News Walthamstow

Location for promised lido revealed

A sports ground in Walthamstow is the “preferred location” for a promised new lido
By Victoria Munro

Coppermill Swifts FC playing on Low Hall Sports Ground (Credit: Little Red Hen)
Coppermill Swifts FC playing on Low Hall Sports Ground (Credit: Little Red Hen)

A new lido, promised in Waltham Forest Labour’s election manifesto earlier this year, is being planned “in the heart of the borough”. 

This morning, Waltham Forest Council announced that, after a “comprehensive search to find the most suitable place”, the preferred location is Low Hall Sports Ground in Walthamstow.

The lido is part of a “vision to create a health and wellbeing hub”, building on the ground’s existing sport facilities, which include numerous football pitches.

However, the ground is legally protected Metropolitan Open Land, meaning the council must demonstrate there are “special circumstances” to justify building on it. 

Council leader Grace Williams said: “Opening a new lido in Waltham Forest was one of our manifesto commitments and I’m happy to see we’ve now got a preferred site at Low Hall.

“Our ambition is to create a new health and leisure hub that will give a huge boost to the local economy as well as the potential new lido.”

Last year, the council provoked outrage by allowing Secret Cinema, a company that stages immersive film screenings, to occupy a large part of Low Hall from July to September

While the screenings never took place – with the company citing uncertainty around Covid restrictions – local residents and sports clubs urged councillors not to deprive them of the space for the sake of a private company.

However, in her statement, Cllr Williams said that the council “will work with all sports clubs currently using Low Hall to ensure the current facilities are maintained and enhanced”.

She added: “We are determined to bring local people who use the current site with us if our vision for a new lido in the borough progresses.

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“We hope to ensure everyone has the opportunity to enjoy outdoor swimming in the future.”

The announcement comes during a fundraising campaign by a group of volunteers, aiming to create East London’s version of Hampstead Heath swimming ponds in Leyton.

The East London Waterworks Park team hope to raise £3million to buy land opposite the Lee Valley Ice Centre and transform it into a “brownfield rainforest”.

According to a council press release, Low Hall was chosen due to “its position at the centre of the borough, its excellent public transport and cycling links and its existing sports facilities”.

The proposed lido would form part of a “nature trail for Lea Bridge”, connecting the nature reserve on the ground to Walthamstow Marshes and the Wetlands.

The release adds that the surrounding neighbourhood “is a significant growth area in the borough”, where it hopes to see new homes built, and that consultation with existing residents “showed a lack of leisure facilities was one of residents’ main concerns”.

Responding to the news, Conservative group leader Emma Best said her party were “disappointed but not surprised” that council leaders had discounted a possible location in the north of the borough. 

She said: “It is galling to see the Larkswood site, with its historic lido links, was discounted because there was insufficient public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure. 

“Yet, simultaneously this council is arguing it is acceptable to overdevelop the same site with towering blocks without parking because there are ‘good public transport links’.

“In terms of the Low Hall site selected, the proposal thus far poses more questions than it answers in terms of feasibility of delivery and impact. As a group we will be evaluating this further in order to provide helpful scrutiny as this proposal progresses.”

A report seeking to “proceed with the vision and preferred location” for the lido will be put to council leaders for approval at a meeting on 1st December.

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