Why are you planning to replace Chiltern Pools?
Chiltern Pools is 53 years old and because of its design and condition it is becoming uneconomical to operate. Other buildings on the site are also aging and becoming expensive to operate; in the long term they will need replacing. The Chiltern Lifestyle Centre creates a once in a lifetime opportunity to re-provide all these facilities in a single building.
What facilities are being proposed?
8-lane 25 metre swimming pool with viewing
Diving / teaching pool alongside a kids' splash pad area
4 badminton court sports hall
Dry diving training facility
2 x squash courts
Children's soft play area and clip 'n' climb
Pool Spectator area
150 station gym
Community centre (events/theatre space and community meeting spaces)
Why are you proposing these facilities?
The Council undertook an independent leisure study which identified the key facilities Chiltern District Council should provide if the existing Chiltern Pools leisure centre was to close. Chiltern Leisure Needs Strategy.
When will the new Lifestyle Centre be built?
Following planning permission and the business case approval works to develop the Lifestyle Centre is scheduled to commence in late 2019 and be completed by Autumn 2021.
What consultation with the public has taken place?
We have conducted three public consultations over the last two years which have collectively attracted over 4,500 responses, with overwhelming support for the new Lifestyle Centre and proposed facilities. This has included consultation on what facilities should be provided and the positioning of the centre.
We have also held numerous public information events at the Council offices, local leisure centres, schools, community groups, parent and baby groups and more. We have also advertised the scheme and the opportunity to comment via social media, our websites and the local press.
Please see the public consultations page which chronologically outlines the consultation process to date in more detail.
Will the creation of a new unitary council in Bucks impact on this?
Business as usual will continue unless we are instructed otherwise by the new Buckinghamshire Council’s Shadow Authority.
How much will the new facility cost and will this affect my Council Tax bill?
The project will pay for itself over a 40 year period as a result of income from the new centre.
It will require capital investment and we don’t expect there to be any additional cost to council tax payers.
Chiltern District Council has in principle confirmed funding support from Sport England to offset the cost of building the new facility.
Why can’t you just refurbish the current centre?
Keeping the existing centre running instead of building a new one would result in a considerable cost to the council. The amount of work that would be required to make the current centre fit for purpose both now and for the future is simply not economical. Building a brand new centre represents better value for money.
What happens if the Chiltern Lifestyle Centre does not go ahead?
If the development does not go ahead there is currently no formal decision as to what will happen to the existing facilities on-site. The existing Chiltern Pools facility does require significant investment in order that it can operate safely when the existing leisure operator contract comes to an end on 31 March 2020. The Council will have to consider if it is financially viable to continue operating Chiltern Pools after this period as well as examine other options for the King George V site.
What will happen to the Library and Youth Club buildings should the new Lifestyle Centre project not go ahead?
Both the library and Youth Club/Nursery buildings are currently owned and operated by Bucks County Council, therefore any decision as to the future operation of these facilities will be made by Bucks County Council up until the 31 March 2020. Following this date the new Buckinghamshire Council will be the responsible body.
I’ve heard that money from the Affordable Housing budget is being used to pay for the site, is this true?
We are aware that this rumour has been circulating and it is absolutely not correct.
What will happen to the existing leisure centre site?
When the new Chiltern Lifestyle Centre opens in 2021, one of the final acts will be to demolish the existing Chiltern Pools leisure centre and to clear the site upon which it sits. This will leave an area of bare land of approximately half an acre.
No decisions have been made yet about the land which will be left vacant when the current Chiltern Pools building is demolished. Any plans to develop that area would be subject to a separate planning application.
The Council is currently undertaking a feasibility study to establish options for the site. This is a commercially focused exercise designed to consider how the site can best contribute to the overall costs of the new Chiltern Lifestyle Centre. The study started in August 2018.
The study will consider a range of opportunities for the site, including further leisure provision, residential development and the creation of additional car parking. The options though are not limited to just these activities. The Council has asked that any other innovative or creative uses the appointed specialists can foresee are also presented.
