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Friday 28th June 2024

Trio of FoOL Supporters Elected Members of Parliament

​​FoOL now boasts three local MPs amongst its supporters subsequent to the General Election:

  • Katie White OBE is our new constituency MP in Leeds North West

  • Alex Sobel remains an MP in the new seat of Leeds Central and Headingley

  • Rachel Reeves represents the new Leeds West and Pudsey constituency

FoOL congratulates all three and expresses commiserations to the other candidates.

Katie ‘reached out’ to FoOL several months ago to affirm her support. This was most welcome in light of the fact Alex Sobel - Katie’s predecessor - has been a strong and vocal supporter for a number of years and instrumental in securing Rachel Reeves’ endorsement.


Therefore, we continue to have the invaluable support of our constituency MP. We look forward to working with Katie to move our project forward and bring benefits to our community. Additionally, we now have MPs representing two neighbouring constituencies backing our project too.


Leeds North West candidate for the Liberal Democrats Cllr Ryk Downes remains a Leeds City Council member (Otley and Yeadon Ward) whilst Green Party candidate Cllr Mick Bradley continues as an Otley Town Council member (Danefield Ward). We thank both for their long-standing support and look forward to continuing to work with them.


FoOL has previously secured the backing of Cllr Downes’ Otley and Yeadon Ward colleagues on Leeds City Council - Cllrs Colin Campbell and Sandy Lay. Additionally, Leader of Leeds City Council - Cllr James Lewis - has offered the council’s support and it continues to engage with us in respect of the site and other matters. Otley Town Council continues to endorse the project - having previously unanimously voted to pledge a £5,000 grant plus enshrined its support in the Otley Neighbourhood Plan - with Cllr Richard Hughes (Chair) actively engaging with us. Finally, Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin and Otley resident Baroness Blake are also behind our project.


FoOL are grateful to each and every one for their endorsements and assistance. We aim to build on these firm foundations by engaging with other local politicians in light of the General Election results in addition to continuing to seek the backing of other local councils.

Please note: FoOL is an apolitical organisation that engages across the political spectrum in order to gain the necessary support for our project so we can deliver benefits for our community. None of the above implies (or intends to imply) support for - or an endorsement of - any candidate(s), individual(s) or political party (or parties) either locally or nationally. It is merely an update in respect of the support FoOL enjoys subsequent to the 2024 General Election.

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Katie White OBE

Tracy Brabin & Alex Sobel Photo.jpg

Alex Sobel with West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin supporting FoOL's crowdfunding campaign in 2021

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Rachel Reeves with Leonie Sharp (FoOL Chair) supporting FoOL's crowdfunding campaign in 2021

Appointment FMG & SBA

Friday 28th June 2024

Appointment of FMG & Saunders Boston Architects to Undertake Feasibility Study and Outline Business Planning

​​We are delighted to announce the appointment of sport and leisure consultancy FMG partnered with Saunders Boston Architects to undertake an initial feasibility study and outline business planning.


Both companies are highly regarded and experienced in the sport and leisure sector including projects supported by Sport England. Crucially, both companies – plus the lead consultants and architect - have significant experience with pools and lidos. Equally important, they have demonstrated an understanding of the specific challenges faced by community projects and have experience in partnering community groups to deliver pragmatic solutions in consultation with multiple stakeholders.

FMG & Saunders Boston Logos.png

​​The work shall commence shortly and last around 12-14 weeks and includes market analysis, stakeholder consultation, designing ‘masterplans’ for the site, indicative capital costs, defining operational parameters, and financial modelling to produce a 10 year outline business plan(s) plus a 25 year projection.


Our aim is to present the results to stakeholders - including the community - later in the year as part of our centenary year celebrations to mark the opening of Otley baths in 1924.


For more information and a comprehensive project update please continue reading…


Fundraising History

At the end of 2021, FoOL raised over £60,000 through crowdfunding – this included two significant contributions from Sport England plus strong community backing demonstrated by our 876 unique supporters. Councils, politicians, local businesses, business organisations, press, media, and Alistair Brownlee MBE all contributed to its success through their efforts both publically and behind the scenes.

