As we reported in January, the architects Roberts Limbrick have been selected as the preferred architects to deliver the detailed design for our swimming pools on Dartmouth Road. This Gloucester-based practice has built Leisure Centres and swimming pools before and is familiar with the engineering and design problems. They presented their thoughts and plans to the stakeholders group and to the Forest Hill Ward Assembly on 1st February.
If you cast your mind way back, you may remember a point when the Council presented us with three design proposals by different architects. The most popular (although we were told at the time it was far too expensive) was from architects Allies and Morrison which proposed a rectangular building with a wave shaped roof. Roberts Limbrick are working with this vision.
They suggest orientating the two pools in the same direction as the current pools but with the changing area in between. This would enable both pools to be lit by natural light from windows along the walls. The teaching pool would be more enclosed with a flexible exercise room above. A gym situated above the changing rooms would get natural light from over the larger pool which would be double height.
There would be two entrances, the current one on Dartmouth Road and another on the side by Kingswear House next to a new cafe. This would lead to a public area or mall behind the cafe and the superintendant’s house. There would be disabled access and coach drop-off in front of the Dartmouth Road entrance. There would also be some disabled parking but no other onsite parking as the site is too small.
The stakeholders and those attending the assembly had a number of questions about the parking, service, safeguarding pedestrians, the material to be used, and environmental issues: some of the roof may be green (sedum or grass), the pools would be covered when not in use to conserve heat, sustainable energy sources have been discussed.
From a visual point of view, the greatest problem is likely to be the relocation of some of the plant to the front of the building over the cafe. The architects will have to work hard to ensure this is not ugly and intrusive next to the Victorian building.
On the positive side, the firm does seem willing to engage with stakeholders and the public and now is the time to make your views heard before planning permission is sought later this year. Do you have a burning issue you would like us to raise? Do you want to be able to watch your kids while they are having lessons? Do you want Unisex changing, or a changing village? Whatever it is, please contact us via the Forest Hill Society.