At its 24 November 2022 meeting, Lane Cove Council discussed the fate of the Jean Mitchell Baths located on Woodford Bay and resolved to seek community consultation about the future of the baths. The Baths are also referred to as the Lucretia Baths.
The Baths are a tidal pool located in Dunois Street Longueville. A report prepared by Lane Cove Council staff notes that the Baths are now showing signs of their age, and a structure rebuild is required.
Lane Cove Council erected safety warning signage on the site in December 2022. Lane Cove Council has noted that the signs were subsequently removed by unknown members of the community, and replacement signs were erected on the site in March 2023.
Lane Cove Council commenced community consultation from 22 December 2022 to 28 February 2023.
Lane Cove locals were asked what Council should do next and what their preferred outcome for the site was from the following two options:
- Complete rebuild of the Baths (cost $600,000)
- Demolition and removal of the Baths structure and the rejuvenation of the foreshore (cost $150,000)
A third option was for the community to specify alternative options to a complete rebuild or demolition and removal.
A total of 301 responses were received. This included 267 responses to LCCf’s survey and 34 separate written submissions. These responses included submissions from the Lane Cove Historical Society and the Longueville Residents Association.
The results were as follows:
Complete rebuild of the Baths
Demolition and removal of Baths structure
Alternative and other options and comments
The preferred approach was to rebuild the baths.
The Lane Cove Council officer’s report notes:
“Along the river foreshore, Council has a number of properties which include structures that are used by the community for water-based activities. Many of the structures were constructed by the community with volunteer labour, without necessarily meeting typical construction standards. Council’s existing asset management regime does not seek to fund to replace these structures. Typically the lessee, a community entity, contributes financially to the replacement of their structures. As the baths are not proposed to be operated by any community group and no other financial assistance is available, Council needs to weigh up the relative merit of renewal of the baths compared to other community needs, to determine the future of the baths.
It is recommended that Council determine the future of the Jean Mitchell Lucretia Baths site in consideration of the results of the public consultation outlined in this report and budgetary considerations.
Depending on the decision, a further report outlining the details of the design for the site will be presented to Council and be the subject of further consultation.”
Will Lane Cove Councillors vote to spend around $600 000 to redevelop the baths or will they decide that other community projects are more important?”
If yes, 2023/2024 Budget Papers do not mention the Jean Mitchell Baths. In the absence of any grant funding, the project may not commence until the 2024/2025 financial year. Read more about the LCC Budget here.
In 2022 and 2023, Lane Cove Council applied for a grant to rebuild the bath pursuant to the NSW Government Places to Swim -2021/22 Grant Program, but they were unsuccessful.
Will the Jean Mitchell Baths go the same way as the Tambourine Bay Reserve baths?
Lane Cove Council took over the lease for the Tambourine Bay Baths from the Maritime Service Board in 199. Reoccurring health, safety and maintenance issues led to the permanent closure of the Tambourine Bay Baths. Late in 2015, Council marked the location of the Tamborine Bay Baths with a plaque to recognise the unique history of the site, along with improvements to the recreation and picnic area. It should be noted that the water quality surveys at Tambourine Bay Reserve does fluctuate and can be categorised as pollution likely.
How Do You Show Your Support?
If you want the Jean Mitchell Baths to be upgraded, then make your voice heard at the Lane Cove Council May 2023 Meeting.
Residents can write to Councillors about this issue. The email address that will reach all Councillors is [email protected].
A Zoom meeting link will be emailed to the provided email address.
A time limit of three (3) minutes per public forum address applies.
If Lane Cove Councillors vote to reinstate the baths the next steps will be>:
- Detailed design
- Consultation report to Council to endorse a detailed design
- A local approval process (if any work is required other than a rebuild of the existing structure).
- Any required TfNSW approval processes and required reports/documentation
- Undertake a tender process to appoint a contractor
- Management of construction project to completion.
The Jean Mitchell Baths have been in existence since the 1920’s. The Baths were originally built by the local residents for use as private baths.
This Baths enclosure is 20 by 25 metre on the western side of Woodford Bay in the lower Lane Cove River. The Baths are standalone, and there are no toilets or showers (and not even a café nearby!!)
The Baths operated under a lease between local residents and the Maritime Services Board (now Transport for NSW – TfNSW) until 1992 when the lease was transferred to Lane Cove Council.
Maintenance and Repairs
The Baths were reconstructed by the community members in 1968 and in 1987 and Lane Cove Council spent $7,500 in 1992. Council also undertook maintenance repairs in 2006.
Lucretia Baths is one of the 3 remaining examples of timber “shark” paling harbourside baths left in Sydney. Read the Heritage Listing here.
In 1994 the baths were heritage listed, along with Greenwich and the Tambourine Bay Baths.
Swimming and Water Quality
In 2017 an article about Lucretia Baths on the Ocean Pools NSW website by Simon Duffin mentioned:
“I did manage to cut myself a few times swinging onto the metal stairs at the deep end, and although any shark would have had to be pretty hungry and pretty slim to get through the gap left by the one missing plank of wood in the fence, it did make me cut short my swim, as it was stinging even in the water.”
Each year the NSW Government releases a water quality report which monitors the water quality of 228 NSW swimming sites. You can read more about this report here.
The 2021/2022 Water Quality Report noted that Sydney’s Northern ocean beaches Manly to Palm Beach were rated good or very good.
The Water Quality Report also looks at harbourside beaches. In the 2021/2022 report, Greenwich Baths, and Woodford Bay were rated as good. Tambourine Bay was rated poor (it was rated poor last year).
An extract from the 2018 Water Quality Report Noted:
An extract from the 2015 Water Quality Report Noted:
The Three Options – Community Consultation
There are three options:
- Rebuild the Jean Mitchell Lucretia Baths structure – (cost $600,000). (Boats are not allowed to be tied to the current or a new structure. This is a condition of the lease with Transport for NSW)
- Demolition and removal of the Baths structure and rejuvenation of the foreshore – (cost $150,000)
- Alternative option suggested by the community
(All options and suggestions are subject to relevant planning approvals.)
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