Deptford community outraged as leisure pool faces closure

The petition to save the pool has gained over 3000 signatures. Pic: Mariano Nocetti

petition to save a Deptford leisure pool has reached over 3000 signatures in eight days, after the council revealed that they had no plans to reopen it.

Wavelengths leisure pool in Deptford is under threat of closure after Lewisham Council disclosed that a £700,000 refurbishment was needed to “bring it back into operation”. The council also said that the pool was in financial deficit after generating a recurring annual loss of £400,000.

Anne-Marie O’Reilly, who started the ‘Save Wavelengths leisure pool’ petition, said: “I really don’t want to imagine Deptford without it because it’s a really special space and it’s exactly the kind of thing we need to support people’s wellbeing after lockdown and support children’s health and the whole community’s health.”

O’Reilly added: “I’m really gutted because my child’s five and it’s his favourite place in London. He’s had his bag packed for the whole of lockdown. We just live on our own and it’s been quite a lonely year but one of the things we were both looking forward to was going swimming at the end of it.”

Before closing because of the pandemic, the leisure pool was a community hub, featuring bright blue flumes, a sloping beach and wave machine.

The council said it has spent £300,000 upgrading Wavelengths, including refurbishing the 25-metre swimming pool in the same facility but campaigners have branded the council’s decision not to reopen the leisure pool as “unacceptable”. 

The council have said that it will cost £700,000 to refurbish the pool. Pic: Lewisham Council

The council told EastLondonLines: “The leisure pool needs even more significant work and while we would like to reopen it, at the same time we need to investigate the issues and consider the options… This means we are unable to give a date for reopening.”

Local residents have asked why Community Infrastructure Levy [CIL] funding created from Evelyn Ward developments cannot be used for repairs on the leisure pool.

Local resident and frequent leisure pool user, Marianna Femia said: “The financial difficulties don’t stack up… the council has millions stashed away in CIL from Evelyn Ward’s developments. We have the highest numbers of new developments – almost 10,000 new homes being built in the coming years and yet they [the council] keep refusing to invest in the area”.

“Swimming is a life skill and the leisure pool is a key element to making swimming accessible to all. For Lewisham to only reopen the fitness pool, it shows they’re out of touch with what the community needs and values.”

Angry residents are now calling the council “shameful” after discovering that they agreed £5m funding back in January for repairs on Catford’s Broadway Theatre but are still failing to make a decision on the community’s leisure pool.

Local resident, Trina Lynskey said: “There’s a long history of this… They [the council] agreed multimillion pound funding for the theatre and axing the pool at the same meeting… Nobody was expecting this. Shameful that we would be left with the smallest pool in the borough despite having the highest population density”.

She added: “All children deserve access to swimming and local authorities have a statutory responsibility to provide it.”

Femia said: “It really is a tragedy. The pool is very busy and very much loved by all. It would be unacceptable for it not to reopen.”

The ‘Save Wavelengths leisure pool’ petition wrote on their campaign page: “The council must find the money to fix it… Wavelengths Leisure Pool is a treasured resource for our children and families​ in the most ethnically diverse area of Lewisham.”

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