Roadmap for Opening Kenilworth Outdoor Pool 2021
Outdoor pools, including those run by Everyone Active, are opening throughout the UK. This is a strategy to set out how the opening of the outdoor pool can work in Kenilworth, Warwickshire.
THE FACTS: The UK Government has confirmed that Outdoor Pools can open. From 29th March 2021, settings permitted to open included outdoor sports facilities such as swimming pools. At his 5th April briefing Boris Johnson confirmed England will progress to the next stage of lockdown lifting on 12 April as he said the roadmap was on track.
WDC Officer Rose Winship has stated that opening of sports facilities will be driven by data not dates. If WDC do not intend to follow Government guidelines and open the outdoor pool facility, how exactly does WDC data differ from UK Government data to support this decision?
THE BENEFITS: This is an opportunity to create an inviting outdoor pool in Abbey Fields - something that would put Kenilworth on the map at a time when outdoor swimming - all year round - is increasingly popular and known to be beneficial to physical and mental health.
Abbey Fields Outdoor Pool is the only outdoor facility in the district. It would provide a district facility which would be used throughout Warwickshire and beyond.
ACTIONS: Steps we can take together to make this work
“Beach style” changing: swimmers can arrive ‘pool ready’
Additional entry through the back gate to alleviate congestion at the main entrance.
Allotted time slots to be pre-booked (and pre-paid) to ensure numbers do not exceed covid safe limits.
Time slots can be staggered to avoid indoor and outdoor swimmers arriving together.
Longer opening hours, including evening (after work) or early morning, to spread demand and allow wider usage.
Utilising volunteers under the supervision of Everyone Active to engage and involve the local community and meet additional staffing needs as a result of Covid restrictions
Effective communication through social media and local advertising to ensure people are aware of the outdoor swimming facility and related events.
Actively seek opportunities to generate income (private pool hire, swim into the sunset etc)
Welcoming potential collaborations with ‘Friends of Kenilworth Lido’ or similar Groups.
OTHER NATIONAL INITIATIVES: Many operators recognise the appeal of outdoor swimming. Outdoor pools and Lidos across the country ARE opening and a growing number of examples can be found including;
KENILWORTH LIDO CAMPAIGN'S OBJECTION TO THE PLANNING PERMISSION APPLICATION MADE BY WARWICK DISTRICT COUNCIL, TO DEMOLISH AND REFURBISH ABBEY FIELDS LEISURE FACILITIES
Kenilworth Lido Campaign objects to the proposed plans for the following reasons:
PARKING, HIGHWAYS AND ACCESS
No additional parking is envisaged despite the fact that WDC anticipates an increase in users of the pool which they state equates to an additional 40 car movements per hour ie., 1 arrival and 1 departure every 3 minutes. In reality, the arrivals and departures will mainly be timed to coincide with the start and end of swimming lessons and swimming sessions. This will result in peaks in car movement with people looking for parking spaces. Inevitably, the lack of additional spaces will result in families looking for on-street parking, leading to a lack of parking for residents in the area arriving home at the end of the day, which is the peak time for after school swimming lessons to take place.
This will also result in congestion at the car park entrance at these times, which will impact on the surrounding streets.
Sunday mornings are shown as being a peak time for swimming pool usage. This also coincides with services at St. Nicholas’s church. This will put additional strain on the car park.
It should be noted that local residents use Abbey Fields Car park and hold residential parking permits which reduces the availability of spaces for pool users. Monday 8.3.21 at 9.00, we counted 8 cars with parking permits and Saturday 6.3.21 in the evening, we counted 11 cars parked with parking permits.
The Planning Statement predicts that when demand exceeds the supply of spaces, the surplus demand will be accommodated within other publicly available car parking facilities, including Square West car park which is located 400m from Abbey Fields.
