Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Loampit Pool: ground floor with windows

Further to the questions I asked yesterday, I've had a reply back from the council officer responsible for overseeing the pool project. Pasted below FYI:

1. Please can you confirm whether the plans are for the pool to be in the basement or on the first floor.
The new pool has not yet been designed. However, the brief includes a requirement that it should be at ground floor with level access.

2 Will it have windows?
The brief requires that the pool should be glazed in accordance with standards for pools regarding water surface glare. The solution will therefore be similar to Downham Lifestyles and other modern pools. The purpose of the Allies and Morrison report was to provide a diagram of how the site could be arranged and an indication of the capacity of the site. It was intended as a technical document for use by architects when they come to the final design. They were also asked to produce an indicative sketch and, unfortunately, it is this sketch that has been misinterpreted as a "design". If we do proceed with this site then the final design is unlikely to look anything like the A&M sketch, especially in view of the negative feedback.

3. Health spa - please can you provide more details of the spec. for this. ie will there be a replacement for the much loved Turkish baths, as well as a sauna, steam room etc?
The brief for the health spa is 3 treatment rooms, a steam room and a Sauna as well as a reception area. It must be DDA compliant.

4. A number of residents have expressed concern over the loss of diving facilities. Please can you outline the reasons behind this.
Diving and swimming in a shared pool creates a conflict of uses. This results in management and supervision problems. A shallower pool is safer for swimmers and provides better visibility for lifeguards. The limited demand for diving facilities suggests that it can be dealt with on a sub regional rather than local basis and this requirement is met at Crystal Palace.

5. Please can you provide a more detailed breakdown of the costs given in the table on p5 of the report to Mayor & Cabinet on 16 May 2007 – what does refurbishment include? Can you confirm that the cost of asbestos removal has been subtracted from this, for example? Does it include any new provision/buildings at Ladywell, or purely refurbishing the existing facilities?
The cost estimate provided in the M&C report was based on a cost study carried out in 2000 and that would address the key condition and suitability work required, at the time the estimated cost was £9.5m. In 2002 the Centre was closed following the identification of asbestos in the ceiling areas. The work then undertaken involved the removal of asbestos from the ceilings, public areas and ductwork and other work to the plant including concrete repairs. The site re-opened in 2004. This work was sufficient to deal with risks related to asbestos but did little to address the refurbishment needs of the building.

6. At the Overview & Scrutiny business panel mtg to consider the Loampit Vale report, the officer said that the new pool will be a zero carbon building. Can you confirm that this will indeed be the case and if so, how will that be achieved?
The brief for the new pool, along with the proposed adjoining residential development, is an aim to have zero carbon emissions. This would be achieved by a combination of low energy demand design (insulation, ventilation, etc) and a single energy source that exploits the balanced energy demands between the pool and the housing. If the energy is generated on site then the fuel source would need to be bio diesel and / or woodchips. Electricity generation would from a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) boiler or wind turbines or solar panels. If it is decided to proceed with a new pool at Loampit Vale this will be reported on in more detail when considering the developer submissions. It is difficult to provide figures prior to this more detailed report but it is an issue that will be addressed.

7. The M&C report says that there will be 250 spectator seats alongside the new pool. How does this compare with the provision at the existing pool?
The existing pool has 520 seats. The new pool brief is for 250 seats is the result of the leisure needs report.

8. How will the pool be financed? Receipts from the sale of Aragon Tower, Loampit Vale developers contributions, the sale of Ladywell Leisure Centre site? Can you confirm how much you estimate the new pool will cost the borough, where this money will come from and what any leftover money from the Aragon Tower sale and the anticipated sale of the Ladywell site will be used for? Could the developers subsidising the pool mean that we ultimately get a lower percentage of affordable housing in the development?
The new pool will be funded from a combination of an allocation in the capital programme (part of the Aragon receipt) and the developer's own funds. It would form part of the developers payment for the Council's land. There remains an aim to achieve a level of affordable housing in accordance with the UDP (35%). Details of this are commercially sensitive and if we proceed with a new pool this will be reported to the Mayor on part 2 of the agenda. Any capital surplus will go back into the capital programme.

