FAQs

Below you can see the responses to some of the most frequently asked questions.

Thank you to everyone who has engaged with us so far around our plans to build a new community leisure centre and the wider Transform Kingston programme.

Your feedback in March and April this year was invaluable and helped to shape our proposals. To learn more about how, click here.

We have set out below answers to the questions which have come up most frequently during our public engagement to date. We will keep this updated over the coming months.

If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact us at transformkingston@kingston.gov.uk.

GENERAL

1. Why was the Kingfisher Leisure Centre closed in the first place?
  • The Kingfisher has been closed since 2019, when it was identified that urgent repairs were needed to the roof. We did not take this decision lightly, but the building was deemed unsafe, and we had no choice but to close it immediately.
  • As we investigated in more detail, it became clear that the works required to make the centre safe to use were far more extensive than initially thought, and these would not significantly improve the accessibility, sustainability, or quality of the building.
2. Why can’t the roof of the Kingfisher just be fixed?
  • We carefully considered our options – either replacing the roof or building a new leisure centre. Repairing the roof – estimated to cost at least £5m – didn’t make financial sense.
  • The Kingfisher was built in 1984 and an official report back in 2016 had told us that the building was coming to the end of its lifespan. Given the building’s age, this predicted £5m cost might well have risen significantly. It would also have been extremely short-sighted to spend millions of pounds repairing an old building that was likely to require further repair or closure in a few years.
  • Therefore, we decided that a new leisure centre would be the best option financially as well as offering residents a fantastic new facility that is substantially more accessible and sustainably built.
3. Why do the sites need to be redeveloped?
  • The Cattle Market car park and Kingfisher Leisure Centre sites were previously identified as areas for development during the council’s ‘Call for Sites’ consultation in 2017, in preparation for the Local Plan.
  • They are central to the council’s vision to renewing our historic town centre, making it better for all who use it and helping diversify our local economy.
4. Are there listed buildings on or near the sites?
  • Yes, both the Kingston Museum and Library are listed buildings and will be taken into close consideration as we develop our proposals for the sites.
5. Are the sites located in or near to conservation areas and local community assets?
  • The Kingfisher Leisure Centre and Cattle Market car park are situated in the Fairfield/Knights Park Conservation Area.