Square West car park is a pay and display car park whereas in Abbey Fields, the first 2 hours of parking are free. Additionally, pavements to Abbey Fields from Square West and Square East are narrow and close to the busy road. The path to the swimming pool is a steep, unlit path. For a parent with 2 or three young children, attending swimming lessons after school in the winter, this is not an appealing option. It would be safer and more convenient to seek on-street parking, leading to congestion on the streets and inconvenience for local residents with parking permits, who will find that there is nowhere available to park at the end of the day.
Alternatively, parents will travel a little further for swimming lessons, to Warwick University, where parking is not a problem.
The planning proposal claims that this development will offer "facilities for the profoundly disabled”. We welcome the (rather late) introduction of a Changing Places facility in Kenilworth and hope that WDC will continue this work by developing similar facilities elsewhere in the District.
However, if this is to be a district wide facility for profoundly disabled people it will surely need to provide more than the two disabled parking spaces shown on the plans.
Furthermore, what will happen if one or both these spaces are used by disabled staff working at the pools?
The WDC Parking standard SPD states that : A minimum of 5% of the total number of spaces should be provided to the standards set out below for use by people with disability.
Given 82 parking spaces in the Abbey Field car park, this would equate to a requirement of 4 accessible parking spaces.
The plans refer to a “drop off zone”, this fails to recognise that it would often not be safe or practicable for someone with a profound disability to wait in the drop off zone while their driver drove off to park elsewhere.
ELECTRIC VEHICLE RECHARGING POINTS
The SPD states that for all retail/commercial/industrial land uses, 10% of parking spaces should have recharging points. The provision of charging points is confirmed in the Kenilworth Local Plan, Para KP 12:
Electric vehicle charging infrastructure, as set out in the standards, will be required where practical, for both allocated and non-allocated parking.
There are no electric charging facilities evident on the plan.
Abbey Fields car park was built on land designated as being for “public walks and pleasure grounds” and should not be a car park at all. Over the years, this seems to have been overlooked.
The area just inside the wall as you enter/ leave the car park is very dangerous. Pedestrians and vehicles are forced to use the same space, no separate/ safe space for pedestrians.
The wall creates a blind spot for drivers turning into the site from Bridge Street and when they are leaving.
The Transport Assessment states that it is acceptable for coaches to park to offload on the “wide” pavement in Bridge Street (between the entrance to the car park and the actual bridge on abbey fields side of the road) this area is not designed or adequate for that purpose. It would be dangerous for people to get on and off coaches here. The parked coaches would also create a hazard as blocks vision of drivers on the road.
This Assessment quote accidents that have happened in the area. It fails to mention a fatal accident at top of Bridge street/ Priory road about 15/ 20 years ago. It was nothing to do with the swimming pool, but should be referenced
With the lack of increased parking facilities to meet the anticipated increased usage of the proposed development, WDC are encouraging access to the pool by bus, foot or by bicycle, despite there being no permitted cycling within Abbey Fields. It is quite likely, and is currently evident on a daily basis to anyone walking through the park, that many cyclists ignore the no cycling rule. This leads to regular disputes between cyclists and pedestrians. There is currently no lighting on the paths approaching the pool from the town centre or from Borrowell Lane. The proposal that cyclists and pedestrians should share a common unlit path in the dark, is unsafe.
From the Planning Guide:
(e) Lighting – Lighting design should respond to the layout of the space and the hard and soft landscaping. It should ensure that pedestrian routes are easy to navigate after dark, and appropriately illuminate the space. There should be no 'dark spots' which could contribute to a sense of insecurity
However, any proposal to light these paths would possibly have a negative impact on the ecology of the area:
6.71 As set out at paragraph 6.61 of this Planning Statement, the submitted Ecology Assessment highlights that any lighting proposed for this development must be designed to avoid impacts on Finham Brook.
Very little evidence of minimisation of light spillage is evident. The wildlife and bird population in the AF environment needs to be protected from light spillage from any new development into the environment.
