Kingfisher Leisure Centre: Kingston Council postpone promised plans 

Kingston Council has delayed all future plans to build a new swimming pool and leisure centre in the borough due to “financial pressures”.

While many are unhappy with the decision, the council’s statement has not made any promises for a new leisure centre being built anytime soon.

“It is not appropriate to be rushed into making promises and overcommitting to timescales without being clear on the next steps. As soon as we are able to give more detail, we will do so,” the press announcement read.

In a statement released on the website, the council said the project would have cost at least double their budget of £79.5m.

Councillor Andreas Kirsch, Leader of the Council, said: “We are 100% committed to providing a high quality, accessible, and sustainable swimming and leisure centre on the existing site in Kingston. But we must be responsible and prudent and balance our ambition with reality.”

The council had previously got the green light to build on the existing site of the Kingfisher Leisure Centre, which closed in 2019 after the roof was deemed to be structurally unsafe.

The leisure centre was demolished in 2021 when the cost of replacing the roof was estimated to be £5m.

Many residents opposed the demolition at the time, and a petition against the decision reached almost 4,000 signatures. 

The council had promised an upgraded leisure centre in place of the Kingfisher but, four years later, the borough is still waiting.

Green Party response 

Kingston’s Green Party, which had campaigned to fix the roof, responded to the council’s announcement on Twitter and said the decision was “not good enough”.

Mike Underwood, official Communications Officer for the party, said: “They must have known some time ago that their promises were way out and, as a result, residents are suffering. 

“A whole generation of school children doesn’t have access to a swimming pool.”

Underwood said he and other residents have been let down by the promises made by Kingston Council.

“They seem to have cancelled the whole project and left a hole in the ground,” he said.

Residents hit out at Council 

Many residents of the borough are displeased with the news. In response to the council’s tweet, one user wrote: “Now we have nothing and no expectation of anything for years. And whatever comes will cost millions more than just fixing the roof would have done.”

Former Liberal Democrat Councillor Jon Tolley was among those speaking out against the news. Tolley shared a previous post on the Liberal Democrats’ Twitter page which promised a state-of-the-art leisure centre in 2024 and condemned the “confusion and delay” surrounding plans at that time.

Uncertain future for Kingfisher site

In their statement the council gave no indication when a new leisure centre could now be expected.

In the meantime, residents will have to travel to the New Malden Centre to swim for affordable prices or opt for a membership to more expensive private pools such as David Lloyd Clubs.

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