We welcome the publication of the RBC proposals to develop and improve the Palmer Park recreation complex, a major leisure facility for East Reading. You can find full details of the proposal on the Council’s website here. The consultation ends on Friday 22 February.
As Liberal Democrats we regret that the Reading community lost both the Central Pool and the Arthur Hill facilities more than two years ago. We are concerned that this proposed development which includes the replacement of the Arthur Hill facility is not much further advanced than is the case.
We have further concerns about the Council’s proposals:
- No information on the estimated costs of this development are included, nor is any assessment of whether the refurbishing and reopening of Arthur Hill Swimming Pool would be a more cost effective and lower impact option than building a new leisure use pool.
- Given that Arthur Hill is now closed, the opportunity should be taken to consider a much more ambitious proposal than a ‘like for like’ replacement. For example this proposal should review the option to create a world class Olympic standard swimming and diving facility in Reading; a facility that could attract regional and national funding and enhance the reputation of Reading.
- No information has been provided to explain the analysis that Reading Borough Council has undertaken to determine that Palmer Park is the best location for this development, or a more ambitious project.
- The proposal implies that further leisure development within Palmer Park is under consideration. The Council should be specific about what these might be.
- No information has been given to explain and justify an increase in car parking spaces within the development. This results in a loss of parkland in the south of the park which runs counter to the Council’s own policies on preserving public open space and encouraging sustainable transport. Palmer Park is served by the excellent nos. 4 and 17 bus routes. Public development in Reading should promote the use of public transport.
Reading Borough Council has a history of bad faith that needs to be restated:
- A new swimming pool was promised by RBC to East Reading as long ago as 2003 to replace the 100 year old Arthur Hill pool.
- In 2005, 14 years ago now, consultation on a Palmer Park redevelopment, including a new swimming pool was conducted. A swimming pool was not built.
- RBC committed to keep open the Arthur Hill pool until a replacement was built. They broke that promise.
- RBC promise to listen to local views expressed in local consultations. In East Reading we have experienced the opposite. Significant numbers of residents in East Reading raised objections to the East Reading Mass Rapid Transport Scheme and have been ignored. The final statutory consultation on the East Reading Permit Parking Scheme resulted in 276 Objections to the plans with only 128 Supporters. The Council had made minor amendments and then carried on regardless.