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Kingston warned it 'could have no swimming pools left'

By Charlotte Lillywhite - Local Democracy Reporter

23rd Nov 2022 | Local News

A new leisure centre with a 25-metre swimming pool to replace the Malden Centre is part of the proposed Cocks Crescent revamp – along with new homes.
A new leisure centre with a 25-metre swimming pool to replace the Malden Centre is part of the proposed Cocks Crescent revamp – along with new homes.

A South London council has been warned it could be left with no swimming pools in the borough after it revealed plans to sell off the "family silver". Kingston councillors raised concerns over the future of the planned revamp of Cocks Crescent in New Malden at a corporate and resources committee meeting on Tuesday.

A new leisure centre with a 25-metre swimming pool to replace the Malden Centre is part of the proposed Cocks Crescent revamp – along with new homes. The Malden Centre has Kingston's last-remaining public swimming pool as the Kingfisher Leisure Centre is demolished and replaced. But some land being held for the Cocks Crescent development will now be used to expand a local primary school instead. 

Part of the empty Noble Centre and Hobkirk House site will be used to increase the amount of outdoor play space at Burlington School, which is being expanded, and the rest will be sold off. A council report says this will "reduce the developable area available as part of the wider Cocks Crescent scheme but the loss is not considered material to its overall viability".

Independent councillor James Giles told Tuesday's committee the move leaves the council in a "sticky situation" as a key way to fund the new pool at Cocks Crescent was using Hobkirk House for new homes.

He said: "The Malden centre is coming to the end of its working life. It does need to be replaced, we were talking about this eight years ago, and if we dispose of this site then the ability to do that will be in doubt and my concern is we'll end up with a Kingfisher mark two. 

"We'll end up with a centre having to close because it's gone beyond its working life and we won't have the necessary ability to be able to fund a pool because we've sold off the family silver. We've sold it to a private developer and then we won't have a single pool in this borough."

The Kingfisher Leisure Centre shut down in 2019.

But Lib Dem councillor Noel Hadjimichael said: "It is my advice that, given that a significant area of land adjacent to Hobkirk House is now required and will make a positive contribution to the education neighbour next door, that bringing forward this sale will not in any material way adversely affect the broader… Cocks Crescent redevelopment scheme or project."

The committee also approved the sale of other council-owned properties to raise cash to fund future projects across the borough.

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