• CarolineShah

Developer profit trumps climate change concerns in approval of new Kingston leisure centre

How hot will the water be in Kingston's new swimming pool?

On 15th July 2022, Kingston Council issued the formal notice approving its plans for a new leisure centre to replace The Kingfisher that they have doomed to demoltion

We have six weeks from 15 July 2022 to launch a legal challenge, if there are identified grounds to do so, having first attempted to settle matters out of court by sending a pre-action letter to the council from Leigh Day to which the council is bound to respond

I have identified a number of issues that I believe may present reasonable grounds for a legal challenge of that decision

We now need a legal opinion quickly

Please donate here to help find out if there are grounds to challenge Kingston Council's plans for a new leisure centre

Some people will ask - why stop the plans now, we need a pool?

And I agree we need a pool. But we need a pool that can be opened as soon as possible, that is affordable to the wider community, and that is not dependent on the building of tower blocks on The Cattle Market. And a pool that Kingston Council - which is facing significant financial challenges - can itself afford

That pool is at the current Kingfisher Leisure Centre

The proposal for the new leisure centre does not stack up practically, and possibly legally too

That is what we need to find out by asking Jenny Wigley QC for her legal opinion as soon as possible

The approved new leisure centre will eat up nearly 1200 square metres of protected open space, against local and regional policies. It will result in an increased building footprint in a flood risk area at a time when we are facing increased severe weather events but the risks from which have not been evaluated; and it will have an impact on the Fairfield/ Knights Park Conservation Area, the defining features of which have been ignored. All for facilities where we have no idea who will be able to afford them, or when they will be open for public use and that my or may not benefit the average resident of Kingston, Mr Joe Public.

Oddly enough, as well, Kingston Council has agreed with Thames Water that the swimming pools in the new leisure centre will be emptied every night. And there will be a football pitch on the roof instead of solar panels that could capture and store solar energy to power the new centre. Sustainable? You decide.

Maybe worst of all, from a practical point of view, the approved centre will churn carbon in to the atmosphere at levels not allowed by local and regional policy unless it becomes joined to a District Heat Network that does not yet exist and may not be economically or environmentally feasible

But the worrying fact is that in the draft Section 106 agreement for the Cambridge Road Estate development, published on 18 July 2022, the developer - which is 50% the Council - does NOT even commit to use a District Heating Network to power the estate, although the same commitment to join the network was made as in the planning application there as with The Kingfisher

And without a source of and commitment to use clean, sustainable energy, we are left with the status quo - large scale developments churning even more carbon in to the atmosphere than the smaller developments that are there now

In the case of The Cambridge Road Estate, Kingston Council and its partner commit only to use their "best efforts" to connect to a future District Heating Network and those efforts give them an out at the drop of a hat:

We are facing a climate emergency but developer profit comes first

Please donate now to help get the opinion of Jenny Wigley QC as to whether there are legal grounds to challenge Kingston Council's decision to approve plans for its proposed new leisure centre

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