|Posted on Monday, 27 March, 2006 - 05:28 pm: |
Press release from the Lewisham Council web site:
"Lewisham Council is closing Forest Hill Pools with immediate effect following urgent health and safety advice.'
"Individual users can continue to use other Lewisham leisure facilities."
"Alternative arrangements are being discussed with school and club users on an individual basis."
"Regular health and safety assessments of the Forest Hill Pools are made because of their age. Concerns were raised over structural safety during a recent inspection."
"A surveyor was called in to assess the state of the roof over the main pool. The surveyor has unequivocally recommended the immediate closure of the pools. A copy of the surveyor's report will be made available to interested parties."
"Detailed investigations of the building will now be undertaken to establish the extent of the problems with the roof. The pools will not now be able to be re-opened until their full refurbishment. It remains the policy of the Council to maintain swimming at this site. "
|Posted on Monday, 27 March, 2006 - 05:30 pm: |
Well, who can really be surprised? Forest Hill Pools have finally been run into the ground by Labour and have had to be shut on health and safety grounds.
|Posted on Monday, 27 March, 2006 - 05:34 pm: |
Surprise sur-****ing-prise. How convenient. Cynical, me?
Who'd care to open a book on the pools not re-opening?
|Posted on Monday, 27 March, 2006 - 05:34 pm: |
This is worryingly similar to what happened at Downham Pools in 1996. People in Downham are still waiting for their new pool - which will probably open in 2007, although Mr Bullock's manifesto for the 2002 mayoral elections promised it would be open in 2004.
|Posted on Monday, 27 March, 2006 - 05:39 pm: |
Seem to remember Ladywell closing for a good while too.
I am afraid I tend to have a natural suspicion of Labour council's motives as regards the provision of facilities in less deprived areas as the politics of petty low-level class war towards the middle classes are far from dead amongst certain of the comrades.
|Posted on Monday, 27 March, 2006 - 05:41 pm: |
You would have thought that after that event a decade ago, Labour would have woken up and realised that the older buildings in their supposed stewardship actually required looking after.
They left Forest Hill to rot for another decade, and despite being elected Mayor four years ago, Mr Bullock seems to have shown no interest at all in Forest Hill Pools until after last years' by-election.
|Posted on Monday, 27 March, 2006 - 05:45 pm: |
Ho-hum, and just got my latest bill for Mismanagement R Us, Catford Broadway. More outstanding value for the people of FH eh.
I trust all our councillors of whatever political hue will be asking some tough questions, unless of course they're in on it.
|Posted on Monday, 27 March, 2006 - 05:49 pm: |
I certainly will.
Cllr Philip Peake
As an election candidate now, I should include the following legal imprint:
Published and promoted by Philip Peake on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, 99 Bradgate Road, SE6 4TR. Printed by Pipex, 1 Triangle Business Park, Stoke Mandeville, Bucks HP22 5BL.
|Posted on Monday, 27 March, 2006 - 09:00 pm: |
I'm really upset about this. Mainly because as discussed earlier, the pools have been allowed to fester in a state of SHAMEFUL neglect for so long that no wonder they're now deemed unsafe.
They have indeed been run into the ground.
Well local elections are coming up soon....
|Posted on Monday, 27 March, 2006 - 09:05 pm: |
I've just phoned FH pools to check this and the person I spoke to wasn't aware they are shutting with immediate effect!
Can we get this confirmed asap?
|Posted on Monday, 27 March, 2006 - 09:08 pm: |
The neglect is really quite surprising set against the amazing and dynamic regeneration of Forest Hill they have overseen! Bellenden Road, Schmellenden Road! Watch and learn Southwark! (Not).
New motto competition for Lewisham: I'll go first - "Neglecting YOUR Community!"
|Posted on Monday, 27 March, 2006 - 09:11 pm: |
Actually, how about a move to get the boundaries redrawn and secede to Southwark? We are a good net council tax paying area, they might welcome it... and it's less to pay there.
The Forest Hill Popular Front starts here. We will be removing the paraphernalia of the regime in your area soon!
|Posted on Monday, 27 March, 2006 - 11:27 pm: |
I think our Lewisham Labour councillors owe us a bit of an explanation- don't you? This is a joke. Hardly a surprise that this building is in a bit of a state.
|Posted on Monday, 27 March, 2006 - 11:29 pm: |
PS- Just another empty run down empty building in Forest Hill- who will notice one more.....
|Posted on Tuesday, 28 March, 2006 - 08:25 am: |
When they replaced the roof in Forest Hill Pools, around twenty years ago, they were able to close one pool at a time while fixing the roof on the other pool. Given that the two pools have independent roofs it seems unlikely that both have developed faults at exactly the same time. The complete closure of the pools 'until their full refurbishment' is a little extreme, or at least unimaginative.
Does anybody else think that there is some hidden agenda with this happening so soon after the council failed to decide on refurbish or rebuild? Possibly because the conclusion of the consultation and all other advice was to refurbish, but this goes against the council's intention to knock the place down.
|Posted on Tuesday, 28 March, 2006 - 08:32 am: |
This just smells too much like a cover up.
Lets see what reactions we get from our ruling councillors - elections only a short while away. Will have to dig out the huge amounts of rubbish they put through the door last time and see how much of it wasn't actually done.
|Posted on Tuesday, 28 March, 2006 - 10:09 am: |
At the 1st public meeting it was made clear by the consultant that money was tight and after refurbishment the roof could collapse the next day.
