Belmont Baths project wins NSW government grant

Funding boost: Parliamentary secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald and Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser at the waterfront in Belmont with plans for the new-look Belmont Baths. Picture: Simone De Peak
Funding boost: Parliamentary secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald and Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser at the waterfront in Belmont with plans for the new-look Belmont Baths. Picture: Simone De Peak

The restoration of Belmont Baths has received a shot in the arm, with an injection of almost half a million dollars from the NSW government.

Lake Macquarie City Council was successful in its application for a grant to build a new amenities block as part of the plan to restore the Belmont Baths area to its former glory as a popular community swimming spot.

Parliamentary secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald announced the state would kick in $432,422 on Monday, under the Stronger Country Communities grant scheme.

It comes after Lake Macquarie council released concept plans for the restored baths in November, which showed a new 70-metre-long jetty – to replace what was destroyed during the super storm in 2015 – and 45-metre-wide protected swimming area.

Vision: Lake Macquarie City Council has released a concept plan of what the re-established Belmont Baths facility will look like when completed.

Vision: Lake Macquarie City Council has released a concept plan of what the re-established Belmont Baths facility will look like when completed.

There will also be a ramp which will provide easy access to deep water and an aquatic wheelchair for people to use to get to the water from the amenities block.

The funding announced on Monday will pay for the demolition of the amenities block and construction of a new facility.

It will feature a fully accessible shower, toilet and change room, aquatic wheelchair storage and outdoor and indoor showers. 

The existing amenities block will be demolished in July before construction begins in October. 

Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser said the baths were expected to be complete early next year.

Belmont Baths in 1972. Picture: Newcastle Herald archives

Belmont Baths in 1972. Picture: Newcastle Herald archives

“When you look at Belmont, it’s a suburb that’s growing, there are a lot of young families in this suburb, there’s a lot of units and they don’t have a [public] swimming pool,” she said.

“With the public transport, that’s an issue now and I think we need to be providing those facilities. It’ll just be a nice place to spend weekends and afternoons.”

Cr Fraser said ensuring the baths were accessible to everyone was at the front of council’s mind.

“We’re in an ageing society, there’s a lot of people who have a disability so council should be providing accessibility to the water,” Cr Fraser said.

“Because I’m able-bodied doesn’t mean I should be given a priority to use the water over someone with a disability who can’t access the water. To me, that’s not fair.”

Mr MacDonald said he’d noticed the project had strong community support.

“I had people come to me, they were just very keen for it to be done,” he said.

“They brought pictures of what the baths used to look like in the 50s, 60s and 70s – it was very popular, great for families. 

“They wanted it back in that sort of condition.

“I think it is iconic, I think it will be well-used.”

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