Civic Society

KCS Response To Leisure Centre Plans

KCS Response To Leisure Centre Plans

KCS Response To Leisure Centre Plans

Knaresborough Civic Society’s comments on the plans which have submitted to the Harrogate Borough Council Planning Committee for the proposed new £13m Leisure Centre, to commence in 2022.

The reference number to be quoted in all enquiries is

We urge you to take the time to look at the plans and have your say.

Here’s the opening paragraph from Knaresborough Civic Society’s response.

This is possibly going to be the largest building that many of us will see built in Knaresborough and as such we expect to be rightly proud of its appearance and confident in its overall sustainability credentials, especially as regards construction costs. We feel that the current design falls very far short of satisfying either expectation.
Our comments address the need the facility, our objections to the HBC proposal and consideration of an alternative approach to improving the existing facilities.
If the matter is referred to a full council meeting, we seek the opportunity to make oral representations. WE object to the planning application for the reasons set out below.
To make your own comment on the Harrogate Borough Council website, you must register on , this gives you a user account & password which enables you to access all their services online.
Once registered you can search for planning application 21/04684/RG3MAJ in the Public Access section.
Please be aware that If you decide to post your comment, it can take a few days before its published; it’s not an immediate posting.

Or you can send a letter to
Mr Andy Hough
Harrogate Borough Council ,
Planning Services ,
PO Box 787 Harrogate HG1 9RW
Please make sure you quote 21/04684/RG3MAJ

The rest of the civic society’s response continues as

Is there a need for this?

  1. Our first question is whether there is a recognised need for any expansion of the existing swimming pool. What evidence by way or research or public consultation or survey exists to establish that there is such a need? Evidence shows that in the years 2018-19 and 2019-20 the pool was only used to 50% of its capacity. That does not suggest a need for a larger facility. According to Sport England a swimming pool should have a life of 70 years. The existing pool is only 30 years old and has recently been refurbished and repaired at considerable expense. So we question whether spending a significant amount of public money on such a facility is a good use of money.
  2. We question also whether an expansion from 4 to 6 swimming lanes is necessary. Sport England’s own figures suggest that the this would change the hourly capacity from 61 people to 69 people, an increase of 13%. Such an increase could easily be achieved by a small increase in the opening hours.
  3. Is a new gym facility needed? There are already two such facilities, one in Market Place and one adjoining the Dower House Hotel on Bond End. A third gym may not be viable and may take customers from two existing local businesses.
    If the Pool is to be improved
    If there is an identified need for an expansion of the existing pool, then we need to consider whether this is best done by a new building, as proposed, or by expansion and development of the existing building.
    We are not satisfied that the Council has investigated properly the much cheaper and less disruptive alternative of renewing the services within the existing structure which, as set out above, is only 30 years old and has recently been refurbished. As an analogy home owners do not, in the main, demolish their home and start again elsewhere, when they just need it to be re-wired and re-plumbed.
    The HBC Proposal
  4. KCS feels the proposal in its purpose, design, scale and layout does not improve the application site and there will be negative implications of the application being granted on the environment, community and neighbouring residents.
  5. There are concerns over the loss of the safely ensconced playground and about the siting of the new building so close to Rose Cottage (grade II Listed dating back to 1685) as well as for the felling of 21 mature trees giving rise to the loss of existing bio-diversity and an extension of the paved areas.
  6. The proposed building does not match the character of Knaresborough or the area it is proposed to reflect. There is real concern that the grey & red brick and metal cladding on such a ubiquitous design, will not serve as a suitably inspiring or distinctive edifice for generations to come.
    At the very least a more appropriate cladding than the metal crinkle pattern should be sought.
  7. The building is too large and looks like an industrial warehouse.  It is not appropriate for a new building on this site at the gateway of the town and will blight Fysche Field for the foreseeable future. The park is a key feature of the urban landscape of Knaresborough, and this design shows absolutely no sympathy or understanding of its nature, geography, urban context or use.  
  8. The elevation diagrams demonstrate a significant dwarfing and overlooking of Rose Cottage, with a solid wall also blocking the space directly in front of and just a few metres from the property’s (single glazed) windows.
  9. The loss of the children’s playground for a number of years, even if eventually replaced elsewhere, will blight the childhoods of 2-11 year olds presently resident in the town.
  10. The earlier public consultation about the siting of the proposed facility referred to building this “on the site of the existing swimming pool”. This was the favoured option of the three sites offered. But that is not what is now proposed. Instead the proposal is to create a building site for a number of years adjoining the existing pool, followed by creating a demolition site where the existing building now stands. That is not what the public voted for.
  11. We believe that this proposal will also not meet the environmental and climate saving credentials of the Council. We suggest that the proposal be referred to Zero Carbon Harrogate for them to advise. The amount of ‘embedded carbon’ in the construction of the new building involving vast amounts of concrete and other raw materials, as well as the environmental costs of disposal of the broken up remains of the existing building are strong and compelling arguments not to proceed.
  12. As far as KCS is concerned, this is a poor and badly conceived piece of urban design. We urge the Council to reject this planning application.
    An Alternative Proposal
  13. We believe that an overall increased capacity for leisure activities and catering can be achieved by suitable modifications to the existing facility.
  14. A clear alternative to the proposal has been prepared by architects working for the ‘Not on Fysche Field’ group and this alternative proposal has already been made available to the Council.
  15. At a public meeting on 22 November arranged by the Civic Society a presentation of the alternative
    proposal met with unanimous approval.
  16. This proposal involves an extension rather than rebuilding. The extensions are lightweight and structurally independent of the existing building. The result of expanding the building in this way is to achieve a similar result at around half the cost without the environmental and climate degradation caused by HBC’s proposal. We believe that it is essential for the Council to properly examine this alternative proposal or other alternatives before making a decision on this application.

Closing date for comments is December 13th although later (postal) submissions will be accepted

Knaresborough Civic Society

Knaresborough Civic Society

Knaresborough Civic Society strives to make Knaresborough an even better place to live, work or visit.