Monday, 22 August 2011

Consultation for Vauxhall Swimming pool and student apartments on 30 - 60 South Lambeth Road

(Image retrieved from Google Maps 22nd August 2011 ©Google 2011)

(Image taken from developer Downing's Vauxhall site)

A two day consultation event will be held in September concerning a planning application on 30 - 60 Lambeth Road, SW8 for 580 student apartments and leisure use, including a 20m x 9m swimming pool!! The site is waste ground at present and used for car storage, so it won't be missed. The complex would be located almost opposite Vauxhall Park.

The suggestion of a swimming pool has been raised repeatedly by local residents and is an exciting possiblity, but we know from other sources that swimming pools are very expensive for local authorities to run (with real costs per visit in the region of £12) so we'll have to see what happens... It's not clear whether it would be a council-run facility or a private facility which would be open to local residents.

The commerical property developer, Downing would be developing the site, and according to Oval News, want to submit a planning application in Autumn 2011. The good old Labour councillors of Oval Ward didn't mention the swimming pool aspect on their blog, which is strange, but maybe they didn't spot it... The developers even have a Vauxhall blog up and running for plans concerning their new site:

According to the information I've seen, the swimming pool would be at lower ground-level, visible from South Lambeth Road (could be interesting if they move the bus station there), with the student housing on upper floors. The information I have doesn't mention how high the planned building will be (it mentions the fourth floor, but no higher). They'd have to go some way to beat proposals such as the defeated Bondway and the St George Wharf Tower... I think the development falls within the VNEB development area.

The consultation will be held at Vauxhall Christian Centre (105 Tyers Street, SE11) on Thursday 8th September (4pm - 8pm) and Saturday 10th September (11am - 4pm).

This is a consultation not to miss! Perhaps they're hoping that the swimming pool suggestion will entice locals so much that we will completely fail to notice that student accomodation can be disruptive for local residents... To be fair though, there isn't much residential housing nearby (Langley Lane and Lawn Lane perhaps). Surely it wouldn't present residents with greater disturbance than that currently presented by patrons of Fire though?

Edit 22:02 on 22nd August: Vauxhall Society have since published their article on 30-60 South Lambeth Road which is apparently proposed at "32-storey or so" (would be useful to have that clarified). I didn't know that the building was proposed to be that high when I wrote my article so I have not put their negative slant on it. I'm sort of resigned to Vauxhall turning into Sky Scraper corner now. I reckon Downing will ask for 32 storeys and be granted about 25. Obviously, a tower that tall is likely to cast shadows over Vauxhall Park, which will probably cue a renewed "shadows over the park" debate. However, I'm inclined to think more local people will be swayed by the swimming pool than they will be the shadows argument, so kudos to Downing for being quite clever with this proposal. Kylun want the Triangle site to contain a 41 storey tower, and all we'll get is a cinema and champagne bar. Downing only want 32 storeys and local residents will get a whole swimming pool...! Anyhow, readers MUST go and check out Vauxhall Society's article because somebody has a lovely way with words. They say:

"Isn’t the ‘street scene’ perhaps animated enough around Vauxhall Cross, some might ask, without drivers being distracted by kerbside vistas of aquatic romping?"
I'm rather in favour of a slightly reduced tall tower (25 sounds reasonable, right?) but I definitely support the aquatic romping. Vauxhall rather lacks aquatic romping at present...


Anonymous said...

To be useful the swimming pool needs to be at least 25m. Anything less is a waste of space.

Chris W said...

'I'm rather in favour of a slightly reduced tall tower (25 sounds reasonable, right?) but I definitely support the aquatic romping.'

Well, no, it's not reasonable. I'm in that non-existent residential housing you mention (Bonnington Square? Lawn Lane? Langley Lane?) and 25 stories equals no light, dead park. Horrible.

The swimming pool, to steal from Hitchcock, is just the McGuffin.

SE11 Lurker said...

@Anon Ahh, so perhaps it's possible to persuade the developer towards a shorter tower and a wider pool... :) It only needs an additonal 5 metres.

@Chris The entirety of Vauxhall has been designated by the London plan as a hub for tall towers. We know that the tallest tower planned is at St George's Wharf and the other towers will fan out east and west getting shorter as they go along. No doubt some form of building will take place on 30-60 South Lambeth Road.

Looking at a map it seems, 30-60 Bondway is nearly parallel to the St George Wharf tower when looking south from the tower. Vauxhall Island site (already approved)comes in at 36 storeys, and that's only slightly further west than the proposed 30-60 South Lambeth Road.

We know at present that the inspector at the Bondway appeal acquitted Bondway on the grounds of overshadowing and overlooking Vauxhall Park, noting that you cannot expect privacy in a public park. Therefore, arguing that the tower will overshadow the park is unlikely to be successful for 30-60 Bondway. Objectors (eg. Vauxhall Society) may be better focusing on other environmental concerns (noise pollution perhaps) than overshadowing, since we know that the shadowing argument didn't work in the Bondway case.

I'm afraid I've become rather pragmatic about it all. I despise tall towers with a vengeance (as readers will know). I think they're bad at encouraging community involvement (haven't noticed any St George Wharf residents at KOV, KA or any associated groups). But... the area is having these buildings dumped on it so I think the best we can do is negotiate them down in height and attempt to seek as much public benefit from them as possible.

Malcis said...

Anonymous pipped me to the post on the 25m issue. God knows Vauxhall needs a swimming pool but 20m is useless for serious swimming. For another 5m I might be prepared to soften my view on park overshadowing - which despite the inspectors' views I think is a serious issue for Vauxhall.

