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 earlier this year was invaluable and helped shape our proposals. To learn more, please see our the results from our listening exercise, our early proposals and our latest proposals.

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.

Provide feedback on our proposals  by taking part in our public survey until the 31st December here or if you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact us at transformkingston@kingston.gov.uk.

You can provide feedback on the latest proposals by taking part in our public survey which will remain open until 31st December or, if you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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. 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.
7. 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.

8. 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
9. 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 earlier this year.

  • 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 to hear from you about what you think the council can do to improve the heritage offer going forward.

10. Are you planning to redevelop Kingston Museum and Library as part of the proposals to create a new leisure centre?
  • We will not be redeveloping the Museum and Library. However, our plans have been designed to bring more people to our cherished heritage assets by integrating them better into our evolving town centre.
  • We will do this by creating a new pedestrian route between the Library and Museum buildings and the new leisure centre, connecting a public square at the north of the museum to the Fairfield Recreation Ground to the south. This new route will be animated by the new public foyer and café which will open up and allow people to spill out into the public areas. This will allow for an appreciation of the eastern side of the listed library, improving and enhancing its setting, whilst allowing a visual connection through the new building foyer and into the pool halls. 
  • The museum building will also benefit from a new addition to its eastern side, allowing for a visual interaction with the public areas and new leisure centre.  Our desire is to create a new cultural destination within the town, using the public realm and the architectural design to link all three buildings, allowing each to benefit from people wishing to explore all the site has to offer.

Accessibility and Inclusivity

1. Swimming pools

Will there be step-free access to both swimming pools?

Yes – there will be several options for step-free access;  hoists, designed for people with upper body limited mobility, a pool pod equipped with a waterproof wheelchair which lower people into the pool and   floating floors which allow the floors to be brought up for level access into the pool.

How will the hoists and pool pods be managed?

These will be managed by the centre management team, who will be appointed by the centre operator when they are in place.

Will the hoists take people direct from the changing room to the pool, avoiding the need to transfer into and out of a chair which could then get wet?

No, the hoist is mounted into a socket on the pool surround – there will be wheelchairs designed for the pool environment as part of the pool pod installation. These can be used by anyone requiring transfer to a wheelchair appropriate for a pool environment.

How will the floating floor be managed – can you just ask staff to lift the floor up so you can access the pool?

The floor can be operated by any member of staff. The pool programme of activities, which will be developed by the operator of the building, will normally dictate the level of the floor in the pool – this will be set by the centre’s operator prior to the pool activity taking place.

Can you operate the floating floor when there are people in the pool?

No. There will be a swimming programme put in place by the centre’s operator and the floor depth will be set by this programme. For example, at another leisure centre designed by our architect team, aqua-aerobics and swimming sessions for people with disabilities are part of the programme and during these sessions, the floor is raised to make the pool accessible for these sessions.

So, a disabled person will not be able to use the pool with able bodied friends?

The pools will both be accessible to disabled and able-bodied people at the same time. The pool pods, which include waterproof wheelchairs, will always be in use which means step-free access to the pools is possible even if the floating floors are lowered.

Pool pods are not just for people in wheelchairs, they can also be used by anyone uncomfortable with using the other access points. They are easy to use and operate.

Will waterproof wheelchairs be provided? And will poolside wheelchair storage be provided for people’s own wheelchairs?

Yes, pool pods will be equipped with waterproof wheelchairs. There will also be storage facilities for wheelchairs in the buildings pool stores which are accessed from the pool surround.

Can textured tiles be used in the pools so visually impaired people can judge the depth and/or to indicate the end of the pool? Or could bubbles/water jets be used to indicate the end of the pool?

We do not use textured tiles on pool surrounds to indicate the depth of the pools as the depth of the pools vary. The edge of the pool is instead marked with a textured contrasting strip to make the edges as defined as possible.

Can mobility floats be made available for those who need them?

Mobility floats could be purchased by the building operator. The Council is committed to making this an inclusive facility so will consider this, and other accessible programming of activities, when appointing an operator.

2. Wayfinding

Will there be textured surfaces on the floor to indicate changes for those in wheelchairs or with visual impairments?

No, textured surfaces are not used inside a building to denote stairs – wayfinding inside the building will be via clear signage and braille.

Will there be colour contrasting floors, walls and/or furnishings to help aid wayfinding, e.g. for people with dementia?

The design of the internal finishes will, where appropriate, adopt an LRV contrast. There will be a restriction on the LRV contrast for materials on floor as this is not deemed to be helpful for people with dementia.

Can the lift, changing places and disabled changing areas clearly signposted so can be found easily?

Yes, there will be clear signposting to ensure navigation around the building is as simple and straightforward as possible.

Will corridors be wide enough for a wheelchair to comfortably pass without blocking the whole corridor?

Yes – corridors will comply with Sports England Guidance.

3. Sensory experience

Can Autism-only sessions be run in the teaching pool, making use of the black out blinds and lighting systems?

Yes, the teaching pool is well-equipped for sessions like this to take place. It will be possible to block out natural light and hold sensory sessions using special lights and shining them onto the water.

