Brighton and Hove News » Councilors urged to replace or revamp ‘Soviet-era’ swimming pool

A mother of two has described Brighton and Hove’s run-down public swimming pools as ‘Soviet times’ and would like improvements.

Nicole Anderson and Sons

Nicole Anderson, who swims weekly at King Alfred and the Prince Regent, wants Brighton and Hove City Council to remodel the Hove site as the pool is cold and falling apart.

She plans to ask councilors at a meeting on Thursday (3 February) to refurbish the King Alfred as she is “at the end of her life and no longer fit for purpose”.

Ms. Anderson, whose family is from Germany, said the swimming facilities in Germany have always been modern and clean.

A German friend told her when she saw King Alfred for the first time that she cried – and Ms. Anderson said: ‘You wouldn’t find something like that even in the poorest town.

“In Germany it is just normal to have very modern, clean and good swimming facilities. Not just tourism, but stuff for local residents.

“The King Alfred looks like it belongs in the Soviet era, inside and out. The only reason I go there is for my kids. I shouldn’t have to go to Burgess Hill for the triangle.”

A poolside incident prompted her to pop the question. After leaving the King Alfred with their sons, aged eight and nine, they saw a man screaming angrily across the pool.

The man screamed that it had been derelict for 20 years – and now she wants to know if there are any plans to renovate or upgrade it.

An avid swimmer, Ms Anderson was concerned when she read a report from Swim England last year that found 40 per cent of the country’s swimming facilities were under threat.

She would like to see something in Brighton and Hove that functions as a tourist attraction, similar to the proposed Therme Manchester or Tropical Islands near Berlin with their indoor beaches.

Ms Anderson said: “Why don’t we build a tourist attraction that we can use all year round? Manchester is getting this most amazing swimming facility that will bring in revenue all year round.

“It doesn’t matter what the weather is like. Let’s face it, the weather here isn’t great even in the summer.”

King Alfred Leisure Center – Image courtesy of Wikiwand

Various ideas for improving the King Alfred have come and gone for generations. The latest venture collapsed in October 2019 when Crest Nicholson pulled out of a £228million project with the Starr Trust.

The council worked for years with Crest Nicholson and the Starr Trust on plans to build houses and a new leisure center on the Kingsway site.

In October 2019, former council leader Nancy Platts said a bipartisan project committee would review plans for new leisure facilities.

Last July, the council released its 2021-31 sports facilities investment plan, recommending the “creation of three major multi-sport hub facilities for the city.” This included an eight-lane, 25-meter pool to replace the King Alfred.

Ms Anderson’s question will come to councilors at a “virtual public engagement” session due to start at 4.30pm on Thursday. The meeting will be webcast on the Council’s website.

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Mike Hunter

Mike is the owner of the local pool shop. He's been in the business for over 20 years and knows everything there is to know about pools. He's always happy to help his customers with whatever they need, whether it's advice on pool maintenance or choosing the right chemicals. He's also a bit of a pool expert, and is always happy to share his knowledge with anyone who's interested.

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