Kingston leisure centre will be bulldozed after locals fail in fight to save it

The Kingfisher leisure centre has been closed for almost two years

A bid to save a beloved leisure centre from bulldozers in Kingston was slapped down by council bosses on Tuesday night.

A petition with over 3,600 signatures to save Kingston’s Kingfisher leisure centre was rejected on October 12.

The council agreed to bulldoze and rebuild the centre on September 1.

The Kingfisher leisure centre has been closed for almost two years after it was decided that repairs to fix the roof would cost £5 million, however the council’s plans to build a brand new leisure centre in Kingfisher’s wake will cost £40 million.

Resident Caroline Shah, who started the petition, told Kingston Council: “It absolutely appals me that this council is considering demolishing the Kingfisher leisure centre and has actually approved a planning application to demolish it without a replacement.

“There has been no consultation with residents on the demolition of the Kingfisher.”

Councillor John Sweeney, Liberal Democrat councillor for Berrylands, said: “I know that not everybody agrees, but I believe that it’s the right thing for the borough to do.

“The petition is asking for things that we cannot give you.

“Let’s work together to get this project finished as quickly as possible so we can all enjoy our leisure centre facilities in Kingston again.”

Cllr Kevin Davis, Conservative leader of the opposition, said: “I certainly don’t believe that knocking down the swimming pool when we’ve not got a planning application in place for the one we supposedly are going to have in the future is in any way the right way to go about this.

“We’ve got a situation where we’ve got no pool, we’ve got no promise, we’ve got no plan, we’ve got no money, we’ve certainly got no timescale for any of this.”

He added: “But the good news for all of us is that there will be an election soon and we can throw [the Liberal Democrats] in the pool and watch them flounder.”

Independent Liberal Democrat councillor Jon Tolley who quit the party over the “dishonest” Kingfisher plans said: “I think the Kingfisher should be knocked down but not yet. ”

Cllr Sharron Sumner, Green Party councillor urged the council to speak with families about what they want and proposed a rejected amendment to only knock down the leisure centre once planning permission is given for a replacement.

Council leader Caroline Kerr said: “We have made a public commitment in committee, we have put our money where our mouth is.

“We have committed significant sums of money already to this project, we have hired architects and other technical expertise and we will continue to engage with our residents – 4,000 people have taken part in the engagement so far.”