When added to our previous fundraising this resulted in approximately £70,000 in the bank - this remains the case (our accounts can be viewed online at Companies House). During crowdfunding we also secured pledges from Otley Town Council, Otley BID, Otley Chamber of Trade and private donors some of which are yet to be drawn down.


We are grateful to everyone for their support which has enabled the current work to be undertaken.


Project Review

During crowdfunding we received and accepted several offers of pro-bono work. These not only help to reduce costs but also bring an invaluable wealth of skills, experience and support which the FoOL committee can draw on.

The offers included a local retired sport and leisure consultant with experience in over 50 swimming pool projects plus a local engineer with over 20 years’ experience in the sport and leisure sector. Both have been instrumental in helping us review the project and refine our approach so it better reflects the strengths and challenges of the site and local area plus the rapidly changing sport and leisure market as a result of a range of factors (e.g. Covid-19, energy costs, cost of living crisis, changing trends, large cost increases for construction projects, etc.).

Previous concepts were of considerable scale and scope and utilised new build construction. Options with a reduced scale and scope were ruled out on the basis they were unlikely to be viable. However, our review suggests this was premature. Whilst reviews such as this are time consuming they are part of our due diligence processes to ensure we are spending community funds in the best possible ways.

As a result, the upcoming work shall review the previous concepts in addition to examining options with a reduced scale and scope.

However, the core drivers of the project remain unchanged - bringing the site back into community use and providing a heated swimming pool (and associated infrastructure) supported by facilities that complement the pool, location, and town.


It is envisaged that options with a reduced scale and scope:


  • Increase the feasibility of the project

  • Are not likely to compromise the viability of the project

  • Maximise the possibility to renovate and utilise the existing buildings (subject to surveys and suitability) reducing capital costs, increasing sustainability, reducing timescales, etc.

  • Still deliver the core benefits of bringing the site back into community use plus a swimming facility

  • Respect and reduce the impact of the challenges associated with the site (e.g. size, the culvert running underneath, flooding, parking, traffic, etc.)

  • Reduce potential opposition to the project and simplify planning permission

  • Maximise the site’s inherent pros whilst simultaneously minimising its cons

Our review has convinced us this is a positive change in our approach and we have received positive feedback from a number of stakeholders.

Leeds City Council – Review of the Site

Leeds City Council has been reviewing its portfolio and in September 2023 we were informed of its intention to undertake a review of the lido site. Whilst this news and the timing were frustrating we understood the council’s need to exercise due diligence in respect of a community asset particularly in light of the time that had elapsed and the changing context in the intervening years.


Rather than worry our stakeholders (including our cherished supporters) and in order to minimise any potential damage to our excellent relationship with Leeds City Council we felt it better this process played out in private rather than in the public domain.  Unfortunately, this took longer than both the council and FoOL were anticipating. Please accept our apologies for the lack of updates over the last few months. We hope you can understand the reasons for this!

We are grateful to our ward councillor’s (Cllrs Colin Campbell, Ryk Downes and Sandy Lay) for their assistance and also to Leeds City Council, Otley Town Council, their respective leaders Cllrs James Lewis and Richard Hughes, and elected members for their continued support.


We have worked tirelessly over a number of years to gain support across the political spectrum. In addition to Leeds City and Otley Town councils and councillors, we are also grateful to Alex Sobel MP (Leeds North West), Rachel Reeves MP (Leeds West), Baroness Blake and West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin for their continued support.


With recent local elections and an upcoming general election – which includes boundary changes affecting our constituency and many other local constituencies - please be assured that whatever the outcomes locally and nationally we are an apolitical organisation and shall continue to engage elected officials whatever their political colour in order to gain and maintain their support so we can progress our project and bring benefits for our community.

Commissioning of a Leisure Consultant to Undertake Feasibility Study & Business Planning

Subsequent to the project review, the retired sport and leisure consultant was able to advise us on the next steps and articulate our requirements in an outline brief. The outline brief and accompanying notes were the basis for us to seek proposals in July 2023 for the initial stage of a feasibility study and outline business planning to be undertaken by a sport and leisure consultant with the support of an architect. We received a number of excellent proposals in September 2023 and undertook a thorough review and evaluation of all the proposals received.

