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Name it Domain!

Fancy a swim in the Yarra?

07 Sep 2017

Fancy a swim in the Yarra? Image

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 pedestrian links existed via Queens Bridge and between Crown Promenade and the Aquarium, which placed Southbank in a most advantageous position.

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, cafe and changing facilities.

With stage one estimated at around $8 million, Mr O’Neill told Southbank Local News 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 from both the public and private sectors 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 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 a neglected part of our city and Mr O’Neill said a swimming pool was just the thing that could help breathe life back into the area.

“You talk to people about Enterprize Park and they’re often like ‘where’s that’?” he said. “You just look at the history of it as well that it was a swimming spot. The river needs it and that spot needs something.”

“This offers all those solutions to staying out of the way of existing river traffic of which there is not much anyway compared to other cities. We won’t impede any of that.”

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

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