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Multi million pound leisure facilities proposed for Kenilworth

A report released by Warwick District Council today (Tuesday) confirms the end of the outdoor lido pool at Abbey Fields.

Image of swimming pool at the new proposed Abbey Fields facility, which includes the bi-fold doors opening up onto a sun terrace.
Image of swimming pool at the new proposed Abbey Fields facility, which includes the bi-fold doors opening up onto a sun terrace.
The report outlines the new plans for the development of two leisure centres in Kenilworth, which includes the Castle Farm Recreation Centre and the Abbey Fields Swimming Pool facility.

The report is the culmination of work over the past few months by the district council’s project team to determine the best way forward for the extension and improvement of Kenilworth’s leisure facilities and provide more clarity to areas of concern raised by residents in the community.

The report was made public and posted on the district council’s website this morning (Tuesday morning August 13).

The new report will be reviewed by the council’s executive committee next Wednesday on August 21.

The scheme was approved by the council’s previous executive committee and put on hold after the elections in May.

The Abbey Fields facility will be updated and modernised and the Castle Farm centre will be completely knocked down and rebuilt new.

The indoor pool at Abbey Fields will remain where it is at the current centre. But that is about the only part of the facility that will remain the same.

A second indoor pool will be created at Abbey Fields to replace the existing outdoor pool, which will open up to an adjoining sun terrace.

In light of the district council’s declaration of a climate emergency last month the sustainability and environmental impact of the proposed new facilities are featured in the new report, with details of the potential carbon footprint.

District Cllr Moira-Ann Grainger, the portfolio holder for culture, said: “The benefit of time has enabled us not only to take a more collaborative approach to our plans for Kenilworth, but has also allowed us to gain vital information regarding the sustainability of both options at Abbey Fields, talk further to key stakeholders and to develop the designs further for both Abbey Fields and Castle Farms. Based on these valuable insights I am very much looking forward to sharing these exciting new proposals with my colleagues.”

District council officials spoke with the media ahead of the report’s release outlining some of the details for the two facilities.

The Abbey Fields facility will include a new National Trust style cafe with large windows overlooking Finham Brook on one side and a view overlooking the pool on the other. It will also include a patio area with seating outside a new entrance located closer to Finham Brook.

One of several new things the swimming facility will offer the community will be the provision two disabled changing rooms, including a ‘changing places’ changing room with specialised equipment such as a hoist and full flat bed.

Paddy Herlihy, programme manager with the Cultural Services Department of Warwick District Council said: “The hoist system will enable an adult or child to be hoisted onto the changing table, and once changed the hoist will lift them from the table and transport them directly into the pool. The process can also be reversed picking them straight out of the pool and bringing them back to the changing room.

“This avoids the uncomfortable and difficult transition from one lifting device to another. If you have somebody with a profound disability you can take them to Abbey Fields.”

The Abbey Fields swimming facility will also include individual and family changing cubicles.

Rose Winship, head of cultural services with the district council, said: “Most people have found the family changing rooms to be a major improvement.”

Another new feature for the facility two sets of changing rooms for schools that lock keeping property safe for each class as it comes in for swimming lessons.

The facility’s new smaller pool will include movable floor that can be raised up through the water to make the water appear shallower, so that different groups can use the pool.

Paddy added: “This means the whole pool can be used for young children to learn to swim (rather than just the part that is the right depth for that age group) and then the depth can be adjusted for an aqua-aerobics class, and then adjusted again for a group of swimmers with a disability.

There will also be new indoor toilets to go along with the current ones on the outside of the building close to the park, which will be updated.

The new specialised pool will also have bi-fold doors along one side of it, which can be opened up onto a sun terrace overlooking the lake at Abbey Fields.

There will also be several ‘fun’ features located around the specialised pool such as a water curtain or water cannons. Although, council officials said the ‘fun’ features have yet to determined.

The tennis courts and pavilion at Abbey Fields will also be updated as part of the project.

Paddy said: “This is a facility for the whole district.”

The cost of the Abbey Fields facility will be an estimated £7 to £9 million, which officials said comes close to the cost of the £9 million Newbold facility in Leamington.

It will be paid for through section 106 funds, which are contributions made by developers to local communities. Funding will also come from grants and loans.

Rose said: “What we are expecting is these will be more successful and that helps pay for it.”

District council officials will be meeting with members of the Restore Kenilworth Lido Campaign group to discuss the report.

Rose added: “The key thing to me is it gives us water space year round. As a council our fundamental role is to make sure there’s enough water space year round.

The Kenilworth Lido Campaign Group wanted a new outdoor pool that was the same size as the current indoor pool at 25 by 10m.

Council officials released some attendance figures on the outdoor, which showed a high of around 1,500 people for the week of July 22 (where temperatures reached record highs) and the second highest of nearly 300 for the week of August 1.

Paddy added: “It’s used when it’s blazing hot.”

District council officials are exploring the possibility of securing an open swimming facility.

Rose added: “We’ve done some looking into what it would take to create a new one or convert one. We believe something like that would be popular.”

Making sure there is enough parking for an open swim facility would be one of the key factors.

Parking will not change at the Abbey Fields facility. District council officials will encourage area residents to park at the Castle Farm facility, which will have its parking spaces doubled.

Castle Farm Recreation Centre

The Castle Farm Recreation Centre will be completely knocked down and built again new. The new leisure facility will include an expanded sports hall increasing the badminton courts from four to six.

The Castle Farm centre will also include a vending and seating area along with two sets of changing rooms one close to the outdoor playing fields and another close the gym facilities.

There will also be a set of bi-fold door facing the playing fields.

The unique selling point for the Castle Farm centre will be an interactive studio, which will include various data points in the room for simulated squash games, parties and other activities such gentle exercise classes.

Rose said: “This bit is in development. That’s something we think will be quite exciting.”

The Castle Farm centre will also include a spin studio and an enlarged gym, which will increase its stations from 27 to 80. The fitness studio will include large windows overlooking an old tree in front of the building.

Paddy said: “We’re actually keeping the tree out front as a feature to the building. It will be like a living sculpture.”

The playground will remain the same and unchanged at the Castle Farm centre.

The cost of the new Castle Farm Recreational Centre will be an estimated £10 to £12 million. It will be funded similarly as the Abbey Fields leisure facility.

Everyone Active will continue to manage both facilities.

The estimated time frame for both facilities will be for construction to start at the end of summer 2020 and for them to open in autumn 2021.

Paddy added: “We are preparing facilities for the next 30 years.”

Source: Kenilworth Weekly News

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