Was that an indication the money wasn't there to
carry out full repairs to the roof? If the work now required on the roof is an additional cost will it scupper the refurbishment plans?
If Ladywell Leisure Centre were kept open, the extension at Wavelengths could be avoided. Thus releasing upto £8M for Forest Hill instead of £4M.
Also it would not delay the provision of a new school.
|Posted on Wednesday, 29 March, 2006 - 04:53 pm: |
Does anyone know why the Forest Hill pool repairs were discussed in secret last week by Mayor & Cabinet?
|Posted on Wednesday, 29 March, 2006 - 05:33 pm: |
Yesterday I called the Council to know about the item on Forest Hill Pools that is missing from the online agenda and was told that it was missing because it had been dropped from the agenda.
Then today I spoke with somebody else that made the same enquiry and was told it was on the yellow papers.
A bit of a mystery.
|Posted on Wednesday, 29 March, 2006 - 08:30 pm: |
The plot thickens. All sounds very very dodgy. Who's keeping the book on a story in the "Rotten Boroughs" column in Private Eye?
|Posted on Wednesday, 29 March, 2006 - 09:09 pm: |
The following is from the minutes dated 28th March of the 22nd March meeting.
1. DECLARATIONS OF INTERESTS
Councillor Whiting declared an interest in Item 103 and withdrew from the meeting during consideration of that item.
2. EXCLUSION OF THE PRESS AND PUBLIC
103 Forest Hill Pools Repairs.
|Posted on Wednesday, 29 March, 2006 - 09:43 pm: |
The reason they were discussing it in private is either that they already had the report from the surveyors and were deciding if they could ignore it, or they decided to send in a surveyor so they could close down the pool.
Personally I think the surveyor's report should be made public. How bad is the problem with the 'roof over the main pool' and is it grounds for closing both pools?
|Posted on Wednesday, 29 March, 2006 - 11:39 pm: |
As my name is being taken in vain, I think I should clarify the issue about my prejudicial interest in the pools.
It is simply that I live almost next door to it. The argument is that I might therefore not approach matters with an open mind. This position will probably soon change as even the Standard Board for England have realised that the current regulations risk making it impossible to represent the ward you live in! There are therefore proposals before the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to change the rules. If the regulations don't change soon I will anyway be mounting a personal challenge to this bizarre situation. I am a representative, not a trustee. Some of you may have voted for me last time (and, I hope, will again this May), not because I have an open mind (which I do have usually), but because you hope I will represent your interests effectively.
As I understand it, the reason the Pools discussion was taken in confidence was that there were issues related to the council's contract with Parkwood, who manage the Pools on our behalf, which were commercially confidential. My view in general terms is that on an issue of this sort, there should usually be two reports, one covering the public impact issues, and a separate report covering any validly confidential contractual matters.
I also think that as much of the background information as possible should be made public. I know that officers are briefing local groups in detail, and I absolutely agree that the basis of the judgement to close the pools is a completely legitimate subject of public interest.
I hope, however, that people will not jump to a conclusion that there is a cynical manoeuvre afoot. The structural engineer has concluded that the roof is not safe. Under those circumstances, it just isn't possible to keep the pools open. Frankly, I would rather be accused of cynical manoeuvring than put fellow citizens at risk of serious injury.
Incidentally, I understand that work on assessing what is involved in refurbishment will be brought forward. The decision on refurbishment was taken in the full knowledge that substantial work would soon be required and this short term difficulty will not affect the long term future of the pools as an important community resource for all of us in Forest Hill.
|Posted on Thursday, 30 March, 2006 - 06:51 am: |
Maybe I am naive, but why should any details of a contract let to a private company by a public body like the Council be secret? This is public money being spent on your behalf to provide a public service. It's not a secret. Hiding behind the cloak of 'commercial confidentiality' is increasingly an excuse by Government in all its forms to conceal the truth.
|Posted on Thursday, 30 March, 2006 - 08:36 am: |
|Posted on Thursday, 30 March, 2006 - 08:48 am: |
There are several reasons for these rules, which apply nationally and are covered by EU regulation as well. One is that information is often commercially sensitive - for example, it might be of interest to a company's competitors, and therefore disclosure of prices, and methodology might be damaging to the company. This would potentially affect companies' willingness to bit for public sector work.
Other problems would be that it would probably lead to more price fixing. Under national and EU competition law - companies may not exchange information on pricing policy with a view to forming a price fixing cartel. Publicising all aspects of public contracts would have the same effect on companies' ability to align prices with one another. The end result would almost certainly be less keen bidding and higher prices.
Having said that, I'm far from sure that the line of confidentiality has been drawn in the right place, and again, I think there is a legitimate public debate to be had on just what should and should not remain secret.
|Posted on Thursday, 30 March, 2006 - 10:04 am: |
Cllr. Whiting from previous messages it seems the council is confused as to whether the Forest Hills Repairs were discussed last week. Your name was not being taken in vain but to confirm the Pool Repairs had been discussed.
It is not clear if the report discussed at the Cabinet meeting related to both pools or just the activity pool.
South London Press (28 March) reports the Mayor decided only the activity pool would close and the Main pool would remain open.
Mecurcy (29 March) reports both pools have been closed following a recent inspection and a structural survey last week.
News Shopper (29 March) reports both pools have been closed after an inspection in February.
If Parkwood are compensated for loss of earnings does the council have methods to ensure the staff will have their full share of any compensation?
|Posted on Monday, 03 April, 2006 - 09:13 pm: |
Might I suggest that Steve Bullock's job is on the line over this debacle? I work in the structural integrity business and safety closures like this should not happen. It's a sign of slack management and under investment. Both unforgiveable.
