Harrogate council rejects rival plans for a new leisure centre by Knaresborough Civic Society as 'technically unfeasible'

Harrogate Borough Council has completely rejected claims by Knaresborough Civic Society that it ignored community interests in its plans for a £13million new leisure centre in Knaresborough and says an alternative proposal to modify the town's existing swimming pool is simply "technically unfeasible".

Monday, 13th December 2021, 11:39 am
The ground floor plan of the Community Alternative Proposal for a new Knaresborough Leisure Centre submitted by Knaresborough Civic Society. (Courtesy of retired architect David Hull)

The council has taken the time to answer in detail some of the complaints made by Knaresborough Civic Society' ahead of today's deadline for public comments on the planning application for a new leisure and wellness centre which would replace the town’s existing swimming pool.

Knaresborough Civic Society question:

Sign up to our daily Harrogate Advertiser Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Greener and better? The Community Alternative Proposal for a new Knaresborough Leisure Centre presented by Knaresborough Civic Society (Courtesy of retired architect David Hull).

Knaresborough Civic Society claims that an alternative proposal by a local architect supported by the civic society to retain but modify the existing swimming pool called Community Alternative Proposal for New Knaresborough Leisure Centre which would save money, be less disruptive, be more visually attractive and more environmentally friendly had been offered to Harrogate Borough Council but has been ignored by them.

The architect describes the scheme as featuring a lightweight structure, floating over the existing car park area, and nestling amongst the existing tree canopy which would sit naturally in the landscape using locally sourced timber cladding, and a green roof - and use very little concrete.

The claim is this alternative design would result in a practical yet dynamic piece of architecture acting as a beacon to the entrance to Knaresborough in an environmentally sensitive way.

Harrogate Borough Council answer:

This alternative proposal has been reviewed by Harrogate Borough Council but would result in a significant closure of the existing facility and would not provide all the additional leisure provision that will be delivered in a new facility.

By creating a new energy-efficient leisure and wellness centre – that will have a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ sustainability rating – we will be able to keep the existing facility open until the new is ready, as well as providing Knaresborough with provide modern, fit-for-purpose leisure facilities to ensure people can be healthier, more active and enjoy a happier and more independent life.

The alternative architectural proposal also fails to recognise that extending existing pools is not technically feasible and that the existing structure would not support the building over of a new first floor.

There is no input from structural or services engineer nor quantity surveyor.

The planning application/design proposals that have been submitted have been compiled by a design team that has specialist knowledge of building many swimming pool and leisure centres across the country.

Knaresborough Civic Society question:

Knaresborough Civic Society claims the process of getting to this point has not been democratic and has not reflected community interests, for example, a public petition against the plans has, they claim, been completely ignored by Harrogate Borough Council

Harrogate Borough Council answer:

A consultation* last year identified that residents would welcome new facilities in Knaresborough.

And in October – when we asked people for their views for the proposals – more than half of respondents were in favour of the scheme and expressed that it was a great development which will be positive for the area and will benefit the expanding population.

Others agreed it was a good design and a welcome addition to leisure facilities in Knaresborough.

Residents can share their comments on the proposed planning application via our website.

*Summer 2020: Harrogate Borough Council engaged with residents, current users and those who did not use leisure facilities asking their views to what they desired and was practical in developing a new combined leisure for Knaresborough.

It was a combined consultation also asking new developments at the Hydro, but there was a specific sections regarding each site.

We had 417 responses, with 64 per cent of respondents stated they would use a new leisure centre at Knaresborough, which we advised would be a mixed dry and wet site.

The next public consultation in winter 2020 involved the questions about proposed site of the new wet and dry site at Knaresborough and people’s preferred location.

There were 471 responses and 81 per cent stated they agreed that the current site was their preferred location.

Public comments for the planning application for a new leisure centre in Knaresborough close today, Monday, December 13.

To make a comment, visit

www.harrogate.gov.uk/publicaccess

Application Ref No. 21/04684/RG3MAJ

Why our £13m new leisure and wellness centre is essential for Knaresborough: By Coun Stan Lumley

Harrogate Borough Council is convinced its plans to replace Knaresborough Swimming Pool with a new leisure and wellness centre will offer a huge boost to the town.

Included as part of the multi-million pound investment are: A 25m six lane pool; a learner pool; sauna and steam room; fitness studio; replacement play area; electric car charging points; bicycle storage and a cafe.

Coun Stanley Lumley, Harrogate Borough Council’s cabinet member for culture, tourism and sport, and chair of the board of directors at Brimhams Active, said there were sound reasons for going ahead with the project which was supported by the public and was eco-friendly.

“Knaresborough Swimming Pool was built over 30 years ago and is now showing signs of age. resulting in ongoing maintenance issues that can be a challenge to resolve without a closure of the pool and an impact on the customer,” he said.

“The new energy-efficient leisure and wellness centre, which will include a six-lane swimming pool and activity pool, will prevent future closures and offer more water space than the existing facility.

“Following a consultation last year, this is something residents have expressed they would welcome, and in October when we asked people for their views, more than half of respondents were in favour of the scheme and said that it was a great development which will be positive for the area and will benefit the expanding population.

“Others agreed it was a good design and a welcome addition to leisure facilities in Knaresborough.

“Following the public engagement event, we have also made a number of amendments to the scheme in response to what people have suggested, including changes to the brickwork and cladding to be more in-keeping with the character of Knaresborough.

“The open space on Fysche Field will be retained, any trees will be replaced at a ratio of 2:1 and the temporary closure of the existing playground will be as managed as best as possible.

“The new facility will also have the necessary energy-efficient measures to help achieve our own carbon reduction goals. “The facility will have a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ sustainability rating - which is no mean task for a swimming pool. This will include renewables in the form of Photovoltaic panels and air source heat pumps.”