Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Naked swimming cancelled in Alton 'without consultation'

Alton Sports Centre Image copyright Sue Paz
Image caption The last nudist swimming session was held at the old Alton Sports Centre facility on Sunday

Naked swimming sessions have been cancelled at a sports centre without consultation, a group of naturists say.

Swimmers who stripped off once a month at Alton Sports Centre have been told a new replacement building cannot host the sessions as its pool is overlooked.

Julian, who did not give his last name, said members were "dismayed".

East Hampshire District Council, which owns the building, said the naturists had been invited "to share their views during the planning process".

Everyone Active, which manages the facility, has apologised to those affected.

The new centre on Chawton Park Road opens on Saturday.

Julian, who had attended the sessions for the past three years with a group of about 34 others, said he believed they were first held at the centre in the 1990s.

He said those who had attended the final session on Sunday "were very dismayed indeed" by the decision.

He accused the centre's management of "not engaging with or discussing the issue in any way with the naturist users of the sports centre during the construction of the replacement building".

'Too many windows'

The council initially said the decision was outside its remit as it had only been required to consult on the facilities the new building would include and not what classes they would host.

But in a later statement it said: "Whilst we haven't consulted with the naturist group directly, they were given the opportunity to share their views during the planning process.

"We held a number of public forums during the consultation which the general public and local clubs were invited to attend."

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In a statement, Everyone Active duplicated information written in a letter from the centre's general manager, Kevin Wallace, to customers ahead of the sessions being scrapped.

"The new centre has been built to Sport England specification in such a way to showcase all areas of the building," David Lowe from the firm said.

He added the sessions had to be cancelled as the new building included "a substantial amount of glazing", including "floor to ceiling" windows along two sides of the main pool, making it visible from the cafe, reception, climbing and soft play areas.

"Efforts were made to source alternative venues and the club are still welcome to utilise all facilities at the new Alton Sports Centre, including swim sessions under our company clothing policy," he continued.

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