(You might tell I am very unhappy about this - I have asked the conservative candidate to comment on the other thread).
|Posted on Monday, 03 April, 2006 - 09:59 pm: |
I'm so fed up. I used FH pools at least 3 times a week and finding a suitable alternative I can get to after work is proving difficult. Presumably if the roof was allowed to get into a dangerous state in the first place we should have a full explanation from the council about why it was woefully underfunded for so long. No public building in regular use should have been allowed to deteriorate to this degree. I don't think the toilets ever flushed properly - how difficult would it have been to at least maintain them over the last few years?
I carried on using the pools in spite of the terrible state of neglect because I wanted to show my support for them.
|Posted on Monday, 03 April, 2006 - 10:35 pm: |
The contract that the pools were put under for the last 5 years did not allow for investment or even it would seem proper maintenance to keep them in good condition. It was just a "management contract", i.e. not much more than staffing it and keeping the pumps on. The pools have been allowed to deteriorate, more or less deliberately. I wonder why that could be; surely not because it would suit the council to be able to close the pools and put their resources into Deptford? Scandalous mismanagement for which heads should roll!
|Posted on Tuesday, 04 April, 2006 - 02:31 am: |
The closure of Forest Hill Pools was one of the arguments discussed at the mayoral husting held on Saturday at Ladywell Pool.
The husting was recorded and you can listen to it from this link:
|Posted on Sunday, 09 April, 2006 - 11:14 pm: |
I don't want this thread to slip further down the list. Things have gone very quiet and I'm wondering when we'll get any information from the council soon about what they intend to do about FH pools. I'm furious we've lost two swimming facilities in a short space of time.
Could someone tell me the quickest way to the Bridge Leisure Centre on public transport?
|Posted on Monday, 10 April, 2006 - 09:17 am: |
I have been a regular user of Forest Hill Pools for many years and find it shocking that the facility was allowed to decline to the point where it is deemed structurally unsafe. I would never say that it is a set up, but given the council's obvious preference from the literature circulated at the time of the review it does smell a little fishy that it has come to this. Haste in resolving this is necessary and I think would go along way to reassuring the happy local swimmers.
Anyhow, in an effort to not slip into bad habits, I went to the Bridge this weekend. It's a proper sports centre with good facilities (squash courts, sports hall, street dancing lessons, cafe, steam rooms). It is only a couple of hundred metres past the far side of the Sainsbury's savacentre and is clearly signposted from the road that runs between Perry Hill, and Sydenham. There's a bus from Forest Hill centre to the Savacentre (385 I think), with a short walk after that. Plus do your weekly shop at the same time.
A note though - it also has a rather strange shower set up! There are changing cubicles (eloquently labled a 'changing village' or some such nonsense)on one side of the pool, but the showers are on the other, and not many people seemed to use them. How difficult can have access from changing bit to cleany bit?
The main pool is similar size to Forest Hill's whilst being far deeper for most of it. The second pool is a kiddies / families only, making the main pool more free for up and down swimming, but I did go fairly early on a Sunday morning so later on in the day may be a different story. Damn those pesky kids.
Oh yeah, it's also a lot more expensive. £4 odd as opposed to £2 odd. But you do get the money for the locker back in the changing extravagaza ikea ski lodge.
So, acceptable. more importantly, FH pools could be an asset to the area with a little investment and intent. Please council, time is very much of the essence.
|Posted on Monday, 10 April, 2006 - 10:19 am: |
£4 for a swim! Wow.
Maybe if the Bridge had a more accessible pricing policy it would be near impossible to swim there as it has a 3 lanes 25 metres pool.
It's a nice pool as it is the only one that the Council impoved and upheld.
In some Council literature it is even mentioned as "flagship" centre in spite of its ridiculously small size for a public pool.
It's exactly the kind of centre that the Council would like to have, small pool with large gym and big price - unaffordable for many, unable to accomodate the majority that gets priced out or deterred by the lack of space but enough to be able to say that they provide something and get from time to time some photo with children into the press.
Let's remember that when the Council aquired the centre as planning gain from BP it started arguing that Forest Hill Pools was surplus to requirement.
In '99 the Council's strategy moved on and decided that Forest Hill could survive but had to be 'packaged' as single pool with gym.
A similar scheme is what started the attack to Ladywell.
|Posted on Monday, 10 April, 2006 - 10:54 pm: |
I used the Arches pool in Greenwich yesterday, that's a more reasonable £3 but awkward to get to unless you have a car.
|Posted on Tuesday, 11 April, 2006 - 12:40 am: |
PvP thanks for the info on The Bridge.
|Posted on Tuesday, 11 April, 2006 - 01:40 pm: |
What a sad day the pool closed
I remember learning to swim in mid fifties there. The lady who taught me had extremely ugly legs . She did not pamper people she just said you could swim and pushed you in.
|Posted on Tuesday, 11 April, 2006 - 05:35 pm: |
|Posted on Wednesday, 12 April, 2006 - 09:05 am: |
Yes, I remember her well - those were the days when the word cellulite wasn't in common usage!
|Posted on Wednesday, 12 April, 2006 - 11:02 am: |
I've just read the Surveyor's report of March that closed the pools.
On page 10 it refers to the first survey in July 2004 this is followed by a table described as, "works recommended at the time of the first survey that have not been undertaken to date."