There is not yet a programme in place for activities within the new facility, as it has not yet been built and we do not have an operator in place. However, the pool has been specifically designed to allow such sessions to take place and the Council will consider this when putting the programme together.

Will the lighting be soft enough for people with autism?

Lighting levels will be able to be controlled and be dimmable. The operator of the centre will be responsible for setting the lighting levels once the centre is open.

4. Gym facilities

Could exercise classes for people with diabetes be included in the programming?

There is not yet a programme in place for activities within the new facility, as it has not yet been built and we do not have an operator in place. However, the Council will absolutely consider this when putting their programme together and we think this is an excellent idea which the new facility could absolutely provide.

Will any gym include equipment for the disabled, e.g. motor-med, bench/beds for stretching/special exercises?

A range of exercise activities and equipment will be included within the fitness suite – the equipment will be selected by the operator of the building. The Council is committed to making the centre an accessible facility and will consider this when appointing an operator.

    5. General accessibility

    Will there be Changing Places facilities and what will these include? Will they be inclusive of larger bodies?

    Yes, Changing Places facilities will be included in both the ‘wet’ (swimming) changing room and the ‘dry’ (gym and other sports) changing rooms.

    The changing places facility will comply with the guidance as illustrated in https://www.changing-places.org/news/view/changing-places-standards-1

    Will the Changing Places facilities include showers?

    Yes.

    Will there be parking for disabled people and where will this be located?

    Yes, there will be approximately 5 parking spaces provided for disabled people on Fairfield Road, subject to the agreement of the Local Planning Authority. This is a net increase of two on top of the existing three spaces on Fairfield Road.

    This is in addition to street parking which already exists in the area. We are in very early conversations with the Highways team about the possibility of improving the layout of existing parking as well.

    The Kingfisher Leisure Centre had no parking on site, except for six spaces for staff, so we are confident that we are making access improvements for people with disabilities.

    Will there be more than one disabled changing room?

    Yes, there will be a range of changing facilities designed within the building including two Changing Places facilities, accessible toilets, ambulant accessible toilets, and accessible changing cubicles in both the wet and dry sports areas.

    Will there be RADAR keys on the changing places and disabled changing rooms?

    The changing places facilities will be operated by RADAR keys to ensure they are being kept free for those who need them.

    As RADAR keys tend to restrict access, they are not intended to be used on other facilities such as changing rooms. However, this will ultimately be a decision for the operator of the new centre.

    Will the doors to the changing rooms and changing places toilet open outward (i.e. not into the changing place itself) as this can reduce space and make manoeuvring difficult?

    Yes, Changing Places facilities, accessible toilets and all ambulant accessible toilets will have doors which open outwards to ensure maximum space inside.

    Will there be wheelchair accessible changing and showering facilities all in one place?

    Yes, there will be accessible changing and showering facilities in both changing areas.

      6. Hydrotherapy

      Could a hydrotherapy pool be provided here? This is the only way people with certain disabilities (e.g. arthritis) can swim and it would also benefit those recovering from surgeries or injuries.

      A dedicated hydrotherapy pool would typically operate at a temperature of 33-36 degrees which would be regarded as too hot for many people using the pool for activities such as aquarobics.

      However, the temperature of the teaching pool will be set at a warmer temperature to the main 25m pool, making it more appropriate for people moving more slowly. The temperature will be set at a level which most people find acceptable (around 32-33 degrees) and is as appropriate as possible to meet the needs of the residents in Kingston.

      Could the Teaching Pool be made warmer for certain sessions, effectively becoming a hydro-therapy pool some of the time?

      Unfortunately, no. Whilst the temperature could be raised to 33-36 degrees, it would be very difficult to do this for a large pool in a way that was economical or efficient. Hydro-therapy pools are much smaller generally, making them easier to heat to the correct temperature.

      It would also make achieving Net Zero Carbon impossible if heating and cooling the teaching pools for certain sessions.

      If it cannot be provided here, is there another location the Council could consider providing a hydrotherapy pool?

      We do understand that many people would like to see a hydrotherapy pool in Kingston. It is evident from this engagement that this is important and there isn’t currently a public facility in Kingston. Unfortunately, space limits the ability to include this in the new centre. While we can not currently make any commitments to where we may be able to put a hydrotherapy pool in the future, we will ensure this feedback is not lost.

        The Cattle Market Site

        1. Do you have any specific proposals for the Cattle Market site?
        • We are in the early stages of plans to deliver green and affordable new homes on the Cattle Market car park site next to the Kingfisher Leisure Centre. Our design team for the new leisure facility is looking at the masterplan for the entire site but we have not yet appointed an architect so have no firm plans for what the new buildings here could look like.
        • We will provide additional information and bring forward detailed proposals for your feedback in 2022. These plans will have their own further phase of engagement and will be submitted as a separate planning application.
        2. What will happen to the Monday Market if you redevelop the Cattle Market?
        • We are still in the early stages of 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. 
        • We will continue to engage with market traders and the wider community about the future of the Monday Market as the plans develop.
        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.