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28 October 2014

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King's Meadow Swimming Pool
King's Meadow Swimming Pool

Sink or Swim for Pool

By James Burridge
Campaigners are at loggerheads with Reading Borough Council over the plight of the disused King's Meadow swimming pool. The council want to turn it into a luxury complex with hotel and marina. What do you think? Write your comments below.

King's Meadow Swimming Pool
Inside King's Meadow Swimming Pool

It's sink or swim for the plans to redevelop the Kings Meadow Swimming Pool put forward by Reading Borough Council.

The council have liaised with the Environment Agency and a private company called MacLeer and Rush under the Public Private Partnership to build a complex on the old site and the island that includes a hotel, a restaurant, a marina, a boathouse and a maintenance depot.

David Sutton, Leader of Reading Borough Council
Cllr David Sutton, Leader of RBC

Those against the plans include Reading East MP Jane Griffiths, who has taken the issue to Parliament, and at least 2,000 people who have signed a petition. The campaigners say the development will be a blot on the green landscape and that Reading already has enough hotels.
Their idea is to turn the site into a heated outdoor swimming pool in the summer and an ice rink in the winter.

"If the council had five million pounds or six million pounds to spend...I don’t believe we’d be refurbishing this old building."
David Sutton, Leader of Reading Borough Council

The leader of Reading Borough Council David Sutton said: “I will look carefully at the proposals as they come forward”, but added: “If the council had five million pounds or six million pounds to spend on leisure, swimming and on the Thames side, I don’t believe we’d be refurbishing this old building. I don’t believe it would be our priority even if we had the money.”

The council’s main points are that the site is one of the best riverside locations in Reading and that after 30 years of laying to waste the plan put forward is a viable one. The council acknowledges the worry caused by the idea of another hotel being built on the site but state that the idea has been floating around since 2001.

Graphic image of council plans
A graphic of council plans

At the moment these are all just plans, as no planning application has been made yet. Campaigners claim that there hasn't been enough public consultation – but the council disagrees.

last updated: 19/08/04
Have Your Say

Emma Davies
Reading desperately needs more recreational facilities, and the pool/skating proposal is inspired. A simple restaurant/winebar or two on the lock would also be pleasant and recreational. Keep the river beautiful, for pleasure and enjoyment, and hotels and development in the centre and around the Kennet for a balanced, prosperous, future-city which people want to live in.

Rachel Thomas
Please don't let another hotel ruin what is a beauty spot in Reading. It's bad enough that the luxury apartments with the ridiculous blue roof are there already. I want my son to grow up surrounded by history, not by modern monstrosity.Restore it for future generations, don't let greed consume another wonderful building.

Bridget Parslow
I agree we don't need any more hotels - if they need extra funding to be able to achieve the KMC plans how about borrowing a bit of the developers plan by turning all those unused buildings on the lock island into a pub/restaurant or conference facility and leaving our RARE green space alone!

Paul Shepherd
It makes my blood boil! Ive lived in Reading for 50 years and it is the worst served area for leisure around. The council like very much to remove our council taxes! but it has never provided for us especially our children.I have 4 girls and often we have to travel outside the area to use basic facility.Swimming skating etcHow long will it take for these stupid councilors and town planners to realise we do not want more Hotel or flat development i.e on one of the last good green areas along the Thames Reading central!!!This victorian building needs to be restored as it is with may be some modern heating and possibly provide a skating facility in the winter months.Im sure it would be viable as there are very poor services now even if it requires some assistance finacially thats what we pay our local taxes for! So councilors if you want to serve the community do your jobs properly or get out!!!Also lets not forget building inside the flood plain its having devastating effects on the lives of existing property owners within the close proximity of the Thames i.e caversham ,sonning. If they keep tarmacing over these open spaces it puts us all at much more risk.So hear this town planners Do your jobs properly or you will be held responsible!!!!

Kay Smith
i admit something needs to be done however we do not need another hotel, the existing building could look beautiful with some restoration. The town has lost a lot of it's old buildings, please don't loose this one.


Jan Williams nee Lawson
I too spent many chilly hours swimming in that pool until my family moved from Reading in 1961. Thanks to that pool and the indoor pool nearby I went on to international honours with my adopted country of Wales. I hope it won't be lost completely, it had real character.The setting next to the river was glorious. Don't lose it forever.