9. I have assured residents that all views will be noted in the report that the goes to M&C, and that the consultants are recording all comments, including those who ask for refurbishment. Please can you confirm that this is still the case.
The report to M&C on the consultation will include feedback from consultees who expressed the view that Ladywell should be refurbished. The results of the Consultation are likely to be reported to Mayor & Cabinet on 17 July 2007.

I asked one more question that I expect will take a bit longer to respond to:
Residents are unconvinced when I suggest that in this case a new build could be more energy efficient than refurbishment. It would be v useful if you could provide further information about the approximate annual carbon emissions and energy usage at Ladywell and how the new pool would compare to this (including construction – ie carbon used in concrete production, construction transport costs etc). What will the payback period be before the new pool becomes 'greener' than keeping the existing one?

Thanks for the comments on my previous post on this topic, I suspect this may prompt more. I'm a bit tired to comment in much more detail now, but I am increasingly inclined to support the proposals for a new pool at Loampit.

7 comments:

max said...

Very interesting.

A few points:

- (1) Good.

- (2) I'm pleased that the negative feedback on the feasibility study has produced a determination to provide windows. It follows that if no negative feedback was provided a degree of risk of having no windows would have occured. There remain to see how the layout of the block can be modified to move the pool out of the pit that the feasibility study put it.

- (4)"A shallower pool is safer for swimmers"
Well, this comments itself.

- (4) "The limited demand for diving facilities suggests that it can be dealt with on a sub regional rather than local basis and this requirement is met at Crystal Palace."
A comfortable assumption and a self-fulfilling prophecy. Although there is no study about this there is evidence that the presence of diving greatly increases the amount of young people that use the pool.

- On the point about the works carried in conjunction with the removal of asbestos (point 5), there is a detailed list of what was done and how much was spent. It was in excess of £1.4m of refurbishment on top of the cost for the removal of asbestos. The pool room ceiling is a highly visible product of the refurbishment, the £150k spent on the heating plant a less visible but no less an improvement. It is disingenuous to believe that such a vague statement as that one produced in the answer was designed in order to clarify anything.

-"7. The M&C report says that there will be 250 spectator seats alongside the new pool. How does this compare with the provision at the existing pool?

The existing pool has 520 seats. The new pool brief is for 250 seats is the result of the leisure needs report."
I could not believe this when I read it, in fact it is not true. The Leisure Needs Analysis specifies 150 seats as "a minimum".
I know as a fact that the club asked the Council to maintain the same level of seats.
By the way, the Mayor and Cabinet report of 16th May negates the existence of a Leisure Needs Analysis altogether. I'm surprised to see such a junk paper springing back to life and being used to jsutify decisions.

- (8) "Any capital surplus will go back into the capital programme"

So, if they foresee the possibility of a profit after having provided 35% affordable housing it means that they can increase the specifications of the pool. The Leisure Needs Analysis is a botched job and it does underestimate usage levels. Let's push for more so that those that don't see much of a profit in trading in Ladywell Pool for Loampit Vale can support it too.

- As for the views of those that would rather keep Ladywell Pool, I'm pleased that they will be reported but the problem here is the purpose of this consultation. What was this for?
Was it anything else than a red-herring to avoid speaking of the poor specifications planned for Loampit Vale? Was it done for legal reasons? Was it to make sure that Ladywell won't be refurbished?
Whatever the reason it wasn't for hearing the views of the residents.
The Mayor affirmed his intention to go for Loampit Vale time and time again, last time he did it was when he approved of the consultation. I think that it was even in his manifesto. This consultation didn't need to happen. £20k down the drain.

Andrew Brown said...

Can't help but laugh at Max's take on the windows thing.

Only a few days ago it was gospel truth that there could be no windows without a major redesign, and now it's a victory for the campaign!

It certainly doesn't follow - for me at least - that the issue of windows has ever hinged on the amount of "negative feedback".

Emmeline said...

Max's take on the diving also raised a smile. Surely a shallower, safer pool, dedicated to swimmers, will be better for all those users from Ladywell hospital with mobility problems he campaigns for so vigorously?!

Also just on the refurbishment issue. I don't think this is a 'phoney consultation' as Max's latest posters declare. I think the council has made the right decision to rule this out on cost grounds. You never know what you will find when you start work on old buildings and there is a good chance the costs will spiral out of control and mean other vital council services are compromised. We have a brand new secondary school to build, hundreds of council homes to modernise and improve, voluntary and community groups to support - just a few examples.