Tony Roberts said...

20m is no great length for a pool, but it beats the nearby Horizons pool in Stockwell by 4m!

I expect our local Councillors to fully support this application. Any additional leisure facility that can offer a private sector solution to the mess that they have made of public provision, has to be a positive move.

Sid Boggle said...

Will the footprint of the land available to build on permit a 25m pool? I suppose it might if it's below street level. I think McDonalds wanted to put a 'drive-thru' on there many moons ago, when Save the Children were the main tenant at 66-68.

Got to say I don't like the idea of towers on the S Lambeth Rd side of the railway - it'll be next door to a 4-storey building and there aren't any other similar towers anywhere else on that side of Vauxhall, apart from the despised BT building (12 floors?). Totally out of scale to everything on that side of the railway. Can't they dump them on the river side of the railway divide, with all the other skyscrapers?

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Anonymous said...

My 13 year old daughter swims competitively, and does a lot of her training at the Queen Mother Leisure Centre in Victoria. Her Club are desperately short of pool time and run a long membership wait list. Swimming is a very popular children's sport. However the competitive distance is 25 meters and this is really the minimum that can be used for any swim training beyond "learn to swim". 20m is used typically for private health clubs where you will have 3 or 4 adults in the pool at a time, not for childrens swimming where you typically get 7-10 kids in a lane.

There are actually quite a lot of 20m pools around, say in office blocks and hotels around Victoria and Millbank, but virtually none, other than the very oversubscribed Queen Mum, which children and schools can access.

It sounds like another lost opportunity.

Stuart said...

I went along to the consultation today, and one of the first things that struck me was the very limited space they are planning to build in - it's a very tight squeeze in that corner between s.lambeth rd, parry st and the railway line.

the size of the swimming pool was one of the things i discussed with a downing representative, and after seeing the plans in a bit more detail, i could sort of see their logic behind it. he said that in theory there was scope for the pool to be 22m long, but is that really that much different from 20m? the devil's in the detail though, because by law pools over 20m in length have to have a full time lifeguard present. a full time lifeguard of course costs money, and from a management point of view that means something would else have to be sacrificed, most likely opening hours.

so i think we can safely assume that we're not going to have any future olympians training in this pool. but we may well have some that first learn to swim there. i for one support the proposals. any pool is better than no pool.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with Stuart. A 20m pool is small. It is what you see at health clubs, and really you only get one adult swimmer a lane. These are inevitably in private health clubs, and actually tend not to be used much.

25 m gives you a lot more scope and economic viability. The lifeguard issue is a bit of a red herring. Learn to swim classes and swim clubs will have coaches who are qualified lifeguards. Honestly if you had a 25m pool here you there would be a queue of adult Masters Swimming (eg Otters), trithletes, water polo, syncro (even London's only gay sycro club that currently uses the Queen Mum) as well as schools, disability swimming groups, Muslim womens groups, childrens parties, and childrens swim clubs. London also has canoe football and underwater hockey clubs, and also aqua aerobics. Club bookings need a lower lifeguard ratio than public facilities, and given the cost of pool bookings, even if a club cannot provide its own lifeguard £6.50 an hour is hardly going to break the bank.

Private clubs with pools nearby, eg Ballentynes, LA Fitness etc are struggling to find members. The idea of providing a pool with poor utility which will not be suitable for a range of likely customers simply to save the cost of a lifeguard sounds mad.

The only people building pools other than health clubs and hotels seem to be private schools (none in Vauxhall sadly for swimming facilities) who build 25m. They seem to have no problem then letting out to various groups including swim schools and swim clubs out of school hours.

My guess is that if they provide that extra 3 or 4 foot there will be 10 times the number of people using the pool. This has to make economic sense.

The problem with having only learn to swim is that kids learn at say age 8 but then have no where to go after. What should happen is that the learning to swim is the first step on a pathway to participation in swimming most probably (given the lack of leisure centres) through a club.

My daughter currently trains with a 17 yo potential Para Olympian and a 14 year old on the England talent programme, as well as others who made National finals this year. They manage mostly with a pretty run down 4 lane school 25m pool starting at 6.15 am and then having to find their way to school. A similar pool in Vauxhall with its brilliant transport links would be fantastic, and would give sports opportunties, particarly for local girls (lots of football but not many girls sports round here) that really dont exist.

There are rules about the number of lifeguards for the size of a pool and private gyms usually have pools small enough not to need them. However if you have children swimming you need lifeguards which is why some many local health clubs refuse to allow children to swim or severely limit times of access. However this would not be a community facility.

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Anonymous said...

The application is due to go to Committee quite soon. I dont know anything about the height of the building, however the developers have agreed to build a 25m three lane pool. The trouble is that they have not given any detail of the Community Use agreement they propose. This is a bit like suggesting planning permission is granted without agreeing a level of S106. If this is to be a pool for community use the agreement needs to safeguard times for school, and group use (eg aqua-aerobics for the elderly, of swim sessions for children with physical or learning disabilities.) My particular interest is having some time available for teenagers to have train with a Swim Club. (Olympic Legacy ?!)

Otherwise, as has happened with a number of pools owned by hospitals and Universities, and now increasingly public Leisure Centres, usage is restricted to those able to afford membership or private swim lessons.

Such community use agreements are standard practice when schools (normally private) apply to build a pool, and discussion would normally take place with interested parties and potential users. Why not in this case?

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