Sam S
It would be absolutely fantastic if a new outdoor pool was built there.

danii & jo
this is our meadow! stop this nonsense! this the only decent area of green space in Reading and without it there'll be no where to sit and relax on a sunny day. don't build on our memories

A Walker
Typical of the council, all they ever think about is how they can best serve their own interests, it's a case of what's in it for our local businessmen, their the one's in the background pulling the strings. If the truth be known they would have had the swimming pool demolished years ago, it's only the tireless work of conservationists that we have to thank for it's very exisitence. It's time for the people of Reading to say enough is enough we don't want a hotel on our recreatonal area, it is there for our use and pleasure. If you still want a hotel, do it on our terms, not yours and build it on the edge of town.

It's clear that RBC are used to getting its own way over just about everthing, they seem to forget that they are in existence to serve to people of Reading, if a significant number of people want to keep it, it should be kept, no question about it!.

I spent many chilly hours learning to swim at Kings Meadow back in the late 50's and would love to see the pool restored and hopefully remain "outdoor" whilst being heated. So many of the old landmarks have been demolished and forgotten, this project could change that trend and promote healthy exercise at the same time.

Colin Downing

Colleen Thatcher
Whatever the Kings Meadow Baths is turned into eventually, I hope a swimming pool. For goodness sake don't let it look anything like the proposed buildings for Chatham Street, shown in the Reading Evening Post. Have the 'Planners' any concept at all of what the general public think??? We all want buildings to look like buildings (whatever period)not children's play bricks. WE'LL BE A LAUGHING STOCK, You can imagine what the tourists will think. Oh! I'm sorry they are obviously NOT encouraging them!!

SAVE, it brings back memories of learning to swim as a child,and is part of our past,the walks by the river, watching the boats go through the lock is a part of Readind.

Ex Caversham Resident
I lived in Caversham for a couple of years before moving last May. The river is one of the best assets that Reading has. Why allow another building to go up blocking the river views. Is the field not part of the flood plain? A heated outdoor swimming pool/ ice rink would be a great idea. How better to spend a summers day than by the pool (to be fair most people would prefer to swim in a open air pool than either the Thames or in a swimming baths). I come from a town that allowed the 1960s to wipe out what heritage was there. All that exists now are boards with pictures and descriptions of what used to stand in the place where a concrete shopping centre stands. And Reading already has anough of them

Tell me which hotel in Reading for local ratepayers is used by local residents? Why not sell the Civic Offices -that would make a good hotel in the centre of town! Reading already has paid millions for another town hall -Shire Hall.. Keep our park and pool. Send the thieves packing!!

sam huntsmith
please dont let us lose more green field sites anywhere in the world! we need all the trees & green spaces we can get. once gone theyre gone.we want river access,we want the meadow, we dont need another hotel in reading & we definately dont need any more housing development

Brenda McGonigle
I feel very strongly that the few remaining parks and leisure areas in Reading should stay that way. While I feel that the existing building is no longer a viable concern, building a large hotel complex on this site would be a tragic loss to this area of natural beauty. Kings Meadow also floods every year! What is known of the environmental impact?

Gary Campbell, Caversham
I support the plans to reopen the pool. Kings Meadow should remain an open space and be improved as a public facility, not built upon. Why not have some kind of cafe attached to the pool (like by the river in Henley)? This would attract people to the river. I also support the proposed angling centre on view island.

Build on it, it's all well and good saying we'll put up the money now but for the future if it's left to the council, it'll be back in ruins within 10 years and the whole debate will begin again.

M Wright
To those who want the building destroyed because it is an 'eyesore', they obviously don't have the imagination to see what the building would be like cleaned up and refurbished, as an important amenity for the area. Those who claim reading has lost enough history so far are right, as have many other provincial towns and cities, whose councils are just interested in profit and subsequently many areas get overdeveolped with soleless recreational developments. Save the old Pool.

Reading actually has a lot of history and character - you just wouldn't know it in the council's campaign to erase it and transform it into an anonymous provincial city. And what is this obsession with building on floodplains?! They should look up the word 'meadow'!

Anne Jessel
Save the pool and the Meadow for the people of READING, not just for the rich business people.

Like many people I thought that the old building at Kings Meadow was a changing room. Also like them I was amazed to learn that it is actually an Edwardian swimming pool and that the council had left something of historic value still standing in a town that has had its heritage brutally mishandled. Caring for our past could help to give Reading a sense of character that it sorely needs and might make it more tourist attractive as well.