However, during the evaluation process Leeds City Council conveyed its intention to undertake the review of the site. Our committee felt the correct approach was to progress as many things as possible in the interim so the project could resume and make immediate progress subject to a positive outcome from the council’s review. However, we did not feel it ethical or prudent to commit significant community funds in light of the uncertainty.

We completed the evaluation process and selected a sport and leisure consultant and architect. We were delighted that our first choice - FMG partnered with Saunders Boston Architects - was understanding of the situation and agreed to be appointed in September 2023 subject to a positive outcome from the council’s review. Both have being very understanding of the situation and this has only reinforced our opinion of their suitability.

FMG & Saunders Boston Architects

We are delighted to announce the appointment of sport and leisure consultancy FMG ( partnered with Saunders Boston Architects ( to undertake an initial feasibility study and outline business planning.

Both companies are highly regarded and experienced in the sport and leisure sector including projects supported by Sport England. Indeed, FMG are a Sport England framework provider. Consultants Darren Lamb and Tim Mills have decades of senior management experience in the sport and leisure sector including working in both the local authority and private sectors. Additionally, both have extensive hands-on operational experience to draw on - so they know what works (and what doesn’t!) in the real world. This is critical to creating a viable and sustainable business.

More information on Darren and Tim can be viewed at

Nathan Swift - Director at Saunders Boston Architects - has gained a particular specialism within the Sport & Leisure sector and shall work alongside Darren and Tim. Nathan shall provide architectural input and produce ‘masterplans’ for the site which maximise functionality whilst respecting its location within both the Conservation Area and Flood Zone 3.

More information on Nathan can be viewed at,nathan-swift_13.htm


Crucially, both companies – plus Darren, Tim and Nathan - have significant experience with pools and lidos. Equally important, they have demonstrated an understanding of the specific challenges faced by community projects and have experience in partnering community groups to deliver pragmatic solutions in consultation with multiple stakeholders.


By appointing highly regarded and recognised names in the sport and leisure sector, FoOL and our stakeholders can be confident the resulting work has been conducted to the relevant industry standards by experienced professionals using the latest insights and data. This is critical to both maximising the impact of the work and in demonstrating our rigorous and credible approach to stakeholders and potential funders.

Initial Feasibility Study & Outline Business Planning

We had a ‘kick off’ meeting with Darren, Tim and Nathan earlier this week and the work shall commence shortly with an expected duration of 12-14 weeks. This includes:

  • Market analysis – identifying and quantifying supply and demand for the potential facilities and activities on the site

  • Stakeholder consultation – understanding the needs and expectations of multiple stakeholders including our community and Wharfemeadows Bowling Club whom shall continue to have its 'home' on the site

These can then inform and support the development of:

  • ‘Masterplan’(s) for the site - conceptual designs for the site including identification of the facilities and layout (‘block sketches’ initially for a cost effective solution)

  • Operational parameters - how the business and site shall function - e.g. governance, management and staffing, daily timetables (e.g. opening hours, types of activities / classes, etc.), pool temperatures, pricing structures, etc.


FMG, Saunders Boston Architects and FoOL envisage a number of ‘masterplans’ - each shall be supported by:


  • Indicative capital cost

  • Outline business plan – financial modelling to produce a 10 year business plan identifying and quantifying income and expenditure plus a 25 year financial projection


It is important to note that whilst FoOL has specified the work to be carried out in the outline brief, FMG shall commence by reviewing our work to date and the desired outcomes of the work to be undertaken. If any ‘gaps’ are identified these shall be addressed by amending the brief. Similarly, FoOL has summarised the results of our project review and our broad aims but FMG shall also consider any and all alternatives in order to maximise the feasibility, viability and benefits of the project.

In regards to the provision of facilities we remain open-minded, flexible and shall be evidence-led. FMG shall investigate the options with a primary focus on a heated pool and identify other facilities to complement this from both operational and financial perspectives. We envisage this shall include consideration of:


  • Pool(s)

  • Supporting infrastructure (e.g. heating and filtration systems, changing, showers, toilets, storage areas, reception, office, etc.)