Does that mean nothing was done or I have misunderstood the report?
I've looked at Cabinet meetings and so far haven't found any reference to the July 2004 survey.
|Posted on Wednesday, 12 April, 2006 - 11:44 am: |
You are correct. They have (deliberately?) done no work over the past 5 years, despite being well aware that it would be required.
|Posted on Wednesday, 12 April, 2006 - 01:14 pm: |
If correct this is outrageous and the Mayor or
Labour Party Councillors should give explanantions.
Having said that I believe swimming pools are very expensive to operate. Children if well behaved should ger subsidised rates but I think adults should pay the commercial rate.
|Posted on Wednesday, 12 April, 2006 - 01:19 pm: |
That's not really how things work Brian. Otherwise I would not be paying a 41% marginal rate of tax and would instead be leaving a £5 note taped to my dustbin every week.
|Posted on Wednesday, 12 April, 2006 - 01:25 pm: |
The roof of the pool was apparently 'fixed' in 1998-1999, see article from the time http://www.thisislocallondon.co.uk/archive/display .var.79180.0.pool_closed_until_1999.php
If I got repairs done to the roof on my house I would expect them to last a lot longer than six years before the roof would become dangerously unsafe.
The surveyors report appears to be located at http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/NewsAndEvents/News/Stru cturalAppraisalOfMainRoofTrussDecay.htm
I don't understand how it was left to get into such a state.
|Posted on Wednesday, 12 April, 2006 - 02:47 pm: |
How? More like, why? Couldn't be because it would suit the council to close the pool could it?
Choice of two reasons and two reasons only:
-deliberate neglect, with agenda
I tend to suspect the second.
|Posted on Wednesday, 12 April, 2006 - 05:39 pm: |
This sad tale is covered in the issue of "Private Eye" (Nooks and Corners) published today. It's worth a read.
|Posted on Wednesday, 12 April, 2006 - 08:28 pm: |
Was certainly a good candidate for that column - and also "Rotten Boroughs".
|Posted on Wednesday, 12 April, 2006 - 08:32 pm: |
Was certainly a good candidate for that column - and also "Rotten Boroughs". Forest Hill Pools RIP. A victim of inept local governance by stupid people who don't deserve a job, neglect, and spiteful petty class war by a bunch of has-been comrades who wished they'd been at Lambeth back in the "good old days". May as well forget now about them ever opening again.
|Posted on Wednesday, 12 April, 2006 - 09:05 pm: |
I agree with Hilltop's assessment. Unless the council can prove otherwise with full documentation to back up their argument, I'll have no choice but to believe this is a case of 'stategic' neglect.
We should should continue to demand a full explanation.
|Posted on Thursday, 13 April, 2006 - 12:13 pm: |
Could someone put the Private Eye Article on the site.
Surely the building is listed and they are still going to have to pay to finance it
|Posted on Thursday, 13 April, 2006 - 12:29 pm: |
No decision on the listing yet. Pending with English Heritage
|Posted on Tuesday, 18 April, 2006 - 04:31 pm: |
Is it correct to believe listing a building will save it from neglect.
Considering the original pools at Ladywell are locally listed which would indicate the council think they are worth preserving, they have been left to rot for years.
|Posted on Monday, 24 April, 2006 - 09:38 pm: |
Just got my election bumph through the post. Studied each mayoral candidate's pitch to see which one actually mentions Forest Hill pools. Take a look...
|Posted on Monday, 24 April, 2006 - 10:49 pm: |
B"u"llock hasn't had the temerity to send me anything yet. Well, let's face it, he's going to look like a bit of a goon if he trumpets on about "saving" FH pool now... either he's hiding away in shame as he should, realises he's getting no vote from me and would be wasting his time, or is getting the last load of leaflets about "saving" the pool pulped and is awaiting new ones where all this has been airbrushed out, soviet history-style.
|Posted on Monday, 24 April, 2006 - 11:37 pm: |
Tonight the Mayoral system in Lewisham was featured on 'The World Tonight' BBC Radio 4. It can be listened too again at www.bbc.co.uk it starts about 19mins into the program.
|Posted on Tuesday, 25 April, 2006 - 01:46 am: |
This is what Steve Bullock actually says in his election address: "New swimming pools will be completed in Downham, Deptford and Lewisham Town Centre and Forest Hill Pools will be refurbished"
Of the candidates that mentioned swimming provision at all, this is what was said:
Chris Maines; Lib Dem.
"Stop the swimming crisis - save Ladywell Pool, finish Downham and make Forest Hill Pool safe for all swimmers"
Mike Keogh, Green Party:
He says he is a supporter of the Save Ladywell Pool Campaign, but NO mention of FH pool.
John Hamilton, Independent Candidate:
"...to cap it all Forest Hill Pools have suddenly been closed following council neglect. I will improve Ladywell Pool... etc (but no mention of FH).
|Posted on Tuesday, 25 April, 2006 - 09:13 am: |
As Mayor, Steve Bullock decided to investigate further the possiblity of refurbishment if the costs are less than £4.7M.
As a candidate he says Forest Hill Pools will be refurbished.
Could it be his position as Mayor has given him access to information the other candidates do not have, ie results of the 'intrusive survey'? If not, is he now committing himself to refurbishment of the pools no matter what the cost?
