Fancy a swim in the Yarra?

By Sean Car

Not-for-profit group Yarra Pools has released a concept for a floating swimming pool in the Yarra River in the turning basin near Enterprize Park. 

The concept’s brainchildren, environmental scientist Michael O’Neill and Yarra Swim Co president Matt Stewart, believe the initiative will help breathe life back into the Northbank and create a year-round attraction for locals and tourists.

Mr O’Neill said direct existing pedestrian links via Queens Bridge and between Crown Promenade and the Aquarium placed Northbank in the most advantageous position to the potential new pool.

Stage one of Yarra Pools’ three-stage concept includes plans for an enclosed 25m controlled water pool, a kid’s pool, fishing pontoon, floating wetlands, events kiosk, café and changing facilities.

With stage one estimated at around $8 million, Mr O’Neill told CBD News that Yarra Pools had set its timeline for opening the pool in time for summer in 2019.

He said that, while the response to the idea had been very positive, the project still had to overcome a number of regulatory and funding challenges.

“Because we’re on and off water you have people in charge of different areas so we very much see ourselves as positive disruptors if you wanted to use a better word,” he said.

“It is pushing all of the regulatory regimes from water quality through to planning. It’s kind of working out a way of getting all of these groups together to sort of start having these conversations.”

A range of user groups and stakeholders will now assess the concept before students from RMIT University will be handed the challenge of coming up with designs for the project early next year.

With a detailed concept, design and business case expected to be finalised by April 2018, it is hoped construction of stage one will start in April 2019 subject to funding.

Positioned in the widest part of the lower Yarra, the turning basin was a popular swimming spot in early Melbourne and also possesses great historical significance as the founding place of our great city.

However, despite its rich history Enterprize Park has become neglected and Mr O’Neill said a swimming pool was just the thing that could help breathe life back into the area.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle described the concept as an intriguing proposal that could prove to be “a wonderful addition to our city”.

Michael O’Neill will speak at a walking tour of Southbank, which begins at Enterprize Park on Sunday, October 8. For more information about the event and the pool concept visit yarrapools.com

What do you think about a swimming pool in the Yarra River? Send your thoughts to news@cbdnews.com.au

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