Newton Abbot pool specialists, Westcountry Leisure, struck gold at the British Pool & Hot Tub Awards 2017, hosted by BISHTA and SPATA, with this magnificent pool in Devon. Built on the side of the cliff overlooking a bay in the Salcombe estuary, the pool is fully loaded with Certikin and Calorex equipment.

Brief: The client, a keen swimmer, wanted a pool for all year round use with a deep swimming lane plus a shallow end for his children. The large linear pool had to sit within the confines of the area to the back of the house and embrace its mature and natural surroundings – namely, the extensive gardens, the breath-taking sea view and the seagull-nesting cliffs.

Installation: Using a terrace where a large ornamental pond was sited, the pool is an impressive 22m in length to compliment the surrounding architectural features. The 5m wide pool (with 1.5m shallow and 2.2m deep end) required planning permission as it is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the house is Grade II listed. The owners were keen to ensure the project did not have any detrimental impact on the existing building. Westcountry Leisure put together drawings and a specification to satisfy the local authority, who duly granted permission.

Once the pool had been excavated to the required depths, a structural engineer inspected it and, due to failure of the compaction tests, further excavation was required.

MD of Westcountry Leisure, Mark Gilpin says: “Our initial survey was based upon a surface inspection of the site and even though we carried out two trial holes before commencement, the extra works didn’t become apparent until the majority of the dig had been carried out. It was certainly a challenging job and not one for those with a fear of heights! The proximity of the 20m drop over the cliff, just 6m away on one side, and the foundations of the two wings of the historical building within 2m on the other, required extensive shoring and stabilization of the dig.”

Logistics: Access to the site was completely restricted on three sides with only a small, single vehicular access possible between the trees. To improve access, Westcountry removed the existing retaining wall between the upper and lower terrace to enable the shuttered concrete pool to be constructed. The reinforced concrete, stone-faced retaining wall was reinstated on top where the depth of the dig was over 3.5m.

All excavated material was removed from site and a further 300 tons of material then returned to backfill the pool. As the work was carried out mid-winter, Westcountry constructed a temporary scaffold roof to aid the finishing works.

Details: The existing York stone terrace was carefully removed prior to excavation for recycling, to help the pool blend in. The stones, some of which weighed over 500 kg each, were cleaned, sorted, re-cut and re-laid as coping stones, pit lids for the Roldeck automatic cover chamber and cappings for the new stone-faced retaining wall that was flush with the pool wall.

The inside of the pool is lined with slate-lookalike porcelain tiles, 1200 mm x 600 mm, to blend in with the environment as the local planning officer wanted to avoid a bright blue tiled pool.

Result: Owner, Deborah Weinreich says: “We are delighted with the pool and the work of Mark Gilpin and the architect Ed Barker (South West Studio). Bearing in mind it was winter we were fortunate to be blessed with reasonable weather. We were less fortunate with historic pipe work that was discovered and needed to be re-routed. It also took a great deal more digging to find hard surface to build the pool on, so it had to be filled with aggregates before pool construction could start. In all it took 24 weeks to complete but it was well worth it.”

Westcountry’s Mark adds: “It was the most technically challenging project we have undertaken, especially as we had to work with such restricted access. The provision of extensive retaining walls and additional safety to the pool cover all added to the complexity of the job. We are delighted to win a SPATA Gold award and gain valuable industry recognition for our efforts.”