The Lib Dems in Kingston are strongly committed to rebuilding the Kingfisher Centre.
Four years ago, the Tory-run council was told the building was at the ‘end of its life’. Nothing was done. There was also no sign of the extra swimming pool they had promised at the election.
At the end of 2019, the centre had to close, and the roof was found to be structurally unsound.
It was clear that it was not safe for families to use, and it would cost over £5million to patch up the old building. Tory inaction meant we were left with just one public swimming pool in Kingston.
This is why the Lib Dems have committed to building a new, state-of-the-art centre. The new centre is due to open by 2024 — the plans have now been submitted, and will go before planning committee after the Local Election.
Here are six things you need to know about the new leisure and community centre:
The new centre is an investment in a healthy Kingston
Yes, it is true that the current pool will be demolished. This is because the existing building is unsafe for anyone to use. The current pool will be replaced with a new leisure and community centre that meets the needs of Kingston’s residents. This project is ambitious but it will bring huge public health and social benefits. We believe that’s worth investing in.
The new centre is being developed based on what local people want
The council has spoken with more than 7,000 local residents, including over 340 children, to ensure that the site is used as local people think is best. Around 80% of people say the early proposals we’ve put forward have the right mix of facilities.
The new centre won’t just have two top-notch pools
The current plans include two 2 state-of-the-art pools: this will mean Kingston has an 8-lane competition-standard pool and a teaching pool. We are also planning a splash deck for children to play in the water, a soft play area, clip and climb, a sports hall, a gym, dance studios, space for spin classes and children’s parties and facilities for 5-a-side football on the roof.
The new centre will be accessible for all residents
The new centre is being built in a way that ensures local people with mobility issues can enjoy more of the facilities than at the Kingfisher Centre. For example, we are going to ensure there are pool pads, a floating pool floor and step-free access to ensure it is disabled-friendly.
Work will start this summer
The first step in building a new leisure centre is to knock down the old one. This demolition will start this summer. We’ve decided to do this early because buildings can be delayed if the demolition throws up something unexpected like archaeological finds or contaminated land. We don’t want people to wait any longer than needed for a new pool. By knocking the old centre down early, we will be ready once the architectural plans for the site have been approved.
The new centre will be kind to the planet
The new building will be cutting edge in terms of sustainability, targeting ‘BREEAM Excellent’, the industry standard. We aim to power it with energy from the Hogsmill sewage treatment process as part of Kingston's ‘poo power’ scheme with Thames Water.