The design fails to conserve and enhance the natural environment (NPPF ss109- 111). The hight and bulk of the proposed roof will intrude into the natural environment to a considerably greater extent than the current roof (see comment below “design and layout” section
It fails to consider or enhance the historic environment(NPPF ss129- 135) The materials selected will intrude rather than enhance the historic environment.
There is no evidence that the mitigations to disturbance to wildlife suggested in the EIA have been incorporated into the design: bat boxes, hedgehog runs etc.
We are concerned that the processes of demolition and construction plus the operation of a the new building will have an adverse and lasting impact upon the natural environment. Finham Brook provides a unique corridor linking the countryside on either side of the town. The brook itself has water quality superior to most other water courses in the region but the brook and its unique corridor will be disrupted during two to three years of demolition and construction in the immediate vicinity. Having a busy public faculty entrance so close to the brook will not help any possible recovery.
DESIGN AND LAYOUT
Kenilworth Neighbourhood Plan Policy KP15 Environmental standards of new buildings: The requirements for a Fabric First approach have not been incorporated into the design despite the fact that Fabric First is the first step towards Zero Carbon in a new building. This is contrary to section A.13 in Kenilworth Neighbourhood Plan and the internationally recognised Passivhaus standards.
The design does not meet standards of Good Design as outlined in National Planning Policy Framework ss. 58.
Policy KP19 designates Abbey Fields as ‘Local Green Space’ and seeks to protect it from inappropriate development. According to the submitted Design and Access Statement, the footprint of the proposed development is comparable to that of the existing building and is in the same location. The new building has also been designed to respond positively to its setting and enhance the historic parkland context within Abbey Fields. It is submitted therefore that the proposed development will not have a detrimental impact on Abbey Fields as Local Green Space, and indeed through its design will have a positive impact, and therefore accords with the Neighbourhood Plan Policy KP19.
It is untrue to suggest that the proposed building will be very little different to the current building because it occupies the same footprint. Whilst being in the same location, the building footprint of the proposed development is 575 square metres larger than the existing facility : 1775 m2 vs 1200 m2.
The proposed building will present a significantly increased visual intrusion both within the Abbey Fields park and on the vistas currently enjoyed from surrounding viewpoints and homes. The current building is 83.294 metres The proposed building will have a maximum height of 83.176m plus an additional 150 because it is raised above current ground level to reduce the risk of flooding (cf. EIA Screening Report 2.13)
The roof of the new building will be more intrusive because:
1. It covers most of the site whereas the majority of the present site is occupied by two outdoor pools, patios and terrace areas which are all at ground level.
2. The pitch of the proposed roof is more gradual, therefore significantly more of the roof will be at a high level.
3. The materials to be used incorporate large areas of glass and aluminium. This will create a stark visual impact, not at all sympathetic to the surrounding parkland. Additionally, there is further unnecessary use of metallic (zinc and aluminium) doors and wall surfaces; more appropriate materials should be used which blend into the overall design instead of standing out.
Light pollution from the new buildings windows and skylights will also cause visual disturbance both within Abbey Fields and to the surrounding area.
The inappropriate use of polycarbonate materials in the perimeter wall. Aesthetically pleasing materials should be used to limit the impact of noise and light pollution.
ENERGY & SUSTAINABILITY
We are surprised to note that a council claiming to be committed to becoming a net-zero carbon organisation are requesting permission/ planning to build a structure that fails to meet BREEAM standard “very good”.
The mitigations claimed in paragraphs 6.73 to 6.77 are insufficient. Phrases such as CHP "is proposed”, “potential use of Photovoltaic panels” “if required” and that air source heat pumps “are proposed” in these paragraphs, leaves scope for these mitigations to be abandoned at “Value Engineering” or other cost cutting exercises where there will be no public scrutiny.
Kenilworth Neighbourhood Plan A. 14 specifies that new buildings incorporate on site renewable energy. We do not believe this building will meet this requirement.