Maybe Cllr. Whiting or Cllr. Wise could clarify.
|Posted on Tuesday, 25 April, 2006 - 01:09 pm: |
The Private Eye article can be found at http://www.londonpoolscampaign.com/newsItems/depar tments/londonBoroughOfLewisham
|Posted on Tuesday, 25 April, 2006 - 01:31 pm: |
Excellent coverage on Radio 4 News @ 10 yesterday too. I believe the electorate needs to make it clear this sort of neglect is unacceptable.
|Posted on Wednesday, 20 December, 2006 - 11:40 am: |
A summary of the intrusive survey can be found on Lewisham Council's website. The conclusion is refurbishment can take place but the investment needed would be significant and it may be more cost effective to build a new facility.
http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/LeisureAndCulture/Sport AndLeisure/NewDevelopments/ForestHillPools/Intrusi veSurveyFindings.htm
Keely Sherbird of The Mercury reports the estimated cost of refurbishment has risen to £5.05M and the rebuild estimate has risen to £5.1M.
|Posted on Wednesday, 20 December, 2006 - 12:36 pm: |
So a rebuild is highly likely, then.
|Posted on Wednesday, 20 December, 2006 - 01:22 pm: |
Highly likely, yes. Highly desirable, no.
If the cost is the same, and the facilities at the rebuilt pool would not be much better/different, why not keep the building? As has been pointed out in another thread, there are few enough buildings in this area that really give us a sense of our history, so why lose one of the better ones?
I am all for modernising, and if I thought that a new building would be MUCH better, would be well designed (and not another budget, glass fronted, concrete eye-sore) then I might support it.
Unfortunately I am not convinced there is the money, time, desire, or room for this.
This report states that so much of the key elements of the building are retainable, even if they need work. I see no logical reason, therefore, not to refurbish and give FH back its pool.
|Posted on Wednesday, 20 December, 2006 - 03:06 pm: |
Could they save the facia and build a new complex behind? I know that part of the reason is to save the original pool (oldest surviving in London, fittings etc). Could this be a satisfactory compromise?
|Posted on Wednesday, 20 December, 2006 - 03:36 pm: |
A local conservation architect's initial reaction to the suggestion of a rebuild is that "it cannot possibly be cheaper to demolish the existing facility and build a new one afresh to the same standard. The new-build construction costs alone for a properly appointed swimming pool will be in the region £2,500 - £3,000 per square metre.
By properly appointed, I am referring to a pool facility which is fully enclosed against the elements, has year-round temperature control of both internal air and the water in the pool, has proper showering, changing and toilet facilities, is secure against anti-social or criminal behaviour, has adequate reception and ticketing capacity and, finally, is provided with decent accommodation for the necessary staff complement.
This would not include the cost of demolition of the existing facility, which could not be less than £0.5M. By the phrase, 'cost-effective' the authors of the report are leading to a solution which will remove the existing generous and architecturally imposing facility and substitute a much smaller, reach-me-down, single pool in a crinkly tin shed."
|Posted on Friday, 22 December, 2006 - 06:54 am: |
There is still the issue of disabled access. Can this be satisfactorily met by retention or still compromised?
Unlike most of the posters here I do not see any merit in retention. The building is ugly and had no architectural merit whatsoever. Do we want to retain an antique or build a new modern fit for purpose facility? I argue for the latter as a local resident and a taxpayer, and keen swimmer.
The biggest argument against seems to be fear of how the Council will design procure and deliver the facility. Surely with all the public interest and pressure there are enough eyes on this to prevent disastrous design? I haven't seen any plans so can;t commment on the tin shed, however Beckenham pool is effectively a ' tin shed' and was voted the best pool in Britain.
As a taxpayer I am not convinced that refurbishment is the best use of public money. There is also the question of running costs - the new building would be more energy efficient and cheaper to run. The Council therefore would be irresponsible not to take this opportunity.
Unfortunately its also my view that the presence of the pools has raised peoples expectations of local facilities. Pools are very expensive on both the capital and revenue front and personally I think it is unrealistic to continue to expect high class facilities on the doorstep, particularly in what is still a fairly deprived inner London borough with so many other pressing priorities.
We have Ladywell pools, the Bridge,Crystal Palace, Brockwell Park Lido, Dulwich baths- all a short bus ride away.There are some private clubs nearby ie Kirkdale, JAGS, even Dulwich College where those in work even on modest incomes can swim in relative luxury still at relatively low cost. Personally I think we're spoiled for choice......
|Posted on Friday, 22 December, 2006 - 09:43 am: |
Roz, what are you talking about? Have you've been sent by the coucil to poo poo any investment into this 'fairly deprived inner London Borough' to use your patronising phrase. Isn't that the reason why we should be fighting harder still for what we deserve. If you want to bring FH down with your rants, then I suggest you you create your own sight! You should never settle for mediocrity.
|Posted on Friday, 22 December, 2006 - 01:20 pm: |
Haylands assumes that Roz is in someway settling for mediocrity in preferring a modern building able to offer a range of services appropriate to people living in Forest Hill to refurbishment of a Victorian double pool building which was designed for an age when people had very different expectations, and less choice of leisure and fitness activity.
That parts of Lewisham are still very deprived (and this includes large parts of Sydenham and Forest Hill) is true, and I'm unclear why this observation is considered 'patronising'. It is, however, worth stating that the borough is a lot less deprived than it was due to a lot of successful public investment over the last decade, and is likely to continue to improve.
