Sandford Parks Lido

Site: Sandford Parks Lido
Type: Civic Building
Location: Cheltenham (Gloucestershire)
Owner: Cheltenham Borough Council
Lessee: Sandford Lido Ltd


Sandford Parks Lido was under threat of closure before its management was taken over from the Borough Council by a newly formed charitable trust in 1996.

A grant from Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) was secured alongside a range of direct donations. In addition, the Gloucestershire Environmental Trust contributed money raised from Landfill Tax Credits.

A conservation management plan has been produced which records the history of the lido and its value to the local community. This is an important tool in helping to guide the ongoing management of the site.


The pool is one of 98 remaining lidos in the UK and was originally opened in 1935. Although unlisted, it is regarded as a nationally important example of its type. By the 1980s it was under threat of closure and redevelopment, reflecting a downward turn in the fortunes of lidos and local authority funding across the country. The Borough Council was recommended either to close the lido or to set up a charitable trust.

As a result, Sandford Lido Ltd was established in 1996 to take over the running of the asset from the Council on a 25-year lease. The current lease runs out in 2021 and the trust is looking to negotiate another long lease. The relationship with the Council is very strong and the facility is one of the top five visitor attractions for the town of Cheltenham.

In 2006 a significant grant was received from HLF to help deal with the serious structural defects affecting the main pool. As a condition of this, a detailed conservation management plan was drawn up which establishes the significance of the site and its community value. It also provides a practical guide for the future management of the site.

A successful model

The lido employs two full-time and three part-time members of staff and recruits 30 or more seasonal employees to lifeguard, clean and run the reception. Visitor numbers and revenue are weather dependent, and the hot summer of 2014 resulted in the lido recording over 206,000 visitors, beating the annual visitor number set in 1959.

In 2012 the facility was offered as an Olympic training facility and was used by the Malawi team, generating much local interest. A programme of sporting events across all levels of competition and a 'Swim Fit' scheme help to ensure regular usage.

The project has benefited from an active volunteers group which has helped to increase revenues by supporting fundraising activities such as a programme of triathlons and theatre and cinema nights.


The renovation of Sandford Parks Lido is a good example of how the transfer of a heritage asset, in this case an outdoor swimming pool, can attract additional funding.

In addition to the £382,500 raised from HLF, a further £250,000 of funding was generated via direct donations and fundraising initiatives. A grant of £50,000 from the Gloucestershire Environmental Trust was secured with the help of contributions from Landfill Tax Credits.

Apart from revenue raised from use of the lido itself, income has also been generated through developing an adjacent pay-and-display car park, the licensing of a café on site and leasing a fitness centre.

These income streams help fund annual repairs and improvements of approximately £30,000 a year in an average year and up to £100,000 on essential maintenance in peak years.

The trust is investigating options to lower its utility bills and is considering a combined heat and power (CHP) system and forming a partnership with the adjacent hospital.