Plus we have this once in a generation chance to sort out swimming provision in this part of Lewisham. A brand new pool, with the majority of facilities the local community wants, in the best location for pool users is what I'm after.

max said...

In fact it will take a major redesign to bring the pool out of the pit so that any windows would not face a wall.
Let's not forget that Allies and Morrisons is a very good architectural company and if they put it there they must have had a reason and the reason must be in the financial brief. It's obvious that any major change to that design cost major money and if pressure was not put it might just not have happened.

Knit Nurse said...

Emmeline, you only have to look at the saga of Clissold Pool in Hackney to realise that building a new facility is not always a cost-effective and failsafe solution. Thorough structural investigations and effective project management are what is needed whether it is a new project or a refurbishment.

In terms of location, many of the residents around Loampit Vale will be within easy distance of the new Wavelengths pool when it opens so their needs are already being addressed.

Andrew; I'm sure you'll be familiar with Max's technique, I think it's called 'spin' ;-)

max said...

Dear Emmeline (Mayor's line?),

you say "Max's take on the diving also raised a smile. Surely a shallower, safer pool, dedicated to swimmers, will be better for all those users from Ladywell hospital with mobility problems he campaigns for so vigorously?!"

This comment of yours does not raise a smile in me in more ways than one.
First that you pretend to not knowing that a pool has a deep end a shallow end.
So, I'll do the same and pretend that I believe that you don't know how a swimming pool is made, here's the news for you, a swimming pool has two ends, a deep one where you dive and a shallow one where you don't (apart from Steve Bullock's photo opportunities http://tinyurl.com/2bfjvs ).
In fact almost all accidents classified as diving accidents happen at the shallow end and a shallower deep end is more dangerous than a deeper one.
Diving is a sport that used to be popular until mean politicians starting bringing up phoney arguments to cut on the size of pools by reducing the deep end.

The second part of your comment that does not raise a smile in me is the reference to the disabled. I'm not going to start being a hypocrite now, I find it completely distasteful. First because you use the disabled argument in a completely distorted way that goes against the interests of those disabled that you mention and secondly because it happens that the campaign that I lead includes many disabled people that therefore represent themselves, I'm not vigorously campaigning in defense of a group that doesn't ask for it.

Your second paragraph bundles in all the possible Council propaganda and looks actually written by the Council. Why not use your name, sign it so we know who's writing.
I quote you:
"You never know what you will find when you start work on old buildings and there is a good chance the costs will spiral out of control and mean other vital council services are compromised"

It happens that Ladywell Pool has just undergone refurbishment and that the building is known down to the cavity walls but of course you don't know that. Do you?

"We have a brand new secondary school to build, hundreds of council homes to modernise and improve, voluntary and community groups to support - just a few examples."

Oh what a pile of piffle!
Yes, all this stuff is paid by our tax money!
Like the £150k that last year the Council spent on meeting rooms for away days at a Bromley Hotel? And the £40k that the Council pays yearly to the management at Ladywell to keep the sauna and turkish bath closed? And the £2m that the Council was forced to cough up when closing the Downham deal because they had awarded the contract before resolving the details of it? And the £1m spent in consultancy to be able to close that deal in the first place because they can't even understand their own contracts if they don't pay somebody to read it for them? The list is endless.

You can't be serious when you write this. I'm sorry, I don't believe you.

As for this consultation it was a blatant misuse of public money. £20k spent for nothing. If Bullock wants to build a new pool that's better than Ladywell then he can just get on and do it and do it well.
This consultation was just a red herring to have us speaking about the complete nonsense that the choice given is and not look at the poor plan for the new pool that does not address the needs of the area but only those of a part of the population, leaving out of the equation much of the potential use and that will be the regular swimmers of Ladywell that will find themselves in competition with many more new swimmers in a pool not adequately sized.

Then you close:
"Plus we have this once in a generation chance to sort out swimming provision in this part of Lewisham. A brand new pool, with the majority of facilities the local community wants, in the best location for pool users is what I'm after."

Yes, we have this chance and we're wasting it because of the complacency of the Mayor that is not able to live up to his office.

Andrew Brown said...

Spin... no doesn't ring any bells here... oh hang on...

But, getting caught... now you'd never see that happening to me would you? ;-)