  • Wet play area

  • Outdoor seating and lounging areas

  • Viewing gallery and/or balcony

  • Sauna and/or spa

  • Café

  • Shop

  • Community room(s) and/or multi-purpose room(s)

  • Gym and/or fitness room and/or studio

  • Restaurant and/or bar

  • Any other facilities that complement the lido, location and town


In addition we are also committed to:

  • Wharfemeadows Bowling Club – delivering a ‘home’ through consultation with the club and Leeds City Council

  • Improving the toilet provision in Wharfemeadows Park


We also hope to benefit from FMG’s and Saunders Boston Architects’ experience in project delivery including consideration of the pros and cons of a one-off (‘big bang’) construction versus phased approaches.


We anticipate Darren, Tim and Nathan shall support but also challenge thinking around the project and bring new ideas. It is worth highlighting that our priority is to maximise the benefits of the project rather than maximise financial returns. However, the business also needs to be viable and financially sustainable for many years to come.


Our aim is to present the results to stakeholders - including the community - later in the year as part of our centenary year celebrations to mark the opening of Otley baths in 1924.

Otley Riverside Visitor Centre -

We have always viewed our project as being a catalyst for, and complementary to, wider regeneration of Otley Riverside and the town. Therefore, for a number of years we have engaged with the Houldsworth family in respect of its proposals for the site of the former Otley Cattle Market (the land adjacent to, and incorporating, the Flood Alleviation Scheme and adjacent to the showground).

FoOL is supportive of the initiative and given the proximity of the two sites and the synergies between the projects we shall continue to engage with the Houldsworth family as both projects progress our respective plans.

Future Steps

Leeds City Council has asked us to present our outline business plan(s) later this year. We hope this shall demonstrate not only our progress but also the feasibility of the project and our ability to deliver, in conjunction with the council and other stakeholders, a viable and sustainable business which benefits the community, council and other stakeholders. Alongside this, we shall undertake consultation with our community and other stakeholders.

Subject to a positive reaction from Leeds City Council and successful stakeholder consultations we shall make any necessary changes and develop one (or more) concepts further. Significant funds shall still be available after completing the current work in order to do this.

The exact approach adopted shall be informed, and evidence-led, by the results of the initial feasibility study and outline business plan(s) plus the results from consultations with stakeholders. The aim shall be to refine the capital costs and business plan(s) further plus highlight and address other factors which shall impact the project. This is likely to include elements such as:


  • Further exploration with Leeds City Council in respect of the site and other matters under its remit

  • Further studies and surveys including:

    • Site investigation works (e.g. structual surveys, ground investigation works, asbestos, etc.)

    • Sustainability

    • Ecological

    • Flood risk

    • Funding

    • Highways and parking

    • Heritage impact assessment

    • Pre-planning

  • Progressing one (or more) ‘masterplans’

    • Further architectural input and drawings

    • Engineering input (e.g. structural, mechanical & electrical, etc.)

    • Improved capital costing (e.g. quantity surveyor)

    • Urban design

    • Landscaping

We shall, of course, continue to provide updates at the appropriate moments.


Heritage Open Days (September 2024) -

This year is the centenary of the opening of Otley baths! To mark the occasion we would like to open the site for a day so our community and visitors can experience the heritage aspects of the lido (or ‘baths’ or ‘outdoor pool’ as it was commonly known!). We feel this is a great opportunity to participate in – and will be best served by the support of - the Heritage Open Days scheme which runs annually in September. We’ll provide an update once we have confirmed our participation.

Tuesday 25th July 2023

FoOL Seeking to Commission a Leisure Consultant

FooL are seeking to commission a suitably qualified leisure consultant to undertake market analysis, advise on operational parameters, sketch concept designs and produce an outline business plan.

Submissions close on 29th August 2023 at 5pm.

Please email for a brief and background information.

Tuesday 13th June 2023

FoOL Newsletter - June 2023

Our latest newsletter is available now and includes:

  • an update on the project

  • an introduction to committee member Francesca Gains

  • fundraising events and update

  • outdoor swimming

  • a focus on sustainability

  • and much more!

