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Reply To: Desirability of 3rd Pool

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Response posted on behalf of Richard Rawlinson.

A second pool is certainly an important sports priority, and is envisaged as an option in the moderate West Wing plan.

The best place to understand sports priorities that have been defined is by reviewing the Sports Horizon open meeting presentation and recording from 6 October, which are on the Club website, in the Horizon section. We looked at the sports usage statistics that we have, and the self-reported statistics from the satisfaction survey (the full survey is on the Club website). (We have also compiled some stats on eg registered croquet players, but for some sports like croquet there are many unregistered players also, so these stats are not very useful.). Although the numbers do not show any notable growth in the use of the indoor pool, we are aware of the capacity issues at certain point; overall usage statistics are helpful only up to a certain point. In the member satisfaction survey, the indoor pool and its changing rooms were the second lowest ranked sports facility (the tennis pavilion was the lowest ranked); dissatisfaction with the indoor pool is particularly high in the 75+ age group.

Priorities for development projects have been identified in a variety of ways, including usage statistics, responses to the various surveys, operational data, comments in open meetings and from the Horizon Consultative Forum. The principal subcommittees have played a major role, and in this case the sports committee is the relevant one. The second indoor pool is one of their key priorities.

We will shortly be launching a survey to all members to try to establish members general appetite for development, their willingness to pay for it, and their priorities as to the areas to be developed. Main Committee will then approve a overall development programme, which will identify which areas of the Club we will modify, for what purpose and in what sequence, all in line with the financial constraints established on the basis of members’ views of trade-offs between cost, disruption and improvement. The specific design for each area to be developed will be created as and when it comes time to move forward with that project.

You suggest that we go ahead with a smaller project in the West Wing, focused purely on a second indoor pool. However, the West Wing is capable of providing solutions not just for swimming, but for a variety of other identified needs, including more space for the Café (the old Harness Room is not considered adequate), better changing facilities, a sports bar and various other needs. Different members will have different priorities, and we are trying to accommodate as many of those that have been validated and prioritised by the committees as we can, looking across the whole estate.

The focused project you suggest would makes sense, if you believe that the second pool is a high priority and the other improvements are not needed, or at least much less important. However, there were other sports priorities that were equally important or higher priority, notable the tennis pavilion and its changing rooms, and the gym expansion. Moreover, if there were a single leading priority at the overall Club level, it would probably be in the F&B area and within that, the improvements to the Café. Of the 868 members responding and commenting on development priorities, about 500 suggested improving our food service facilities, while about 90 suggested the indoor pool and changing rooms (and the changing rooms came in for particular criticism).

Improvements to the Café are the number 1 priority for F&B and they will involve major changes to the West Wing, so we don’t think it would make sense to do a project in the West Wing focused just on the second pool. Which leads us back to the proposals that have been developed by TRA, which include (or can include) a second pool, but also address other priorities. When you look at the moderate schemes TRA have developed I expect you will be surprised that the second pool is an option and not a central requirement. We will have to address this question, as and when we come to the design of the West Wing. There are some trade-offs, in that the social and other facilities like studios could take the space required for a second indoor pool. There has also been some vocal opposition expressed to the second pool; I hope and expect that, in the spirit of compromise, members will support a plan that provides the facilities that they each think is important, even if it also provides facilities that others think important but they do not. Put simply, I do not think we would currently get the votes for a plan that added only the second indoor pool; the second pool is much more likely to be supported, if it is a component of a programme (indeed, a West Wing project) that also provides facilities for members who are most exercised e.g. about the F&B facilities. The survey statistics suggest there are many more of the latter than there are those who actively want a second pool.

I hope that is clear on the approach that we are adopting and the reasons why; I understand that you would prefer to go more directly and immediately to create a second indoor pool and this approach is likely to be slower and will certainly involve more overall expense, but I hope you can take comfort from the fact that a second indoor pool is very firmly part of the Horizon planning.