Construction of the new Forest Hill Leisure Centre has begun after a ground-breaking ceremony at the site on 21 February.
Willmott Dixon are working in partnership with architects Roberts Limbrick to create the new complex on Dartmouth Road, which, when completed, will feature a 25-metre pool, a 16.7-metre learner pool, fitness gym, two studios, community room and a café.
Sir Steve Bullock, the Mayor of Lewisham, and Chris Best, Cabinet Member for Community Services, attended the ceremony.
Sir Steve said: “I’m delighted that we’re now at a stage when we’re going to start seeing some real results. A lot people have devoted much time and energy on this project and I’m very excited that building work is now about to begin.
“We are well on target to ensure the leisure centre is open to the public by the end of 2012.”
The leisure centre is being built on the site of the former Forest Hill Pools. The existing Victorian frontage of the historic building will be incorporated into the new complex.
Original proposals for the new centre had involved the demolition of the neighbouring Louise House to clear extra land. However English Heritage listed Louise House as a building of architectural and historical importance in 2008, requiring new plans to be drawn up.
Cllr. Best said: “Willmott Dixon has made excellent progress since we awarded the contract to them in November. Not only have they moved quickly to prepare the site but they’ve also completed necessary remedial work on Louise House so the building can be used as their site office during construction.
“In the long term, both the Council and the local community stand to benefit when the building is handed back over because of the essential maintenance carried out.”
Richard Hibbert, Chairman of the Forest Hill Society, said: “It’s brilliant news that it’s going ahead, but in particular because Louise House will be saved in the new plans.”
“In the area you have Forest Hill Library, Louise House and the Holy Trinity Church, all of which are important historic buildings, so it’s great news that the existing frontage of Forest Hill Pools will be kept to maintain the character of the area.”