Could King Alfred be moving?

Posted On 25 Jan 2023 at 3:27 pm

King Alfred Leisure Centre – Picture courtesy of Wikiwand

The council is looking for alternative sites for a new leisure centre to replace the crumbling King Alfred.

The Hove leisure centre’s pools are currently closed until Easter after its ageing boiler system failed.

In the last two decades, two major schemes to replace the centre on the same site have fallen through, most recently in 2019.

Today, Brighton and Hove City Council announced it was looking for landowners with potential sites in the west of the city to come forward.

And it said it was planning a series of workshops and drop-in sessions to ask residents what they think should replace the current centre.

The options are keeping it on the same site, building on council-owned land elsewhere, or buying land. All three would involve developing all or part of the current King Alfred site.

Any site would have to have parking and be accessible by public transport.

Councillor Martin Osborne, co-chair of the Tourism, Economy, Communities and Culture Committee said: “We are aware of how much the King Alfred Leisure Centre is valued by local people.

“But, as the current boiler issues and emergency closure illustrates, we need to move forward and progress our plans to develop a replacement centre.

“Developing a new West Hub would not only offer new, state of the art leisure facilities, but also improve the health and wellbeing of residents providing a range of sporting opportunities for all.

“Getting views from residents will be a vital part of the planning process to ensure that a replacement leisure facility meets their needs, both now and in the future.

“Therefore, I would urge people to look out for opportunities to get involved and let us know what they think.”

The council’s sports facilities investment plan, published in 2021, includes developing three large leisure hubs in the north, east and west of the city by 2031.

A new west hub facility would provide a more modern, energy efficient building that meets local needs, attracts visitors, and enables the city to host major competitions and events.  

Officers are currently in the process of undertaking a review of the current site and others in its ownership.

  1. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    There have in fact been three proposals in the past two decades: the Citygrove gambling and burgers one; the Gehry one which mysteriously shrank from four towers to two and a encircling bunker; and the recent one redolent of a Seventies mall.

    It is over fifty years since Hove Borough Council bought the scrub land to the west for such a building but it has remained a car park.

  2. Soph Reply

    Something about this does not add up. The boilers are broken, so you need to move the whole facility to a new site?? It’s a great location – accessible by car, bus, bicycle and on foot. We all know Hove is being sold off to developers for ‘luxury’ flats (ugly, intimidating monstrosities for the rich and transient) and OUR facilities are few and far between, but you really have some gall if you want to *move* the KA. (The huge block you allowed to be built next door was pushing it!) It’s more likely that you don’t have the money to fix the boilers, so you want to piggyback the KA onto another development. Do let us know, won’t you. Because we all know public consultations count for nothing in this city. The attitude of the current administration is ‘we know what’s best for you’ unfortunately – and it seems to involve ‘grand plans’ which place further stress on resident communities. Hove was better off when it was self-governing. You need to appreciate that each area has its own community and atmosphere. The concept of loading all facilities into centralised ‘Hubs’ is alarming for many, who just want to keep their own facilities within easy reach (and who knows, maybe even improve them!).

  3. Billy Short Reply

    This stinks a bit to me.
    First we’re told the boiler at the swimming pool has broken down and that repairs may take until Easter.
    Now we’re told they are looking for land for a new leisures centre.
    Is the reality that they have no intention of repairing the boiler and so we’ve already lost our Hove pool?
    Is the underlying issue the costs of running such an old swimming pool – and the current energy costs involved?

    The refurbishment plan with the King Alfred was always that they would find a developer interested in the land, and the city would get a new pool on site as part of the deal.

    The costs to the developer are: The demolition of the existing buildings, ground work, planning, and then building a new high-rise housing estate with the new leisure centre included.
    Developers then backed out when, firstly the Gehry designs were seen as too big and too dramatic for the Hove seafront skyline, and then the second developer got cold feet at the costs of building a modern leisure centre in an uncertain property market.
    (As it happens, the local property market has remained fairly robust.)

    I’m guessing the latest solution being offered here is that the developer gets the whole site for a fee, and then the council uses that money to build a new leisure centre on cheaper land elsewhere.
    So in other words we probably end up with a pool elsewhere, away from the sea and probably half way up the Downs. Not a great deal for us residents, I’d say.

    When you see what they managed over in Worthing with Splash Point, you have to wonder why they can’t get a similar deal done here. But I guess the wait goes on for a long term solution.
    In the short term, we want the existing pool back open.

    • Martha Green Reply

      Billy, does being in a perpetual state of faux outrage ever get boring? Fyi, Splash Point was funded by building an enormous tower block next to it.

      • Billy Short Reply

        That was exactly my point about Splash Point in Worthing. It was a deal with developers that has resulted in a positive outcome.
        Not sure what you mean about faux outrage, but I am annoyed the KA pool is shut and with the possibility of it not re-opening.

        • Benjamin Reply

          You just proved his point, Billy.

          • Billy Short

            You’ll have to explain how you think a new swimming pool might be funded in the current economic climate.

  4. Hovelassies Reply

    Current location is ideal – walking distance for thousands of people, cycling distance for thousands more and smack bang in the middle of a part of town people like to be. Where is there any land in clos proximity in the West of the city with ” parking and be accessible by public transport”? The basin area is very poorly served by public transport and cannot cope with more traffic. Do what they did in Worthing. Knock down the dinosaur and build a new, efficient, leisure centre to last 40 years on the current footprint. Would be fabulous adjacent to the pending Kingsway to Sea project.

  5. Tim Johnson Reply

    The current administration will sell it to some developer. The proceeds will be swallowed against the cost of the failed i360/cycle lanes/whatever the present green fascism comes up with. As we all know, our city is being run to satisfy the ego and pockets of our local politicians and satisfy/obtain votes from the short term residents/students rather than anything to benefit the majority, the long term tax payers and residents.

  6. Technique Reply

    So a GREEN Councillor; Councillor Martin Osborne is proposing to “develop a replacement centre” because they can’t fix a couple of boilers ???

    And how does that fit in with the Green party ideology, and the councils’ plans to be carbon-neutral and meet net zero requirements ??????

    The Green party are clueless.

    • Benjamin Reply

      Utilitarianism is a perfectly valid strategy here. I don’t think you need me to spell out the cost benefits of replacing something that has ever increasing costs to maintain, especially when it already aligns with a pre-approved plan to develop anyway.

      Your outrage is disingenuous at best, sir.

      • Helen Reply

        First, you’re aware KA is currently closed until after Easter due to boiler problems?
        Second, would you please explain how any scheme is going to be funded?
        Third, you say pre-approved plan to develop anyway. What exactly has been pre-approved, redevelop the whole site for housing, a leisure centre or something else?

  7. Howard Reply

    We need to follow the example shown by Worthing by developing a new leisure centre BEFORE the old one shuts and gets developed – either on the vacant land/carpark next to the existing pools or somewhere else (though quite where that could be is not really clear).

    Otherwise we risk going down the road of the Black Rock Lido, which was demolished in the early 80s on a promise of new facilities at the Marina that never materialised. We could easily end up with nothing but a tower block where there used to be a public leisure facility.

    I am personally fond of the 1930s part of the King Alfred and ideally would like to see it preserved, but having a functioning leisure centre in Hove is more important. I also have to accept that the existing facility can’t continue for very long – it is, apparently, hideously expensive to run and the very opposite of energy efficient.

    • Benjamin Reply

      I agree with your points here, very keenly articulated. It will be important for the community groups to continue to ensure that plans are followed through with participatory engagement.

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