “I’m over the moon that Tooting Bec Athletics track is going to get the investment it so desperately needs to allow the community, athletes, and coaches to feel confident training, competing and using it to keep themselves mentally and physically fit.
“It is a huge relief to know the track is safe for generations to come. I’m so proud of everyone involved in helping to make this happen.”
The stadium is a local, regional, and national resource which welcomes athletes, school and club competitions and provides for community use, sports development and competitive athletics.
In 2019 to 2020 more than 83,000 people visited the venue with around half of them using the running track.
Dr Allin-Khan said:“We did it. Our local campaign to save Tooting Bec Athletics Track is a success.
“Over 2000 local residents signed the petition, and Wandsworth council have finally listened to our community and agreed to fund the much-needed repairs.
“We first raised this issue earlier in the year, but the Conservative council continually rejected our calls to fund repairs, instead insisting the track was fit for purpose.
“The council should never have waited this long, but I am delighted our beloved track is finally getting the resurface it deserves.”
Wandsworth council leader Ravi Govindia said: “People describe Tooting Bec lido as the jewel in the crown of London’s open air swimming pools and they are quite right to do so.
“It is a much-loved local amenity and the plans we have now formally approved should keep it open and in good shape for the next 50 years.”
On the athletics track, Cllr Govindia said: “Unlike some boroughs which don’t have even one high quality running track, here in Wandsworth we are lucky to have two, both of which offer the full range of athletics disciplines to semi-professional standard.
“This is why we judged it vital to secure the funding needed to replace the track and safeguard its future.”
Plans for funding were approved in Wandsworth council’s executive meeting on Monday, December 6.
Pictured top: Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP campaigning to resurface the athletics track.
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