Don’t save Ladywell Pool!

We’re anticipating that this may not be a very popular position…

As the Save Ladywell Pool campaigners admit, their bid to stop the Council shutting the pool before a replacement has been built has now been won. It’s our understanding that that in no circumstances will the Council shut Ladywell until an alternative at Loampit Vale (next to Lewisham Station) has been built. Great.

The original aims of the campaign were very sensible. Lewisham is already poorly served with community pools, compared with, for example, Greenwich. With Forest Hill closed until an unspecified point in the future and Wavelengths undergoing major works, closing the pool for a period of several years would have been a travesty.

However, that argument having been won, the campaigners have branched out…

"Unfortunately the Council has now come public with the plan for the Leisure Centre that is supposed to replace Ladywell Pool in a few years time and this plan is unacceptably poor.
We are now fighting for a decent centre to replace Ladywell Pool. With the current offer we are better off with Ladywell."

Maddeningly, though, they don’t specify what their objections are, and the website is so dense with links and information, that, it's impossible to actually find anything - if greater detail of their concerns is provided, we’ve not found it.

What we do know is that what the Council is promising is as follows:

The proposals for Loampit Vale are to provide a new:

8 lane 25 metre competition pool
20 metre teaching pool with moveable floor
Dance, exercise and aerobics studio
100 station fitness suite
Health spa

Brockley Central has nothing against Ladywell Pool, but neither does it hold it in much affection – our childhood memories having been scarred by trips there to compete for our swimming club and generally being on the losing side.

The centre itself seemed pretty shabby 25 years ago and time has been even less kind to it than it has to our speedo-physique. The pool is still impressive but as a whole it doesn’t meet modern standards and doesn’t offer the kind of multi-sport, mixed-use experience which is widely recognised as being the key to successful community leisure centres. In short, it’s a bit grim.

Of course, Ladywell has its regular users who enjoy it, but the most powerful argument on the side of the campaigners has always been that Lewisham should seek to widen community sport participation. That being the case, then sentiment has to make way for progress and we have to build a centre that will appeal to young people and the wider public who don’t fancy a trip to Ladywell’s dank changing rooms.

The Council presents a convincing case that refurbishment of Ladywell is not economically efficient over the long-term. It seems that energy would be better spent They also make the very sensible point that Loampit Vale is far-more accessible for the majority of Lewisham people:

“Although the transport links at Ladywell are good, those at Loampit Vale are much better providing a variety of choice. There are 9 bus routes (2 at night) to Ladywell compared to 25 (4 at night) to Lewisham town centre. 10 trains a hour stop at Ladywell at peak compared to 25 at Lewisham. In addition the DLR terminates at Lewisham with at peak 20 trains an hour. The site is also on the Waterlink Way providing good access for walkers and cyclists.”

Given these arguments, the planned facilities already represent an improvement on Ladywell. To say that Ladywell should stay open in preference to what’s on offer, sounds wrong. although of course, it would be great if a way could be found to include diving or squash facilities at Loampit Vale, for example.

We’d welcome a contribution from a campaigner against the Loampit Vale scheme, to better-understand their current objections.

A consultation period is currently under way.