The proposed plans for the redevelopment of the leisure facilities (particularly on Abbey Fields), show a concerning lack of sustainable measures in the design and the documents produced on the council’s behalf and not only fail to review options thoroughly and correctly but also present a net increase of emissions during operation. All of this does nothing to review the emissions relating to the construction. It is therefore clear the proposal will be far from carbon neutral.
The RIBA stage 2 sustainability review* states that the current consumption of CO2 is 287,551 kg per annum. The new proposal will be 726,780 kg per annum, and after mitigation measures reducing by 407,432 kg per annum will be 319,348 kg per annum. This indicates the operation of the new building will have an 11% increase of emissions and will be very far from net zero.
The Department for business report from 2010† states that up to a 5th of emissions during a lifecycle of a building are from the construction and this is not accounted for in the reviews document, or in any further documentation. The decision for onsite plant to be a combined heat and power system is suggested to be motivated by sustainability and plant space but is clearly driven by cost. Onsite thermal storage is an engineering problem and can be addressed with new technologies and better site design.
The main sustainability concern is that the review is not comprehensive or done properly and
decisions are being made to save costs now that go against the council’s sustainability plan. This must be raised now as a national directive for net zero by 2050 may mean that the retrofit may be required within the next 20 years. The last renovation on the site was in 1985 so the council must believe the lifetime of the new pool to be around 40 years before future investment. Furthermore, retrofit of the plant system would be more costly than to employ sustainable technologies now.
*Appendix B – Kenilworth Leisure Centre Redevelopment RIBA Stage 2 Sustainability Review (Carbon and Energy Reduction) [We cite this document as it is used as WDC’s evidence on sustainability but we contest the accuracy of the content as there are clear mathematical errors]
†I & S. Department for Business, “Estimating the amount of CO2 emissions that the construction industry can influence” BIS, London, 2010.
Demolition and Construction
There is likely to be noise and dust disturbance to residents on Bridge Street, users of Abbey Fields
park and local wildlife. This will be exacerbated by the plan to process, crush and store hard core materials with 117 on site vehicle movements per day anticipated.
The design brief references that the new building will need to be supported by piling which cannot be designed (or costed!) until the current buildings are demolished. Can Planning Committee please stipulate that bored piling is used rather than driven piling, bored piling generates less noise and will reduce noise disturbance to park users, residents and wildlife.
Operation of the new facility
The new development will emit more carbon than the present building: There will be a higher energy requirement to heat and de-humidify the indoor space to accommodate two indoor pools than would be needed if one pool was outside, exposed to the elements and did not require to be heated and dehumidified.
The inclusion of sliding doors in this design will add to the challenges of managing humidity and therefore increase energy use/ emission of carbon.
We do not understand how a council that so proudly declared a Climate Emergency in 2019 and pledged to be Carbon Neutral by 2025 can less than two years later propose a project of this nature.
The proposed project fails to meet policy standards and the intentions of WDC's Climate Emergency Declaration at every stage. We hope that WDC Planning Committee will see that the proposed project fails to meet National and Local planning policies as well as the ambitions of their own Climate Emergency Declaration and Carbon Neutral Pledge by rejecting this proposal.
ADDITIONAL CAUSES FOR CONCERN
• What is the purpose of having an additional indoor pool? The extra ‘training pool’ was chosen by WDC on the commercial grounds given in the SLC Report (WDC Exec Jan 2019) which forecast demand for extra paid swimming lessons. However, this report omitted the competition from Warwick University’s new public pool. (Sport England has given the university pool the 'the highest attractiveness weighting of any site’ in this area.) The SLC report has now been dropped and has been omitted from the Planning documents. WDC now calls the extra indoor pool a ‘family fun pool’ even though the 2-3 fun sessions in its present pool never appear full.
• There is conflicting information in the documents currently available to the public concerning use of the tennis courts during demolition and construction work. The EIA states that part of the tennis courts will remain open (2.5), but in our view it is unlikely that any remaining courts would be structurally sound when heavy plant is present elsewhere on the same strip of tarmac. Nor would it be safe or desirable to play tennis right beside the heavy plant and materials store. Elsewhere a map indicates that the entire tennis court area will be used for construction purposes. A third statement indicates that the contractor will be able to choose the size of the area required for their operations.