I'm not sure either that Pat's emotive description of the two options is going to help stimulate a serious and positive local debate about what facilities we need for Forest Hill now. It would be interesting to do some market research in Beckenham to find how many people living there regret the loss of the old Victorian buildings on the Spa site and their replacement with an attractive, modern leisure centre, with a positive atmosphere, which appeals to the widest range of users (another way of describing a 'crinkly tin shed')
|Posted on Friday, 22 December, 2006 - 01:48 pm: |
Personally, I think a replacement building (possibly a leisure centre rather than just a swimming pool) would be preferable.
I am happy to admit that I am a bit of a stick-in-the-mud, who does not like change.
But I suspect that trying to preserve an old building will cost to much and not produce what people want now.
(Estimates have a horrible habit of needing revision.)
|Posted on Friday, 22 December, 2006 - 02:06 pm: |
Davidwhiting I'm not sure you read my piece correctly or Roz's. What I object to, is Roz's description of FH, and that our expectations for the area are too high. I'm a tax payer too, and would like to walk to my local baths, without having to get in car or use local transport (try getting two under 3's on bus) Also that we should settle on only having the pools that currently exist in the area. I am neither for or against a replacement, simply i think we should want the best for FH. If that be a replacement or refurbishment so be it. FYI toward the end of Roz's thread she implies that perhaps we should make do without...that is where i object!
|Posted on Saturday, 23 December, 2006 - 10:37 am: |
First of all, I haven't been 'sent by the Council' to do anything. I am probably one of its greatest critics as most former councillors will confirm, however I am not prepared to knock them entirely for the pool fiasco just to score political points. Old pool buildings are hard and expensive to run and maintain, which has no doubt contributed to the problems faced now, and which is why we need to move away from the retention per se argument.
Secondly, object away; after all freedom of thought and speech is still allowed, hence my own expression of my views, or my 'rants'. Seems however that you'd like to deny this right to anyone you disagree with, Haylands, judging by your response.
I don't recall making any specific reference to FH. Lewisham is indeed a fairly deprived inner London borough compared to Bromley, Westminster, Richmond, where so much revenue can be obtained from its residents as a higher proportion can afford to pay. Lewisham faces greater challenges and pressures on this front and will do for some time.
I too would like to be able to walk to a local swimming pool however I'm afraid I do mean what I say about expectations and about people wanting the earth. We need to wake up to economic reality and appreciate that the current plan to spend £5m on the most affluent pocket of a deprived borough is rather good as it stands.
In other parts of London, even in this borough, and in much of the rest of the country, few people have swimming pools within walking distance. They catch buses, inconvenient as it might be. When I was a child I had to catch two buses and then walk half a mile to the nearest pool.
As far as I am concerned, if Forest Hill is to retain a pool,and £5m is forthcoming, the priority should be a sustainable, energy efficient, easy to maintain,cheap to run, building that is accessible to all users. This can only be obtained with a modern newbuild facility.
|Posted on Saturday, 23 December, 2006 - 11:29 am: |
In October 2005 Lewisham sent out a 20,000 consultation leaflet and held two very well attended public meetings about the future of the pools. The pools users who attended the meetings, made it clear that because of the amount of water activities at Forest Hill two pools were required and these would only be provided if the current building was refurbished. A new build would provide one 25m six-lane pool.
The return on the consultation was split 50/50, and many people thought the questions were loaded towards a rebuild. Having listened to the discussions and arguments at the public meetings the Sydenham Society came down in favour of retaining the original building, as demolishing the old and building a new one meant that the original £4.6m would not go anywhere towards providing a quality building with two pools.
At the spring 2006 Area Forum Mayor Steve Bullock announced the decision to refurbish. That was when the other decision regarding an intrusive survey was also announced. There were many sceptics about the council's ultimate intentions.
The current figure of £5.1m will not provide for a new, properly appointed building with two pools.
Until recently the council has not addressed the future of Louise House, which surely must come into the discussion about the future of this whole site. Lewisham has now agreed that Louise House should be used for community purposes but there has been no indication as to what will happen to this building.
There is an Area Forum meeting on 20 January (venue still to be announced) when local residents in Forest Hill, Perry Vale and Sydenham Wards should expect to have some more specific information.
I think there is a much bigger picture we should be keeping our eyes on.
|Posted on Saturday, 23 December, 2006 - 05:03 pm: |
The Area Forum for Perry Vale, Forest Hill and Sydenham Wards will be at St George's Church, Vancouver Road, Perry Vale on the 30th January. All your councillors for these wards should be there, along with some council officers and it will be a good opportunity to discuss the future of the pools amongst other issues.
Your Forest Hill Ward councillors will also be hosting a Forest Hill Ward Open Meeting on the 8th January at the Holy Trinity Church Centre, off Sydenham Park.
|Posted on Wednesday, 27 December, 2006 - 10:01 am: |
Roz are you suggesting I send my 3 year old, and 6 month old off on their own? It must have been really tough in the good olde days!! With regards to the 'deprived' point, please accept my apologises. I interpreted as a reference to FH, and not Lewisham as whole. With regards to democracy, i love, bring it on, however I will always want the best for FH as I am quite parochial! Wishing you all the very best in the New year.
|Posted on Sunday, 07 January, 2007 - 12:43 am: |
Some interesting points.
Surely a "deprived area" will only be more deprived if it loses facilities? As for whether Forest Hill is or is not deprived; Roz, you are not correct I am afraid in stating that this is the most affluent pocket of the borough - don't forget that Blackheath vilage is in Lewisham, and we should not forget the east side of Brockley and Grove Park. What is clear is that despite a more middle class population than most parts of the borough there are still many people in the area suffering from a degree of deprivation.
