Withdraw planning application 2014-2399 (£23m Pool & Track rebuild) and consult with all LOCAL user groups about the design specification.
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Waltham Forest council and their management partner Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) are rebuilding the 48 year old Walthamstow Pool & Track sport and leisure facility. The project will cost an estimated £23m. It must provide core sport, sustainable leisure features and a fully accessible replacement for the pre-existing disability training pool to benefit current and future generations of Waltham Forest residents over the next 50 years. We can find no evidence that local users have been consulted about their needs.
The old disability / training pool was state of the art in 1966 and was still so in 2014 (bottom right main photo). It had a gently inclined access/dignity ramp that allowed people with certain disabilities to get in either unaided or with greater comfort than when lowered in by a hoist. Older users who just needed easier access to the water had the option of a wide shallow flight of steps with support rails. Parents & Carers carrying babies and toddlers often congregated on the stairs to chat and also for ease of access into this pool. The new pool will have a single lift and a narrower flight of steps. The omission of the dignity ramp and the wide stair case, represents a reduction in the possible use for the community, that existed in the old pool design. There should be more varied solutions for differently abled people to enter the pool than GLL are offering. Prior consultation with real users would have identified these issues at the initial design stage.
Schools across Waltham Forest used the the old Pool and Track for swimming lessons and inter schools track athletics competition. We are unaware of any formal consultations with these key community stakeholders either. We want to ensure that the new site positions the Pool and Track centre as a cutting edge facility for inter-county schooling events to be held in the future and that means not only maintaining facilities for the school but ideally adding to them.
The 5 metre highboard diving platform (regularly used by people aged 5 to 85) with its dedicated deep water pool is not being replaced. It is very popular with Waltham Forest's kids and teens especially who use it during open public sessions in large numbers - see top right photo taken at 7:30pm in January 2014. The local children's diving club used it for 34 years and senior Masters divers travelled to use it due to the quality of the facility (middle bottom photo). Olympic and Commonwealth Games multi-medallist between 2000 & 2012 Pete Waterfield started off his career at this facility as a child. He has publicly opposed these plans in this Waltham Forest Guardian interview . Scuba divers also train in this deep water facility. Waltham Forest Lesiure Services are on record as saying this facility is NOT used much, perhaps they haven't seen the photos below?!
The high board diving club, scuba divers and supporting local residents managed to get the plan rejected at Planning Committee stage on 2nd Sept 2014 - see Waltham Forest Guardian report . GLL and the council do not seem to have taken the rejection seriously as they seem to be submitting the same plan to the Planning Committee on 3rd February 2015.
We have also seen in the local media lately that London & Quadrant are no longer investing the money that they had specified on their bid, into the Dog Track Redevelopment, that they will now be investing that same amount into the Pool & Track. No where in the Planning documents is this amount mentioned. We appreciate that a project such as this has financial restrictions, and needs to be income generating, but not at the expense of our community resources. If this money has been allotted, the plans need to be amended for the sake of transparency.
We are calling upon GLL and Waltham Forest Council to withdraw their plan (ref 2014-2399) and run a meaningful consultation with ALL local stakeholders about their needs, before any further demolition of the existing site occurs.
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