Kingston: Future of Kingfisher centre and Guildhall to be debated at Council meeting tonight - here's all you need to know

  Posted: 12.10.21 at 18:34 by Ellie Brown

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Two petitions opposing major changes to Kingston town centre will be decided on at a full meeting of the Council tonight.

This includes a high-profile campaign to stop the Kingfisher leisure centre being knocked down after planning permission for this was authorised by the Lib-Dem led Council last month.

The controversial decision led to the resignation of Councillor Jon Tolley from the local party and sparked a petition calling on the Council to stop the demolition of the Kingfisher centre.

The Kingfisher has been closed since 2019 due to safety concerns and repairing the roof is estimated to cost £5million but planning teams say this is not a long-term solution.

Defending its decision, the Council say the 34-year-old building has come to the end of its life and L]" target="_blank">building a state of the art replacement is the best option.

But the ruling prompted a huge local backlash and the petition opposing the demolition now has 3,500 signatures.

The future of the Kingfisher Centre is also due to be up for debate (Image: Ellie Brown)

Canbury resident Caroline Shah started the petition.

She and its supporters, including 1,600 residents of the borough, fear that that a new centre would take years to build.

This would leave residents with only one public pool in Kingston upon Thames.

The signatories are also sceptical that a replacement will actually be built as planning permission has not been secured by the Council for a new centre yet.

This is why they are also arguing for a legally-binding commitment by the Council to replace the Kingfisher before the demolition goes ahead.

The other key petition being debated tonight is the campaign by Save Royal Kingston to keep the Guildhall building under Council ownership.

The Guildhall, a Grade II listed building on Kingston high street, houses the Council's offices as well as the town's archives.

Earlier this year however the Council revealed it is exploring selling the asset as it is too expensive and not environmentally friendly to run.

Selling the building along with the main Guildhall site would also help fund the construction of the new leisure centre which is estimated to cost £40 million.

But this idea has been strongly criticised by opposition councillors and residents including campaign group Save Royal Kingston.

They say that the Guildhall is too important for Kingston Council to lose as it houses essential services including citizenship ceremonies, community meetings and other civic functions and groups.

Both the Guildhall building and Kingfisher leisure centre were recently listed as Assets of Community Value by the Save Royal Kingston campaign.

Tonight's full Council meeting takes place in the Guildhall building at 7.30pm.

Kingston Nub News will be there, so check our website and Twitter feed @KingstonNubNews for updates.

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