The study itself will be used to inform future proposals. The final use of the land will be determined by Councillors representing the best interests of their communities, via the planning system in which residents will have the opportunity to directly input their thoughts and ideas.
Why isn’t the new centre going to be built in exactly the same place as the current one?
There are two main reasons why we are not planning to build the new centre in the same position on the site as the current one.
The first reason is that if we were to build the new leisure centre in the same place as the current one, it would mean no leisure centre for the entire duration of the building period, (a minimum of 18 months) as we would have to demolish the existing centre before starting construction of the new one.
A loss of facilities for the community for that amount of time is something which we wish to avoid.
The second reason is that we have looked at the site as a whole, including the positioning of the community hall etc. and have identified this option as being the best way to fit all the facilities onto the area available.
Is there a restrictive Covenant on the site?
A restrictive covenant is an agreement between two parties where one of the parties agrees to restrict the use of its land for the benefit of the other. On the Chiltern Lifestyle Centre site, owned by Chiltern District Council, a restrictive covenant is in place which restricts the owner’s use of the Chiltern Lifestyle Centre land for the purposes of:
A civic centre or other like public service and/or for recreation and/or open space in accordance with the Open Spaces Act 1906, the Public Health Act 1936 and the Physical Training and Recreation 1937.
On this basis, the proposed Chiltern Lifestyle Centre which will incorporate public services, recreational and community uses is a development that is expressly permitted by the Covenant.
The restrictive Covenant over the site does not restrict the land just to open space. It can be used for other public or recreation purposes too subject to planning permission.
What about providing appropriate infrastructure (car parks) and what will happen to the existing barn buildings?
The car park and protection of the barns have been key considerations and are being picked up and addressed through the planning process. The proposed development will provide 221 replacement car parking spaces ( including 12 accessible spaces, one DDA electric charging point, 10 standard electric charging points, 50 cycle parking spaces, eight motorbike spaces and one mini-bus parking bay) and because of the proposed location along King George V Road it will not impact on the historic barn buildings. It is also proposed to further enhance the barn buildings by surrounding them in a natural green landscaping. The parking areas are in a single place adjacent to the building (with the exception of the evening/weekend spaces) and access routes are much more straightforward, which significantly improves the situation.
Traffic surveys have been completed and we are in discussions with the Highways Authority (Bucks County Council). However, initial considerations are that the proposed numbers are accommodating at all times.
There is the ability to increase the number of evening and weekend spaces in the future, should demand require it.
Will there be a loss of green open space?
There will be a small loss of green open space but we consider that investing in a new leisure and community centre will have a greater impact on improving residents’ health and wellbeing than the current site and the benefits of this therefore outweigh the loss of the space.
To protect the open nature of the area, we have secured greater protection for the green space in Woodside Close, the green fringe along Chiltern Avenue.
What is a land swap and what level of protection does this provide to the green open space in the centre of Woodside Close?
Some of the areas of the Chiltern Leisure Centre site are public open space. One of these areas is the frontage of Chiltern Avenue.
This area, together with the open space land bounded by all sides on Woodside Close, formed part of a “Land Swap” to Amersham Town Council. In return, Amersham Town Council swapped a small part of the King George V Playing Fields for the development of the proposed Chiltern Leisure Centre to Chiltern District Council.
In September 2017 a public consultation regarding the land swap proposal was undertaken. 70 percent of responses were in favour of the proposal, which provided a clear mandate to proceed with the Open Space disposal notice.
This land swap was publicised by Chiltern District Council using an Open Space disposal notice on 26 March 2018. The Open Space disposal notice was published in the local press and on Chiltern District Council’s website. A public consultation on the disposal of the open space followed, which ran until 20 April 2018.
No objections were received to the Open Space Disposal Notice during the public consultation by Chiltern District Council.
Therefore, on 1 May 2018, Chiltern District Council’s Cabinet made the decision to pursue the Land Swap agreement with Amersham Town Council.
