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  • CarolineShah

10 reasons why Kingston's Kingfisher Leisure Centre must not be demolished

Get your hands off our Kingfisher Lesiure Centre!

On Tuesday 12 October 2021, all the councillors of Kingston Council - representing all residents from across the Borough - will meet to debate the petition to Stop the Demolition of The Kingfisher Leisure Centre

Nearly 3,500 people have already signed the petition to stop the demolition

The debate must focus on why the demolition should not go ahead

We must hold our elected representatives to account if they sidetrack the discussion in to anything other than the demolition that was approved by the Council's Planning Committee on 1 September 2021

Here are ten reasons why I believe that the decision to grant planning permission to demolish The Kingfisher Leisure Centre in Kingston must be quashed:
  1. The decision may be in breach of legal requirements if The Kingfisher has been rendered unsafe as a result of the council's inaction to repair it and if repair work can be carried out to make the building safe so that it can reopen

  2. There must be no "net loss" of facilities according to relevant planning policies. A net loss of sporting and leisure facilities is unavoidable if the council demolishes The Kingfisher. Sport England objected to the demolition on the grounds that there will be a net loss of facilities if the Kingfisher is demolished

  3. The minuted decisions of the Response and Recovery Committee of Kingston Council in May 2021 were never to "reprovide a leisure centre" and thus no firm commitment for reprovision can be deemed to have been made; there therefore appears to be no reasonable argument to support officers' conclusion to the committee that approved the planning application for demolition that demolition will not cause any "net loss" of facilities

  4. The assertion that the nomination of The Kingfisher as an Asset of Community Value, by local community group, Save Royal Kingston, has little weight because the council claims that there will be no net loss of facilities does not appear rational or reasonable

  5. Council officers did not demonstrate in the report to the committee that approved the planning application for demolition that all the relevant policies in the council's Development Plan and in National Planning policies had been met

  6. The Planning Committee of the Council may have acted beyond its powers in approving the planning application for demolition as there appears to be no evidence that any decision-making body of the Council has approved a decision to demolish The Kingfisher. This would be necessary for a planning application to be submitted

  7. Conditions agreed as part of the approval to demolish relating to the stag beetle, a species protected under the Habitats Directive, do not appear to meet statutory requirements

  8. The Equalities Impact Assessment of the council's Town Centre Regeneration plans does not mention the planned demolition of The Kingfisher or assess impacts arising from the demolition, despite earlier council reports highlighting the significant deprivation faced by some sections of Kingston's community

  9. The ongoing closure of The Kingfisher is already having a significant detrimental impact, recognised by the council, who have stated in a formal report in 2020 that: "Public health services, Get Active and Better Bones were both running out of The Kingfisher site", and "schools are struggling to have swimming lessons" and "those users with less mobility and are less active may not have access to a local facility". KingfisherTri, a long -established Kingfisher-bsed triathlon club, have said they cannot find permanent alternative swimming pools for their members since The Kingfisher closed and local swimming club, Kingston Royals, has had to resort to using the pool of a private school in Hampton for swimming training

  10. No Strategic Environmental Assessment ("SEA") or Equalities Impact Assessment ("EqIA") has taken place of the broader and massive "regeneration" plans (including The Guildhall and Cattle Market sites) which the demolition of The Kingfisher facilitates. Growth on this scale is not part of the Core Strategy 2010 or Kingston Town Action Plan and no SEA or EqIA has been made available for the council's current Local Plan

Please come along to The Guildhall, Kingston's iconic town centre building, at 19.30 on Tuesday 12 October 2021 to hear Kingston's councillors debate the Council's plans to demolish The Kingfisher Leisure Centre

Thank you

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