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21 June 2008

11th June Pools Stakeholders Meeting

Below are notes taken by representatives from the Forest Hill Society and Sydenham Society at the recent stakeholders meeting regarding Forest Hill Pool:

Councillor Chris Best (Chair) opened the meeting addressing both Sydenham and Forest Hill Societies indicating Lewisham Council's displeasure at misinformation on both town websites and stating that Lewisham Council was committed to no decision to demolish present Victorian buildings until initial design work for a rebuild had been agreed by Mayor and Cabinet – at the end of the meeting it was agreed that the earliest likely decision would not be taken until the September Mayor and Cabinet meeting.

A representative from HLM architects was introduced and he ran through the process that HLM had used for designing a new pools/leisure centre at Forest Hill.

HLM’s intentions were to create a sense of place respecting the Library setting and the relationship any new building would have on the Library. This would be a high visibility site and sensitivity would be required. They were aware of the historic importance of the site.

The presentation of the three options began with a statement about commonality. The entrance of all options would face the Town centre, not Dartmouth Road and there would be an approach cut through the grass area in front of Salcombe House to form a green linear path. There would be a public amenity space/square in front of the entrance. The service strategy for the pools would be from Thorpewood Avenue.

Option 1
  • one 25 m pool, no housing
  • gym
  • 2 fitness studios
  • space for a cafe

Option 2
  • 3000 sq m building, 2 storeys
  • 25m pool plus additional training pool
  • gym, 2 fitness studios, space for a cafe
  • new square to station side of building (i.e. opposite side to library)
  • new housing along line of Salcombe House: 25-30 units
  • potential to expand parking underneath

This building would have the main entrance and foyer in the direction of the station, with a green approach and new public space. The frontage would sweep round to end in line with the library. The pools would be at the front of the building, with changing and access to dry facilities kept separate. Although two storeys, it would be low rise and not go above the lines of the existing housing behind in Derby Hill Crescent.

Option 3
  • 3500-4000 sq m leisure/community/library space
  • 25 m and training pools, plus maximum community space
  • gym, 2 fitness studios, space for a cafe etc
  • building form “respects” library
  • “vibrant” public square
  • feature building: "gateway" to Forest Hill
  • potential for sustainable housing and/or mixed housing: 60 units
  • pull-in bus parking along front on Dartmouth Road

This building would have a similar footprint to Option 2, but with several (up to 7) storeys of housing on the Dartmouth Road side over the foyer area. Also significantly increased community space over 2 storeys at the front, with the possibility of another entrance/access to the library at the corner where the two frontages meet.

Discussion:
Housing over the leisure centre foyer: 7 storeys could well be overpowering, the road is fairly narrow there so would impinge uopn the shops and residences opposite. Reply: is intended to be a bit narrow to make a “gateway”. Hilary: but if this is a gateway to Forest Hill it puts the library outside! The building seems to “turn its back” on the library. Other comment: why do we need a gateway? Architects like “iconic” buildings, and there was some discussion as to whether that was what the people of Forest Hill would want. Is 7 storyes too much? Would it make the leisure centre subservient to the residential aspects?

Use of the community space: the architects said they were deliberately being vage and nonprescrpitive about this. The space could contatin what we wanted. Pat Trembath mentioned the need for fairly large meetings rooms in FH. Chris Best agreed we need a room that would accommodate about 100. The studio space might be flexiable, and perhaps could be used for meetings too.

The development partner may want or demand parking, which is why the architects leave open the possibilty of underground parking. Hilary pointed out that this is very expensive, and would affect the finances and be likely to reduce the amount of cross subsidy money available for the leisure centre facilities.

The Tewkesbury Lodge representative said a survey of their residents emphasised the desire for leisure facilities in Forest Hill, we already have a lot of new residential buidlings. Cllr Best explained that building elsewhere in Forest Hill was by private developers, and the the Council needs receipts from building on this site to be able to afford anything more than a very basic building (i.e. Option 1).

Consultation

It was felt important that the recent history of the Pools be included in the information given including the results of the previous consultation, and the surveys. Drawings of the streetscape would need to be included to show how the facade might look, as many FH residents are unhappy about proposed changes to this. A leaflet to all residents explaining the history of the pools and the need to redevelop will be delivered to all households.

Timetable:
  • July – consultation (probably exhibition in the library, public meetings)
  • August – Stakeholder group meet again
  • September – go to Mayor and cabinet – no demolition before this

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