Read the full June 2023 newsletter here.

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Sunday 16th October 2022

FoOL Project Update

During our crowdfunding campaign we were contacted by a number of professionals who kindly offered their services on a pro-bono basis. Over the last few months we have been utilising this expertise to review, refine and progress our plans in light of both the excellent ideas and feedback from our community and the changing economic landscape. This has been achieved without incurring any costs. We shall shortly commence deploying the funds raised for ‘Phase 1’ (Specialist Studies) by commissioning a leisure consultant to undertake market analysis and financial modelling. The resulting outline business plan can then be used to inform future decision making. We anticipate commissioning additional specialists to undertake further studies and surveys focussed on site investigation, design, construction and aspects relating to the local community in 2023.

For more details please read on…

Thanks to the amazing support of our community and a number of high profile backers we surpassed our fundraising target of £65,000 for ‘Phase 1’ (Specialist Studies) in late 2021. We vowed to only deploy these funds at a time when we were satisfied with our approach. These funds remain ring fenced for Phase 1 and we are pleased to say we shall commission the first study shortly.

During the crowdfunding campaign we were contacted by a number of professionals offering their services on a pro-bono basis. We have engaged with these specialists and built a network of experts to advise us. One such individual is a Leeds-based retired leisure and planning consultant who is also a keen outdoor swimmer. We jumped at his offer to provide pro-bono advice so we could utilise his extensive experience with over 50 swimming pool projects including the London Aquatics Centre (venue for the 2012 Olympic Games).

Although our aims are not as lofty as an Olympic venue(!), we felt it prudent to review our project before commissioning any studies. We have ensured that the excellent input and feedback from the community, stakeholders and partners that was conveyed during the crowdfunding campaign has been assimilated into our existing thinking. Additionally, we have considered significant new factors such as the dramatically changing economic landscape - including the cost of living and energy price crises – which mean sustainability takes on even greater importance.

We have committed a considerable – but necessary - amount of time to review and refine our plans. This process has required us to question the rationale, clarify and evaluate our decisions but also maintain a flexible approach so we don’t rule anything out prematurely. We have been able to do this without incurring any costs by utilising our network of experts and new committee members whom have contributed fresh perspectives. We are delighted to say we nearly at the end of this process and shall be moving forwards shortly.

The first stage is to commission a leisure consultant to undertake market analysis and financially model some of the options to the industry standard. This shall result in an outline business plan for a minimum of 10 years detailing facilities, operating models, etc. and the associated income and expenditure. This shall ensure the lido is a sustainable venture and help inform our future decision making.

Subsequent to the market analysis and financial modelling we shall review the project again with the aim of commissioning further specialist studies in 2023. These studies and surveys shall focus on site investigations, design and construction methods in order to assess the capital costs and feasibility. The studies shall also examine and consider the impact of the project on local issues such as flood risk, ecology, heritage, traffic, parking, etc. When combined with the financial modelling these studies shall allow us to produce designs for the site - each with a fully costed business plan and evaluation of other relevant factors.

We remain confident in the viability of the project but need to be evidence-led in our decision making and have a robust, sustainable business plan. The approach we are adopting is best practice and shall enable us to maximise the potential of the site and our chances of securing future funding.

Please be assured that the focus of our committee is firmly upon safeguarding the community’s investment and generous good will. The next steps for our project are crucial if we are to avoid any wrong turns or missed opportunities. However, we would also like to reassure you that we understand your wish for timely progress with the venture. With this in mind, we intend to provide further updates at regular intervals as well as exploring opportunities to engage you in further conversations around your expectations for the lido.

We shall continue to attend community events – the next being the Victorian Fayre. Please do visit our stall and share your ideas and feedback which we are always grateful to receive. Our committee members shall also be happy to provide you with the latest update. However, you are most welcome to contact us at any time via email or our social media channels.

The monies raised since the crowdfunding – and any we raise over the coming months - enable us to maintain the integrity of the project by protecting the existing funds and go towards servicing our small on-going costs. Any surplus monies shall be put towards future phases of the project so you can be assured that your generous donations shall continue to benefit the project.

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