SWIMMERS who fought for the future of an outdoor pool say they are relieved it will not be 'lost forever'.

Abingdon residents remain hopeful that Abbey Meadows Pool can become a key asset for the town after it undergoes a £1.3m transformation.

A lack of activity on the fenced-off site sparked fears that Vale of White Horse District Council's major project to replace the pool had been delayed.

But the council confirmed earlier this week that works on the scheme are set to start in September, and should reopen as planned in time for the 2018 summer season.

Naomi Richardson, who has used the pool for years, said: "It is brilliant news that it is going to be refurbished at last, as it was clear that upgrading the pool was long overdue.

"We can look forward to this remaining a key feature of summers in Abingdon for years to come.

"The pool is a great asset to Abingdon and the community really came together to make sure that it wasn't lost forever."

For a long time the pool was regarded by many as too cold and worse for wear, and campaigners were forced to fight to save the facility from closure in both 2005 and 2015.

Last year the council relented and unveiled plans to replace it, complete with a makeover for the neighbouring play area.

Abingdon resident Mrs Richardson, who has previously highlighted a need for more leisure facilities in the town, hopes the pool would be better-used when it reopens.

She said: "I think you'll see a lot more people who live in Abingdon coming into the town to enjoy the new facilities, rather than having to get in their car for a family day out.

"It will also be a local leisure destination for people around the county for a lovely day next to the river, with walks, a park and the new pool."

Works will be carried out by Vincent Stokes, which specialises in building and refurbishing swimming pools and other leisure facilities.

Contractors will combine the current smaller pool with the main pool and create a beach-style slope to allow easy access to the water.

The pool in Abbey Close opens seasonally but was shut this summer ahead of the project.

Prior to the council's announcement, there had been speculation on social media that the much-coveted improvements might never come to fruition.

Commenting on a public Facebook page, one person wrote: "I am worried that if we don't put some pressure on, the council will find some excuse for not reopening our pool."

Earlier this week, council leader Matthew Barber said he was confident the pool would become a 'must-visit venue'.