I am also unsure as to why we should be seen not to "deserve" a pool because of our position, if that is the underlying sentiment. Surely we should all get the same services, rather than an enhanced level for the poor? Or should the middle classes go and find themselves a private gym?
The pools mentioned are not particularly good examples or substitutes as many are in adjacent boroughs, are difficult to reach or are closed most of the year (Brockwell lido).
In Lewisham we only have Forest Hill (closed), Deptford (inaccessible), the Bridge (spitting distance of borough boundary, acquired as much by accident as design, handy for Bromley residents, less so for us), Ladywell and Downham (not yet open). This does not seem to me extravagant provision for a borough of 250,000 people.
I think concerns over the allocation of resources may also be misplaced. I have had a skim through Lewisham's accounts but could not see the leisure spend; however the annual budget is close to a billion pounds so the operational cost of one pool is not significant, especially given the charges levied at the point of use.
Concern over the prospect of a new leisure centre comes from the loss of townscape contribution of the existing facade (even though it is no classic, I don't suppose the replacement we would get would be an award winner), and scepticism following the sorry story of the Clissold centre and to a lesser extent of Downham.
|Posted on Sunday, 07 January, 2007 - 01:37 pm: |
I disagree with Roz on several points.
1. That problems with the existing building were almost inevitable because of their age. The pools were closed unexpectedly because a structural problem has been allowed to deteriorate to a point where the roof was unsafe and borderline uneconomic to repair. Given that the pools are one of few public assets in Forest Hill that's not inevitable, but it is a disgrace. Easy to say in hindsight, but where was the inspection strategy?
2. That the building have no architectural merit. Forest Hill has little real history but surely the 1885 facade of one of first victorian pools in london must qualify. The rest of the structure I agree is unremarkable. Now Heron House is a different matter.
3. I don't feel spoilt for choice in swimming pools in this area. The public transport options are far from convenient. Crystal Palace is my nearest, which is about 40 mins each way by bus and walking to swim in a pool that is poorly maintained and unsuitable for children. The UK has a problem with childhood obesity and I'm not surprised given the access to facilties.
|Posted on Monday, 08 January, 2007 - 10:34 am: |
The building was closed suddenly, yes, but it didn't take a crystal ball to work out that this was on the cards. Old buildings take an extortionate amount of money to keep them going,especially for such an intensive use as a pool, with all the heating and ventilation costs, as well as general repairs. Everything including structural members have a life span after which point they are beyond economic repair. The Council could probably have kept this going for a bit longer by sinking thousands of pounds into the fabric over the years, but then that would have created its own public outcry no doubt.
I appreciate my views probably stem from my own surveyor training and what I do for a living which makes me patently aware of what it takes and costs to manage and repair old buildings ,but I would urge everyone to think about this carefully and consider whether sentiment about retention is really going to deliver the best possible outcome for Forest Hill. The agenda these days is about costs in use, accessibility and inclusion, and energy efficiency, and as I've said above, the existing building simply doesn't cut it.
|Posted on Monday, 08 January, 2007 - 06:14 pm: |
Roz may have a point. I think that FH would really benefit from a pool but we don't necessarily need to have it in that lovely old building. However I still like the idea of the old building being preserved so we can at least enjoy looking at it as we walk/drive by. Now, let's think... When are people prepared to pay for historical buildings with character? London is full of old buldings that are converted into flats which are a lot more expensive to buy than the newbuild equivalent. I have an idea. The council could convert the existing building into a block of posh flats, sell them off for a fortune and use the profits to build a modern more efficient pool on a brownfield site, possibly near FH station ... Hey, what about building a pool/leisure centre as part of a new FH train station??? We could then have a double win - a new pool/leisure centre and a great new train station all in one! However, I am sure the logistics make this idea unworkable... Lewisham council are not going to get into bed with Railtrack or whatever they're called now...
|Posted on Monday, 08 January, 2007 - 08:00 pm: |
A creative, if rather impractical solution.
I am not sure that there is the space never mind the practicalities of those two organisations getting such a concept off the ground. I suspect Lewisham would be forced to make it an 'affordable housing' type project in any case, bringing in much less revenue. Commendable lateral thinking though.
Roz, I don't doubt that a new building would be cheaper to run, but the bigger picture here also includes the future development of the whole of Forest Hill. As I have said before, I think that a "new build" would make us just another faceless London suburb with a few amenities like a modern pool (which will never be the best/biggest/cheapest/... and therefore have no particular USP).
On the other hand, a refurbishment, making as much as possible of modern technology within the project, help to raise the profile of the whole area. What is the story of Forest Hill without such Victorian buildings?
A well managed refurbishment is much more likely to attract new users & residents, thus in turn bringing in more business to the area, all of which brings in more council tax to pay for the project.
