Bank of 56 solar panels at Richmond Swimming Pool ‘will not harm conservation area’, council claims

Richmond Swimming Pool.

A swimming pool redevelopment will not impact on the character of the conservation area where it is located, it has been claimed.

Richmondshire District Council has applied to itself for consent refurbish Richmond Swimming Pool, including works to make the property wind and waterproof and introducing measures to improve its environmental sustainability.

Last year, a £1.4m scheme was only narrowly approved, by the council chairman’s casting vote, after councillors disagreed over whether all the works were affordable.

However, in January the authority’s corporate board approved borrowing £462,000 to cover numerous extra costs and schemes that had since arisen as part of the first major upgrade of the building, which is south of the River Swale at Old Station Yard, in three decades.

The works form part of the council’s Richmond Swimming Pool Improvement Programme, which seeks to ensure the facility has a long-term future, as well as implementing energy efficiency measures to reduce the carbon footprint of the pool by up to 45 per cent in CO2 and cutting its running costs.

The planning papers state the revamp works will include renewing the building’s roof coverings, acid cleaning and repairs of existing stonework, introducing 56 photovoltaic solar panels on south east aspect of the roof and an air source heat pump.

As the pool lies within the Richmond Conservation Area and next to the grade II listed former engine shed and Pegasus House and the grade II* Richmond Garden and Farm Supply Centre, the council has also paid for a study of the potential heritage impact.

The heritage study concludes that due to the like-for-like use of materials associated with the refurbishment of the building and renewal of roof coverings, alongside the discreet location and nature of the solar panels and air source heat pump, the development would not harm the significance of the conservation area or listed buildings.

The heritage report added: “For the avoidance of doubt, it is noted that even if less than substantial harm were to be concluded, it is considered the public benefits of the scheme are significant arising from the refurbishment and sustainable retrofitting of the building to ensure the swimming pool would continue to provide a long-term, valued community facility to Richmond.

“It is considered these significant public benefits would in any event clearly outweigh any less than substantial harm, were that to be concluded.”