C Staines
Having heard and read comments from both the council and the campaigners I have come to the conclusion that the council are not to be trusted. The council seems to be twisting the truth to suit itself and to try and save face now that the development plans have sunk. I just don't believe what they say any longer.

It disturbs me that anyone should support the hotel development at Kings Meadow. The development would be for an elitist few rather than the community and it was to the latter that the land was gifted in the first place. Anyone who believes that the council are being upfront about their full plans for the sight is being naive. A two hundred room hotel legally requires a parking space for each room, that’s a lot of land. Plus the council would not stop at this one development, when it was finished they would just move on to the next part of Kings Meadow and continue developing until there was nothing left to sell off.

As this is part of our Reading history, why do we want to tear it down? Can we not include it into a new development instead of throwing away our heritage. Its funny as I thought that this building was changing rooms for the sports ground adjacent until I read about it in the paper / web-site. I personally think that it looks like a pretty cool place / building if it could be refurbished and included into the redevelopment.

Build on it - the only people that want it kept are old people who seem to think they can re-live their youth by looking at it, they probably would never use it even if it was restored. they've got by without the pool for the past 25 years, and if they need a pool that badly maybe they can use the hotel pool. the river badly needs more restaurants and bars to make full use of it.

I think they should build the hotel as this area, as it stands, looks awful. It is a derelict quiet site which only encourages crime whether it is graffiti or drugs! Murkey places like this do need clearing up and sorting out and if that means building a hotel on it then so be it! It will keep the criminals and druggies away!

Rob, Caversham
I'm delighted that it looks like this area is going to be redeveloped. Caversham lock must be the ugliest lock on the entire river Thames. I welcome any scheme to breathe some life into this part of town and as long as they don't concrete the whole meadow then this looks like the perfect opportunity to finally make something of the Thames in Reading.

Graham Holdsworth
I work very near to the baths and find the area a pleasant escape from the office. Limited development of the waterfront in this location would be welcomed yet if development is anything like similar projects in this area i'd rather be looking at the old baths.

There's enough building work gone on in that area recently with the hideous flats they've put in further along the meadow. Part of the attraction for me leaving in Caversham is being near to open places such as this - to build a hotel and yet more overprice, executive apartments would be a loss to the people of Reading

Gascoigne, Caversham
Build the hotel! The pool has sat there unused for 30 years whilst the building is just covered in graffiti, urine and surrounded by litter, shopping trolleys, old mattresses etc. There needs to be controlled sensible developments - we don't want the whole riverbank concreted over - but the town should make more of the riverside. Where are the bars and restaurants along the river? There are hardly any riverside bars or restaurants - a new development brining in revenue to the local economy is just what is needed.....Whoever wants an outdoor pool to be used for 3 weeks of the year should club together and find the £6m needed!

S Kean
Let it go - it's hardly any use to anyone in the state it's in and even if refurbished it's unlikely to be very well used. Surely housing and nice surroundings would be more beneficial to the area.

Andy Barry Reading
From what I have seen of the plan's I think its a great idea, the pool as it is is a mess and a blot on the landscape and has been for many years. Now that somebody has come up with an idea for the area some locals have decided that Reading can't do without the pool when infact it has been not used for 30 years!! Even if restored realistically how much will it be used judging by the summer we have just had. In my opinion also Reading does not make enough of the Thames so this plan would certainly help.

Rosemary Clutterham
I lived in Caversham for 25 years and spent many happy times at this beautiful location by the Thames. The area should not be built upon at all and should be left alone for the public to enjoy. At the rate Reading is being concreted over this will be one of the very few green areas left for residents to use.

If the campaigners are so intent on keeping the eyesore then pay for the upgrades themselves - it is an excuse because they don't want the hotel - why has no one bothered before!-The sums required would be better spent improving existing facilities in Reading. From memory wasn't the pool shut due to bacteria being found in the water. Jane Griffiths is just trying to raise her profile

Nick Hadley
A hotel is not what Reading needs the most. It needs more recreational facilities, and it would be a shame if Reading council just looked at the profit margin.

Chris Frenzel
More hotels? what on earth for? The people of reading, I think not. The only time the developers will stop is when there is nothing left for them to profit out of. Think I'm joking well just sit back and watch, it's already happening all around you.

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