Memorandum submitted by Coventry City
Council and the London Borough of Bromley
We welcome the decision of the Culture, Media
and Sport Committee to hold a public evidence session to examine
current issues around the sport of swimming and particularly the
challenge of swimming pools in listed buildings.
1. The City of Coventry and London Borough
of Bromley have a long history of support for swimming, working
in partnership with the swimming clubs and the Amateur Swimming
Association and providing top class facilities for competitions.
2. It will be helpful for the Committee
to be aware of the particular issues facing post-war listed swimming
poolsat Coventry and at Crystal Palace. These facilities,
like many others built in the 1960s and 1970s, are now in need
of major investment if they are to meet the needs and expectations
of swimming and local communities in the 21st century.
3. Our experience is that in many cases,
architects and surveyors would advise that many of these facilities
are at the end of their useful life and that it would be more
efficient and effective to demolish and replace with new buildings.
Inevitably, such a conclusion provides an opportunity for a radical
re-think about the provision of swimming pool facilities. The
decision to grant Grade 2 listed status to Coventry and Crystal
Palace significantly limits these options.
4. It is understood that the listing of
the 50 metre swimming pools recognises the significance of these
buildings as representing the commitment of the nation and individual
local authorities to improving the quality of life as part of
post-war reconstruction. However, the scale and complexity of
these buildings means that the options for providing for current
day needs and matching customer expectations is significantly
limited. Both Coventry City Council and the London Borough of
Bromley are active in pursuing the best options possible within
the constraints of the listing but feel that the Committee would
want to be aware of the challenges which this presents.
5. The pool designs were based on the needs
of international swimming competition in the 1950s and 1960s.
They now fall short of modern day standards for international
competition, while still lacking the flexibility required for
community provisionteaching children to swim, fitness swimming,
family enjoyment, etc.
6. The level of revenue subsidy required
to keep these buildings going is above average and potentially
restricts the level of investment which the local authority may
be able to put into broader community provision for sport and
7. Local authorities and swimming pool operators
face a real challenge of achieving a programming balance to meet
the varied demands on swimming pool usage, eg:
teaching children to learn to swimacquiring
a key life skill.
providing for adult fitness swimmingone
of the safest and most effective forms of exercise which can make
a real contribution to health targets.
competitive swimming to achieve their
potential in the sport and supporting elite athletes in their
efforts to bring home medals. It is understood that there is likely
to be an increased emphasis on training and competition for top
level swimmers in 50 metre, rather than 25 metre, pools.
swimming for fun, relaxation and
meeting with friends.
8. Having reached the decision to list these
swimming pools, DCMS is asked to give some special consideration
to how local authorities and swimming pool operators might be
supported in facing the challenges outlined above. This help might
An approach to listed building consents
which achieves a balance between preserving the essential features
and atmosphere of these buildings whilst allowing for example
the introduction of modern materials, environmental controls,
access arrangements, revisions to layout, in order to meet modern
Special assistance with capital funding,
either through Lottery, the Capital Modernisation Fund or PFI
Assistance with the additional revenue
running costs created by the listing. This could perhaps be a
similar approach to that taken for the funding of museums which
hold designated collections considered to be of national significance.
Committee Members and DCMS officers are most
welcome to contact either of us for further information or perhaps
to arrange visits to see the issues and challenges at first hand.
29 November 2001