• It is impossible to see how there could be safe physical access to the small children’s play area during the demolition and construction phases described. Noise and dust pollution would also render this area extremely unpleasant and probably unsafe for use by small children.
• We are also concerned about risk of damage or destruction to the historic thatched pavilion which is located close to the proposed site compound area on the tennis courts.
• Will Kenilworth lose its popular Carnival and Funfair that is usually sited close to the proposed site compound during the two year construction period?
We suggest an outdoor swimming pool would better meet the needs of Warwick District and Kenilworth residents in the 2020s and beyond. Better to have a choice of swimming facilities than two noisy and intimidating indoor pools.
There is a wealth of well documented evidence showing the physical and mental health benefits of outdoor swimming.
There is significant consumer demand for outdoor swimming provision; note the number of comments submitted to the planning portal and furthermore, that two private providers in the area (The Warwickshire and David Lloyd) plan to build outdoor pools. Shouldn’t this opportunity also be offered to those who use our municipal facilities?
Finally, outdoor exercise reduces the risk of transmission of Coronavirus, it’s variants and other public health threats that may emerge in the future. We note that the Government’s current roadmap out of lockdown permits open-air swimming in the second phase of Step 1, whereas indoor swimming facilities cannot open until Step 2.
OPEN LETTER TO ALL COUNCILLORS ON WARWICK DISTRICT COUNCIL
23rd February 2021
We were delighted to hear, in the Government announcement this week that from 29th March outdoor sports facilities, including open-air swimming pools, will be allowed to reopen. Now that we have a definite date from the Government, we sincerely hope that you will do everything you can to facilitate the opening of the outdoor pool in Abbey Fields. With no firm date for the opening of indoor sports facilities we see this as a vital action to support both the physical and mental health of our community, right now.
At the WDC meeting of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday 9th February, Officer, Miss Ann Hill, advised that there could be as much as a 6-week run-in to re-opening the outdoor pool which is why we hope you will act quickly to ensure the longest possible season for swimming and the greatest benefit to the community.
We have a willing group of volunteers ready to offer time and inspiration to support the opening of the pool. A big part of the enthusiasm and support for this idea is rooted in the links to nature, being outdoors, and the benefits to physical and mental wellbeing this can bring. There is surely a responsibility to ensure that safe, low impact outdoor exercise and activity options are provided for people of all ages, abilities and incomes.
With promises of opening the outdoor pool in 2020 dashed by the uncertainties of Coronavirus, it seems wholly right that the pool should be opened from April this year. This would allow the Town to celebrate 125 years of outdoor swimming in Abbey Fields before what could be the pool’s final year and its possible demolition.
This is a district resource and we are urging all Councillors to insist that Officers begin planning to prepare the pool in anticipation of opening on 29th March.
Judy Brook - Secretary
Kenilworth Lido Group
Following last week’s Council meeting Kenilworth Lido Campaign Chair Ruth Colgan expressed her disappointment at the decision not to pause the plans for leisure development in Abbey Fields and reconsider them in light of the changed world we now find ourselves in. Ruth was, however, delighted with the support shown by a number of District Councillors who spoke at the meeting and voted in favour of the Campaign Group’s proposal. She also thanked all members of the public and other local organisations who have supported the campaign to keep outdoor swimming in Kenilworth.
Previously the Council had agreed to open the outdoor pool in 2020 but those plans were scuppered by the COVID 19 outbreak. Looking ahead, the Campaign Group hopes that WDC will open the outdoor pool in May 2021 for what could potentially be its last season. There is a wealth of support from local community groups and businesses keen to collaborate and use the outdoor pool and it surrounds next year as outlined to Councillors in Judy Brook’s presentation along with the following innovative ideas: -
Kenilworth Arts Festival: to look at staging music and literary events, art exhibitions, workshops and wellbeing activities at the outdoor pool.
