Few opportunities exist in towns like London to help its residents to get better public facilities. Usually there is not enough space, or the land is too expensive for such undertakings.
A rare occasion for Camden and Islington residents arose through the redevelopment of former railway owned land at Kings Cross. So far we have been given a big square with water fountains and a basketball court, the land is big enough to allow for all that, and it would have been big enough to allow for finally (for London) an extra proper athletic swimming pool? Over two hundred thousand square meters of space, “50 new buildings, 2,000 new homes, 20 new streets, 10 new public squares, 67 acres 8 million square feet, 3.4 milion sq ft of workspace, 500,000 sq ft of retail, 26 acres of public space, 45,000 people (quote from Kingscross.co.uk website)” that must be be big enough to accommodate 50 metre swimming pool, little in comparison, you would think?
But I have just been told by Camden that the new swimming pool to be built inside the new Town Hall of Camden at Pancras Square is of a mediocre squeezed 25 metre dimension (plus a lagoon fun pool) the usual size for urban areas that can simply not afford bigger due to lack of space.
Now is Kings Cross Railway Land a squeezed area, without funds? Hardly! 50 meter swimming facilities are standard elsewhere, especially on the continent, and they are much needed in London, where young aspiring swimmers have but few pools of proper Olympic measurements. From next year they can however use the Olympic Aquatic Centre in Stratford. Not the nearest place to Kings Cross, unless you use that High Speed train going between St. Pancras and Stratford. There is also a cold water lido in Parliament Hill but the temperatures certainly suit not all.
You would think that having gone through the Olympics, developers in London and councils would pride themselves to facilitate the building of more community pools with competition distances, especially on a vast formerly empty development site? 25 square meters (0.2 % of the entire site) for a population that is big enough to be a small town in its own right, is something that is simply not good enough, in my opinion!
And that’s not all. Normally socially minded urban planners with available space and a swimming pool in mind, would create not just a 50 meter pool but a whole water leisure land, with whirl pools, saunas, children pools, and water slides in addition to the actual swimming facility. Whilst I am not sure how big the lagoon pool will be, presumably it won’t be bigger than the bare minimum.
And then soon will come the time when all the land has been built upon and considerations for such facilities are simply impossible and unimaginable.
Why is it that consideration of proper (sized) public facilities are but on the back burner of huge developments such as these, I ask, tiny in comparison and in effect a missed opportunity, especially when Islington are about to refurbish Cally Pool, which is an already existing 25 metre pool in the area? In an on-line questionnaire we put on this site earlier so far 39.9% argued that they are happy with Cally Pool, but second to that 28.6% agreed they would like to see a 50 meter pool at Kings Cross (see https://kingscrossenvironment.com/2013/09/09/do-you-think-cally-pool-is-a-filthy-dump-2/). They will be disappointed.
Read also: Wikipedia list of Olympic sized pools in the UK en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_long_course_swimming_pools_in_the_United_Kingdom
Postscript: Many Thanks to Tom Cole who correct me on the Highspeed Train ( I have since changed that bit in the text). I have actually asked South Eastern about four times last year after the Olympics if you could still travel from St. Pancras to Stratford, and each time they claimed the service was no longer running and not being reintroduced, hence I was sure it wasn’t existing any longer. I am really quite delighted it runs again. This softens the case somewhat, although it is a shame that planners do not think big given so much space!