The Kingfisher Site

1. What facilities will be in the new leisure centre?
  • We designed the mix of uses based on your feedback in our listening exercise, which took place in March and April 2021. Based on your feedback, we already know that the new leisure building will have a swimming and teaching pool, as well as a range of other fitness and leisure facilities, including:
    • A 25m swimming pool and teaching pool
    • Health and fitness gym
    • Spin studio and other fitness studios
    • Sports hall
    • Squash courts
    • Soft play
    • Clip and climb
    • A ‘splash deck’ for children’s water play
    • Flexible spaces that could be used for community activities
    • Café
    • Sauna and steam rooms
2. What activities will the leisure centre provide for children and young people?
  • We want this to be a destination for all ages, and based on your feedback, we are proposing to include activities for children such as clip and climb, soft play, a teaching pool which will be suitable for children’s play via inflatables and other activities as well as for swimming lessons, a toddler pool, and a new outdoor play area. We are committed to providing a balanced centre that delivers the same level of fun of the Kingfisher with world class competitive and educational facilities.
  • We are also looking to create a range of sports and leisure facilities which could be enjoyed by people of all ages. These would include things like a modern gym, spinning studios, fitness studios, a sports hall that could accommodate sports like basketball, badminton and tennis, and social areas like cafes and outdoor green spaces.
3. Will there be a slide in the pool, like the one in the old Kingfisher?
  • In response to feedback from our first phase of engagement, the swimming pools provided in the new facility will focus on competitive and lane swimming, and swimming lessons in the teaching pool.
  • However, we are going to include a toddler pool which includes play equipment for young children, designed to get them used to getting their face wet and learning to enjoy playing and being in the water. You can see images of what this might look like on our News page [LINK].
  • The teaching pool will also be flexible and could accommodate inflatable ‘islands’ or other activities for children of all ages to enjoy.
4. Will the new leisure centre provide access for disabled people in the local area?
  • Yes, a range of facilities are being proposed in the new leisure destination to ensure that it is inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities. We acknowledge that the Kingfisher was not optimal for people with disabilities and making the new centre fully accessible is a key priority.
  • To learn more about the proposed accessibility features, please navigate to the Proposals section of this website, and click the ‘Accessibility’ tab. We will also provide more information on our accessibility features in our November 2021 engagement.
  • We would welcome any comments or feedback people with disabilities have about their experience accessing other buildings in Kingston and how we can make the new buildings as accessible as possible.
5. How many pools will be delivered in the new centre and how wide/deep will they be?
  •  There will be three pools provided. The first will be a 25m pool with eight lanes, suitable for leisure and competitive swimming. There will also be a 20m x 10m teaching pool suitable for swimming lessons. Finally, there will be a small ‘toddler pool’ for young children to play in, becoming acclimatised to water at a young age.
  • We have explored the option of delivering a 50m pool, but this would be impossible given the physical constraints of the site. It is also important to note that the size of the pool is based on a strategic need that fits the current facilities planning model framework from Sport England and Swim England.
  • The 25m length meets Regional Short Course standards for competitive swimming and also provides an enhanced offer for swimming lessons.
6. Why isn’t there a hydrotherapy pool?
  • Due to the nature of the site, the importance of the surrounding open space and the proximity to the London Plane trees, it is not possible to extend the footprint of the building any further to accommodate another pool. A hydrotherapy pool would be a specialist provision with a specific use, and would not provide the flexibility the other pool areas offer. The two main swimming pools included within the proposals will have floating floors allowing the depth of the pools to be adapted to suit a range of activities such as water aerobics or dedicated children’s swimming lessons.
  • Like a hydrotherapy pool, the temperature of the water in both the competition pool and training pool will be able to change, with the former reaching 28/29 degrees and the latter 31/32 degrees. While we recognise this does not reach the warmth of a hydrotherapy pool at 35 degrees, both pools still allow for water-based exercise with easy access and adjustable water level. This would of course have to be aligned to the programme of events the operator brings forward.
7. Will the new leisure centre be affordable?
  • The centre will remain council-owned and we are firmly committed to keeping prices as low as possible, whilst still ensuring the facility offers value for money to taxpayers.
8. There are some facilities which residents asked for during our survey earlier this year which we could not accommodate. We have set out why this was the case for the most requested facilities that we were not able to include.

We have designed the mix of facilities in response to community feedback and that is why we have prioritised the swimming pools, sports facilities and family-friendly activities which will make up the new community leisure centre.

 

FACILITY

EXPLANATION

Lido

There is no room on this site for an outdoor pool. We are, however, providing two new swimming pools, including a 25m pool suitable for both lane swimming and competitive swim galas.

Skate Park

This is a large, specialist facility which could not be provided here alongside the other mix of leisure and community facilities.

Ice-skating

This is a large, specialist facility which could not be provided here alongside the other mix of leisure and community facilities.

Diving

To ensure the safety of people using the swimming pools, we cannot easily provide diving facilities in the same pool as lane swimming or teaching space. Diving pools also require deeper water.

We have chosen to prioritise lane swimming and a teaching pool in response to the community feedback which demonstrated significant demand for a new swimming and teaching pool.

Adult education

There will be a flexible community room provided within the new centre which would be suitable for adult education classes, amongst other uses. Additionally, our studio spaces are being fitted out to be flexible and suitable for non-sport uses alongside their core use as exercise studios.

How these are used is of course dependent on the programme of activities when the centre opens but our ambition is that the facilities provided will be suitable for adult education – for example, we are ensuring the studios can easily be converted for classroom use by providing IT infrastructure.

9. How will you ensure this is a truly sustainable development?

We have designed the mix of facilities in response to community feedback and that is why we have prioritised the swimming pools, sports facilities and family-friendly activities which will make up the new community leisure centre.