The Deed of Dedication granted by the Fields in Trust awards a higher level of protection for the Woodside Green in comparison to the existing covenant.
Planning control can be very good for protecting sites but national and local planning policies are subject to change. Pressure for development of urban open space, or open space on the urban fringe or in the countryside has never been greater. Fields in Trust use charity and contract law to establish binding agreements and commitments that protect valuable public recreation land. The Fields in Trust deed of dedication ‘creates a contractual interest in the land, protecting the usage of the site and installing the Trust essentially as a custodian, ensuring that the land is not disposed of. This protection can sit on top of any current protection or designation already in place but it is the most secure form of protection for open green space. This is due to Fields in Trust charitable objectives, namely to ensure provision of green recreational space, giving a contractual interest in a green space can only be seen as furthering protection of the land.’
Why is it proposed for only Amersham to get a new centre, what about the other areas in Chiltern - Chesham, Chalfont for instance?
As part of these proposals, we will also be investing in the leisure centres in Chalfont St Peter and Chesham, starting when the Chiltern Lifestyle Centre building work commences. This means local residents in Amersham and surrounding towns and villages will be able to access excellent facilities for physical activities, social interaction and community activities, enabling the community to lead healthier lifestyles.
Why are the flumes not included in the proposed new facility?
Whilst the flumes remain popular during weekend and school holiday periods, at other times they remain unused. Also, over recent years there has been a growth in specialist water fun parks which are seen more as a full day out destination which has impacted on usage at Chiltern Pools. The current site does not offer sufficient space to develop a large scale water park which would also be met with very challenging planning issues. It is proposed that the new centre provides a splash pad fun play area for young children as well as fun pool inflatable sessions for older children which includes slides and obstacle courses.
Why have you separated the playground into areas for different age groups?
We have listened to the comments from the public about the two different play areas being divided into age groups and have changed this so that both play areas are now suitable for older and younger children.
What will happen to the skate park and outdoor gym?
The skate park and outdoor gym will be re-provided on the new site.
What will happen to outdoor play area that was provided in 2015?
The new elements of the playground will be reused in the new development and the older equipment will be replaced. This will provide a better offering of play equipment for the community to enjoy.
Are the users of the existing community facilities happy with the new design?
We have been working with key stakeholders to meet their needs as best we can and still refining exact details as the project evolves..
Access will be fully compliant with building regulations; for example there will be a large lift suitable for sports wheelchair users. We will also be working with local disability groups to ensure the building is accessible and user friendly.
If the project goes ahead what will happen to existing users groups of the youth club and Drake Hall buildings?
The Council will make every effort to minimise any disruption should a new facility be developed. The proposed site location ensures that the existing Drake Hall and youth club buildings would not be affected during the construction phase ensuring existing services and activities can continue without any disruption.
Where will the youth club go?
Chiltern District Council is working with the youth club to find them premises near to the site so they can also use the leisure facilities at the CLC.
Will facilities affected by the proposed development (library, play area, exercise zone and skate park) be provided during the construction stage?
All facilities affected by the proposed development (library, play area, exercise zone and skate park) will be re-provided on a different area of the site ahead of any redevelopment of the current site.
Will the leisure centre be affordable and accessible for everyone?
Improving health and wellbeing and reducing health inequalities is a key objective of the Council. As with the existing Chiltern Pools leisure centre and community centre there will be charges to use the facilities. The operator contract will also offer concessions to financially disadvantaged residents, children and young people; details will be finalised nearer the time.
As evidenced in similar types of facilities across the UK the bringing together of the leisure centre, library, nursery and community centre into one building has resulted in a significant increase in participation.
Will we be able to see a model of the new Chiltern Lifestyle Centre?
It is the Council's intention to consider developing a model of the new centre which will be available for the public to view once planning permission has been granted and the building design finalised.
Are there any images available of the proposed new facility?
The latest design images are available to view on the design page of this website.