Plans to resurrect historic Bon Accord Baths have been given a considerable boost after Aberdeen City Council agreed to lend its support to the effort.
Bon Accord Heritage (BAH) could now access new sources of funding, bringing it another step closer to reopening the much-loved leisure centre on Justice Mill Lane.
It has been closed to the public since 2008, and the group has already spent thousands of pounds on measures to keep rainwater, wind and vandals out after gaining access two years ago.
The council had previously decided against giving the restoration project a share of the £150 million set aside for the Aberdeen city centre masterplan.
Then in opposition, SNP and Lib Dem councillors had pushed for public money to be used to breathe new life into the category B-listed building.
Tories lead efforts to seal council support
The latest push came from the Conservatives, who promised official support for the Bon Accord Baths project in their manifesto ahead of May’s local elections.
Quoting Shakespeare’s play Henry V, Tory councillor Michael Kusznir urged his colleagues to “summon up the blood” to vote in favour of his call.
He said: “Yes, it is going to cost millions. Yes, it is going to be difficult.
“But yes, it is going to be beneficial for our community; yes, it is going to save another historical Art Deco building in the city; and yes, it is going to benefit Aberdeen for generations to come.”
After a discussion with administration councillors resulting in minor changes, the support was agreed unanimously.
Miranda Radley, the SNP communities convenor, said: “I hope that by confirming the council’s formal support, Bon Accord Heritage will now be able to access external funding streams.
“I look forward to seeing the business case come back at a later date.”
Welcoming visitors back to baths
Local indie band The Little Kicks even used the swimming pool as a backdrop in the video for their song Ruminations.
It all reflects the campaign group’s vision for a diversified venue that is as much a space for the community as it is a leisure centre.
They plan to allow locals to open up stalls and cafes on the site, establishing it as a hub while continuing to raise money for the ongoing restoration.
Council bosses have been asked to draw up a report on the group’s business case and on the commercial viability of the project.
It is hoped it can go before councillors ahead of next year’s budget.
Graham Cooper, a trustee of BAH, was watching the council action unfold from the public gallery.
He said: “Further to previous initial feasibility work, we have already appointed and been collaborating with external consultants.
“They will prepare an advanced feasibility study and a business plan, which are essential pre-requisites in order to pursue external funding.
“We look forward to working constructively with the council as this project moves forward.”