Re-submitted Pool & Track plan ‘would be missed opportunity’
12:33pm Wednesday 4th March 2015 – Waltham Forest E-Guardian
Re-submitted plans for a multi-million pound investment in new sporting facilities will be a ‘wasted’ opportunity, according to campaigners.
Athletes, parents, children, teachers and councillors gathered last night to urge the council to reconsider a proposal for Walthamstow Pool and Track.
The authority and contractors Greenwich Leisure Limited were criticised for deciding not to replace a 5m diving board as part of the £25million scheme in Chingford Road.
In September plans to knock down the existing building and replace it were rejected by the council’s planning committee due to loss of amenity as the diving board, which is said to be vital for training youngsters, would be replaced by a spa and an ‘extreme sports’ arena.
But an application for the same proposal has been made, with the diving board not included.
Campaigners and other clubs say young athletes will also be disadvantaged if the proposal is approved.
A petition calling for further public consultation has been signed by 2,500 people.
Speaking at the Pool & Track last night, Orion Harriers club manager, Jane Farrier, said the planned facility would kill athletics.
A ‘well-used’ strength and conditioning room will be taken away under the new plans.
We were not consulted from day one
They are not integrating this track with the new centre and there are a number of big concerns with the new proposals.
For a start we will now have a safeguarding issue with children having to go right out of our sight to use the toilets and changing rooms.
There will be no track-side first aid.
We have no trust in them whatsoever.
We do not dispute the centre needed to be developed, but the emphasis has been placed on making money not improving what we already have.
We have 400 junior and 350 senior members. None of them were asked.
Is consultation asking people what they want or telling them what they are getting?
Lesley Pearce, the teacher in charge of PE at Parkside School in Chingford, said
There is a desperate need for a large sporting venue for pupils to use.
If the council had consulted primary schools they would know we spend a huge amount of money transporting children to facilities in other boroughs.
With this amount of money they are spending – they have the chance build a major sporting hub and meet the needs of thousands of children.
These plans are not suitable.
Walthamstow resident Amanda Connolly criticised the lack of consultation.
There is no transparency in this project. It should be about investing in the future.
Nobody has a problem with development or enterprise, but we haven’t even been asked what we need.
Green Party candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green, Rebecca Tully, said the council should not expect children to travel to other boroughs for facilities.
There are children having to travel to outside boroughs and are getting home at ten o’clock on a school night. That is not what we want.
Many members of the community in Waltham Forest feel as though they have been ignored.
Jack Byrne, 11, is a member of the diving club. He said:
It’s not just about divers, it’s about swimmers too.
With these plans we can’t use the pool at the same time.
Before I learned to dive I would try the 5m board and it was such a thrill.
I just wanted to do more. If they take it away other children won’t get to experience that.
We don’t need a spa here.
A dedicated planning meeting will be held at Walthamstow Town Hall on Tuesday (March 10).
GLL has not responded to repeated requests for interview from The Guardian.
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