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Uccle unveils plans for new outdoor swimming pool

16:40 16/09/2023

Brussels remains one of the only European capitals or major and smaller towns without an outdoor pool, while Berlin for example has at least 10.

The organisation Pool is Cool has come to the rescue with Flow – a small public canal-side pool in Anderlecht – and increasingly popular since it opened in 2021.

But plans to build a bigger, more permanent affair - for example near the Abattoirs in Anderlecht’s Curegem district or in the Bempt district of Forest - are going neither swimmingly nor quickly, mainly because of cost reasons.

Now, the commune of Uccle is coming forward with concrete plans for a new public swimming spot.

Mayor Boris Dilliès wants to fill the gap for Brussels residents via a hectare of unused space by Institut Pasteur (now Sciensano) on the Plateau Anglais, in the very highest part of the commune.

“Many people in this area tell me that a place to cool down would not be a pointless luxury,” Dilliès told La Dernière Heure.

Uccle does have a popular swimming pool – Longchamp. Built in the 1970s, this beautiful aerodynamic building, indeed even aeroplane-shaped, boasts mirror glass walls and a solarium and attracts about 400,000 visitors a year.

Meanwhile, neighbouring commune Forest has no pool at all since its attractive Art Deco pool shut on Rue Berthelot.

Saint-Gilles’ iconically old-style (changing rooms around the pool) Victor le Boin, which shut for renovation on 30 June, is unlikely to reopen before 2027.

“There is a great shortage of these types of facilities,” Dilliès added.

He is talking to the Federal Buildings Agency that owns the proposed site about a lease, so “we would get our hands on the site for a longer period of time”.

The proposal is to create a 30-by-15-metre pool, 1.5 metres deep of natural bathing water - with as little chlorine as possible - filtered by plants.

Welcoming the project, Dilliès’ MR colleague, Brussels secretary of state for digisation Mathieu Michel, said: “it is a way of giving public land back to the people.”

The mayor added that, after an agreement with the Federal Buildings Agency and with permit procedures in place, the plan could come to fruition in as little as two years’ time.

He also made clear that the pool would not be heated. This means that, like the vast majority of outdoor pools including Flow, it would probably shut at the end of September.

Written by Liz Newmark