 

  • The current Kingfisher building is not very sustainable and performed poorly in terms of sustainability and energy efficiency. This was a key driver in our wish to redevelop it. Our new proposals will significantly improve the environmental performance and we are exploring ways to make this a genuinely sustainable development, fit for the future.
  • The new community leisure focussed building for the borough will be exemplary in design and at the cutting edge in terms of sustainability.
  • We will be targeting BREEAM ‘Excellent’ and intend to achieve this using a range of sustainability measures such as: grey water recycling, renewable energy sources, high-quality insulation to prevent energy loss, brown and green roofs, a biodiversity strategy and the provision of good pedestrian and cycle routes and cycle storage.
  • To learn more, please navigate to the Proposals section of this website, and click the ‘Sustainability’ tab
10. Will you provide a permanent home for the History Centre within the new development on the site of the Kingfisher Leisure Centre?
  • The council is currently exploring options for the History Centre, considering how we can better integrate it with our wider heritage, culture and leisure offer, and make it more accessible to our communities. Given the proximity of the Kingfisher site to the historic Library and Museum complex, there is now an opportunity to create a ‘cultural destination’ for residents and visitors. We are beginning to think about how this could work alongside delivering the brand-new pool and sports facilities which the community told us they wanted here during our listening phase in early 2021.
  • This is one of several options the council is exploring. We plan to engage with the community, especially those who use the History Centre, and key stakeholders shortly to hear from you about what you think the council can do to improve the heritage offer going forward.
11. Are you planning to redevelop Kingston Museum and Library as part of the proposals to create a new leisure centre?
  • No, but our plans seek to enhance and protect the historical merit of the Kingston Museum and Library by improving the public realm around these important buildings.

The Cattle Market Site

1. Do you have any specific proposals for the Cattle Market site?
  • We are at the early stages of considering what we might deliver on the site of the Cattle Market car park. We are exploring a number of which include new office spaces, open spaces and housing (both private and affordable).
  • We do believe that this site presents an opportunity to deliver much-needed new town centre homes, particularly affordable homes, potentially alongside a mix of commercial uses. It is a brownfield site, avoiding development on green belt and Metropolitan Open Land, it is close to public transport, which is good for the environment, enabling people to live sustainably and car-free.
  • We will provide additional information about what we might develop on this site in our November 2021 engagement, and later bring forward detailed proposals for your feedback in 2022 before submitting a separate planning application for this site.
2. What will happen to the Monday Market if you redevelop the Cattle Market?
  • We are currently considering options for transforming the Monday Market, which currently takes place at the Cattle Market, into an open-air street market in a nearby location, for example on Old London Road.
  • We will be engaging with market traders and the wider community about the future of the Monday Market.
3. Are you planning to invest in Fairfield Bus Station as part of the proposals?
  • Preliminary discussions have been held with Transport for London about including Fairfield Bus Station in the wider redevelopment of Cattle Market car park.
  • These discussions are at a very early stage and any development on the bus station site is ultimately a decision for TfL.

The Guildhall Complex

1. Are you planning to demolish the Guildhall?
  • The Guildhall is an iconic, historic and Grade II Listed building, which we are committed to protecting – whatever we deliver here will need to put our rich heritage at its heart.
2. When will you tell us what your plans are for the Guildhall?
  • Plans for the Guildhall complex sites are still at an early stage. We will be bringing these forward for your feedback in 2022 and will provide a range of opportunities for you to have your say on what could be delivered there.
  • We are still working up proposals for what could be delivered on the site of the Guildhall complex. Whatever we deliver here, we fully intend to retain the listed Guildhall building, and preserve it for future generations to enjoy.
  • During our listening exercise in March and April 2021, you gave us valuable feedback and suggestions about how to transform the Guildhall complex to deliver a mix of uses that better serves Kingston. We will be coming back to our communities in the coming months with concept designs and early plans for the Guildhall complex site, and you will have a number of opportunities to help us to shape these plans.
3. Are you going to turn the Guildhall into a hotel?
  • We can confirm that one of the options currently being considered for the Guildhall is to repurpose it into a boutique hotel. This has not yet been finally decided and there will be extensive consultation around any plans for this site.
4. Will we still be able to access the Guildhall building once you have repurposed it?
  • We intend to ensure public access to the Guildhall is maintained, whatever we decide to deliver here. At present, a very small number of people actually use the Guildhall, predominantly local councillors and council staff. We hope that by repurposing it, we will create something which Kingston residents can use and enjoy.
5. In your recent engagement, you told us that you will be investing in the wider Guildhall complex. Can you provide a bit more information on which parts of the complex this will include?
  • In addition to the Guildhall building itself, we are also looking to regenerate ‘Guildhall 1’ located off St James’s Road, and ‘Guildhall 2’, which runs along Kingston Hall Road.
  • These sites would be suitable for a mix of residential and commercial uses.