A SOUTHAMPTON swimming pool is to undergo a £150,000 makeover, the biggest refurbishment since it was saved from permanent closure five years ago.

Oaklands Community Pool is to close for the month of December for a complete overhaul of its dated changing facilities, which have not been improved since the pool first opened back in 1986.

It will reopen in January with one unisex inclusive changing facility, just in time to celebrate its fifth birthday since becoming an independent charity.

The closure-threatened facility sparked a huge community campaign and a political rebellion. Two and a half years after it was announced that the pool could close due to budget cuts and a lot of community campaigning and political wrangling, the keys were handed over to the community group that have operated it since January 2015.

At the time, £1.7 million was spent on a facelift, mainly for the plant room, which houses all the equipment to control the 25 metre main pool and the learner pool.

Funding for the latest refurbishment has been raised through pool entry fees and fundraisers including cake sales and sponsored swims.

The smart wood effect changing room will be installed by New Milton based Cubicle Systems and will include improved accessible and baby changing facilities, as well as private showers and better toilets. It will be lit by low energy LED lights.

Pool bosses hope the new set up will work better for families, professionals, schools and classes like their own aqua fit sessions, which attract substantially more women than men.

Chief executive Dan Lally told the Daily Echo: “I’m feeling really positive about getting to this stage. It’s a significant investment that we are making, pretty much all the money that we’ve got. We think it’s a great way to celebrate our fifth year of independence from the council.

“I’m so proud of this and will be even more proud of it when it comes to fruition. It’s important as a charity that we reinvest and show users what we are doing with the money they’ve helped us raise. We think this will work much better for everyone and offer lots more opportunities for enjoying the pool.”

Some casual staff have had to be laid off for the month.

Swimming lessons and memberships already paid for will be carried over into the new year.

Following the changing room refurbishment, the next project will be an overhaul of the pool’s reception area.