The COVID Support Group Kenilworth: willing to work together to utilise the outdoor space as part of reintegration projects being planned to support individuals to access health and wellbeing activities.
Kenilworth Chamber of Trade: to publicise and promote events and the outdoor pool.
Kenilworth Junior Triathlon Training Group: offering Triathlon Tasters and expertise on organising a Swimming Gala.
Kenilworth Art Society: to provide artwork and organise exhibitions and installations at the outdoor pool.
Support from local businesses including: - Kenilworth Books, The Orangery, Antigo Gift Shop, Artist Karen Pittaway, David Lee Solicitors, The Farthing Gallery, Emmerson’s Printers, Coffee on the Corner, The Treehouse Bookshop, Castle Mortgages and Pleasance Farm B&B.
Furthermore, the Campaign Group’s offer to provide voluntary support during 2021 season remains open.
In summary, Ruth Colgan commented that the first outdoor pool opened on 1 June 1896 and if good use could be made of the current pool next year, it would be a fitting celebration to mark 125 years of outdoor swimming in Abbey Fields.
We're pleased to share the KenilworthLido Campaign's good news! We now have over 1000 signatures on our petition which means it will be debated at the full Council Meeting in November. We've also got sport and leisure industry specialists FMG Consulting lined up to bring their expertise to the campaign, so we need to raise some funds for professional advice and reports. If you can support by donating and sharing we'd really appreciate it.
and if you haven't already, please sign our new petition
Chance for a fair assessment of lido option for Abbey Fields
Although Kenilworth residents chose to keep and develop its historic outdoor pool in the town’s consultation, the District Council has been drawing up plans to build an extra indoor pool in place of the outdoor pool.
Now, faced with a budget crisis, the Council is to pause its scheme, before beginning construction, to decide whether it is affordable and to make ‘hard choices’ between this and other council priorities. The 2 indoor pools will cost a phenomenal £10 million and competition to provide swimming lessons from nearby pools has caused the business case for an extra indoor pool to collapse.
It’s essential now that the stunning Studio Bates lido design has the feasibility study it deserves. Thomas Bates, an architect who went to Kenilworth School, and established his practice in 2018 after working for a number of internationally renowned offices, has prepared a design which reconnects the pool with its historic setting in the beautiful Abbey Fields and would provide ‘the best of Outdoor and Indoor Swimming for the 21st Century’.
Comparisons with other lidos indicate that the Studio Bates Lido proposal would cost a fraction of the present proposal, would attract tens of thousands of visits a year and be self-financing. Outdoor swimming and children’s water play is valuable for both physical and mental wellbeing and weighting should also be given for the community and tourism benefits of our traditional heated outdoor pool.
As we all try to adapt to the ‘new normal’ brought about by Coronavirus, simply the fact that being outdoors is proven to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the disease warrants an urgent review of outdoor leisure facilities.
To show your support for Warwick District Council facilitating a full and valid feasibility study for the retention of outdoor swimming in Kenilworth, please sign the petition at Change.org; ‘Save Kenilworth’s Outdoor Pool. New Petition’ and speak with your District Councillor.
Please sign our NEW petition below and call on Warwick District Council to to pause the current Kenilworth leisure project and 'create a revised plan'; and this to include a Feasibility Study into the viability of an outdoor pool.
This petition REPLACES our previous petitions, so if you have already signed a previous petition, please sign this one too. Make your voice heard!
WDC Public Consultation
Throughout November, WDC will consult again on the Abbey Fields swimming pool redevelopment. They'll tell you it's too late to save the only public outdoor swimming pool in the District.
This is not true. The council does not have planning permission. It can be changed!
ACT NOW - use Warwick District Council’s consultation to give your views. Use the free text boxes to make it clear that you wish to
keep an outdoor pool in Abbey Fields
have concerns about disabled access and parking
Believe it is important to limit environmental damage
For Our Future