Does the costing include a 'middle ground' that would rebuild the structure of the building that needs to be modern (particularly the roof) but keep the facade and overall layout?
|Posted on Monday, 08 January, 2007 - 10:10 pm: |
Slightly off topic comment maybe, but why are all the lights on in the pools at night? Must cost a fortune! Is it because of the occasional phantom swimmer or perhaps some insomniac structural surveyors?
|Posted on Tuesday, 09 January, 2007 - 08:15 am: |
I used to use Balham pool which is also a Vcitorian pool - though considerably younger than Forest Hill's. A couple of years ago, it underwent a major refurbishment which basically just kept the facade. Beyond the Victorian facade, it is a very modern facility. I miss it...
|Posted on Tuesday, 09 January, 2007 - 09:09 am: |
Sounds like it could be the answer
|Posted on Tuesday, 09 January, 2007 - 09:43 am: |
I think this is line that should be taken. Keep the facade and build behind. For regeneration to take hold we have to create an environment that people want to live and spend time, and money in. Forest Hill from it's name to its topography has character and therefore immense opportuntiies to build on and become a popular habitat. yes this may make it more expense to live in FH, but I can't apologise for that as we live in a world driven by supply and demand (reality). What this will do, is to create a trinkle down effect onto the surrounding/bordering areas, a sort of viral affect, to pull in new investment to ALL of Lewisham. Unfortunately, however nobel your beliefs, spreading resource thinly across all of Lewisham will not create further wealth, but only see a large budget fall into an even larger hole. However pinpointing areas and investing in those will perform as a marketing tool for the whole of Lewisham. It's no 'rocket science', we've seen it in many parts of London, the country and across the world.
|Posted on Tuesday, 09 January, 2007 - 09:48 am: |
If the pool was redeveloped in the right way then it could be much more than a swimming pool. By including a leisure centre and rooms for adult education and other council services it is possible to close some other sites in the areas, particularly the adult education centre in Kirkdale - idea for redevelopment as housing. This will significantly add to the spend available on the pool.
While the library is a nice building I do not think there is much architectural merit in the facade of the swimming pool and I think we should have a modern building, built in harmony with the library building. The Horniman extension is a good example of this being possible and that when the right amount is spent there is no need for modern buildings to be ugly tin sheds.
|Posted on Tuesday, 09 January, 2007 - 01:03 pm: |
Point taken about the Horniman Michael, but that works because it is an extension, not a replacement, so it works as a contrast.
I like the idea of combining resources and thus freeing up other sites for redevelopment though. However, doing all of this is predicated on substantially altering the current building and would effectively mean starting afresh. I still believe that we would be better served keeping SOME history in the area, stikingly beautiful or not.
I think a good health centre in the pool would be a great asset, and the additional services (adult education, leisure facilities, etc.) could be run out of Louise House, making use of the whole site and not therefore building something too big and complicated.
Whilst we do want services for local residents, we don't also want to make this such a massive development that it would cause further traffic/parking/public transport issues along this narrow road.
I do feel like saying "Can't we just have our pool back?"
|Posted on Wednesday, 10 January, 2007 - 05:53 pm: |
We need some history in the area. Anyway at the risk of repeating myself ad nauseum (because these issues are raised every few months) I use the Arches in Greenwich, an old style pool which is well run. I also lived in Stoke Newington and witnessed the debacle of the Clissold Leisure Centre with state of the art pool that turned into a total disaster. There is no guarantee a brand new building will deliver what we want - and especially not if it means only having one pool. I swim in pools all over London so am able to make useful comparisons. We shouldn't just be measuring things in monetary terms either - value works in all kinds of ways. Aesthetic and historic value for instance. If we knock down the existing building we'll destroy imo a significant part of FH's history - plus if it hadn't been so badly neglected in the first place it could still be in use. Witness E.Dulwich, Acton, the aforementioned Greenwich etc.
|Posted on Friday, 12 January, 2007 - 10:16 am: |
Lewisham does have a history of letting buildings fall into disrepair and the only solution becomes demolition. The result maybe something 'new' but the facility may not be better than before. In political jargon 'state of the art' merely means new.
|Posted on Sunday, 14 January, 2007 - 10:36 am: |
At risk of shooting my own arguments in the foot (partly) I would say that I am not that keen on the Horniman extension; it lacks the ornate features of the original building which was common at the time of that construction. ie the new facade is too plain and looks out of place. Additionally I went to some classes in that building and was surprised to find that no heating had been provided,hence we had to make do with portable electric dimplex radiators which are not cheap to run and have trailing wires which make them a bit of a risk in a public venue. So much more could have been made of this ie solar panels, given that its right next door to the CUE building with its green roof. For me the 'fault' lies in the procurement and specification of the building , not necessarily because it is new build per se, and this goes back to client specification and consultant appointments. I know this was a Costain design and build job who are excellent at complex engineering but suspect that budgetary pressures may have resulted in the outcome differing somewhat from the original aspirations.
|Posted on Thursday, 18 January, 2007 - 09:51 pm: |
The following is an extract from 'the Palace' Issue 2 (Jan 2007):
Ward Residents Open Meeting
30th Jan 7.30 pm to 9.30 pm at St George’s Church (corner of Vancouver and Woolstone Roads). It is for residents of Sydenham, Forest Hill and Perry Vale Wards. Presentations and discussion will focus on the East London Line coming to Sydenham, Forest Hill and Crystal Palace from 2010. Feedback will also be given on the survey on Forest Hill pools. The survey concludes that over all the building fabric retains its structural integrity and that its defects are rectifiable. The costs are being finalised, including a contingency sum, so that the refurbishment can proceed.
There will be an opportunity to share your views and discuss other issues that matter to you with your councillors i.e. on the environmental improvements to Sydenham Road and feedback on the first stage of the consultation to improve the local shopping area. An exhibition showing the proposed renovation of Forest Hill Library and other information will be available.
Cllr Chris Best (Labour)
|Posted on Monday, 22 January, 2007 - 01:20 pm: |
See this link for the Council's plans for Wavelengths:
http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/NewsAndEvents/News/July September2006/SeeForYourselfWavelengthsPoolAndLibr ary.htm