Frequently Asked Questions

Change is not always welcome. There are some members of the community that have objected to the plans so Hampton Pool Trust would like to take this opportunity to clarify a number of issues raised.

This page is designed to capture all the questions asked by stakeholders about the redevelopment and is broken up into sections.

1. The vision

The proposed redevelopment of Hampton Pool (July 2016)

Over the next few years, Hampton Pool Trust is set to make a multi-million-pound investment in the Pool and buildings to retain what makes it special whilst making the transformational changes necessary to keep this unique and special community gem for all generations and members of our community.

This page aims to set out the strategy for this significant change and answer some of the frequently asked questions.

Hampton Pool Trust believe it is critical to further develop the Pool because of the need to:
  • invest in all parts of the Hampton Pool Community including swimmers, staff and gym users to ensure we touch all parts of the community;
  • address a long tail of at least £3m (ex professional fees and inflationary allowances) expenditure needed on urgent maintenance that needs to be addressed if the development doesn’t go ahead;
  • create sustainable income streams and protect existing assets by investing in activities that are not solely dependent on good weather as without the additional income from the dryside and café improvements this urgent expenditure will not be achievable out of current surpluses;
  • respond to pool customers’ requests for improved facilities and family change.
  • ensure the Pool is environmentally sustainable;
  • comply with the law which requires the Pool to provide access to all.

2. Financials and the business case

The overall plan will cost £5.5m. However, as full funding is not yet secured it has been planned in three discrete stages. The first delivers the basic upgrade to both the Pool areas, gym and café facilities; the second includes improvements to plant equipment that will further improve sustainability; and the third will unite the old building to the new one and provide shelter over the sun deck. The Trust will not take on large loans and so if funding can’t be secured the Trust will deliver just the first (£2.5m) and second phase (additional £1m).
£600k is a surprisingly small sum compared to the capital investment needed to refurbish the building. To re-wire the facility £250k, to resurface the car park £150k, to refit the current changing rooms £500k, to etc, so the money would not last long. In total, there is at least £3m of expenditure needed on urgent maintenance that needs to be addressed if the development doesn’t go ahead. This is a cost that can only be funded from current surplus is no changes are made to the facility that can improve revenue. Given the ability to continue to generate an operating surplus of £100k a year it would take 30 years to fund this essential capital investment.
We are not forbidden from borrowing and HPT has never promised to never be in debt. HPT has borrowed money in the form of soft loans in the past. Previous amounts borrowed have been noticeably smaller, but appropriate for our then income levels. The planned borrowings for the development are far larger but prudent and proportionate to our now greater income.
Project costs of the plan submitted to LBRuT are estimated to be £5.5m. This cost estimate, developed and refined by the quantity surveyor throughout the design process includes construction costs, professional fees and inflationary allowances.

HPT together with YMCA LSW have £1m in cash. The realisation of the project is dependent on the successful application and receipt of significant grant funding. If grant funding is not available, then HPT has explored the possibility of soft loans.

HPT are committed to realising the full potential of this development project and within our means, we will seek to secure the necessary grants required.

If the project is unable to attract sufficient grants then up to £1.5m from soft loans is being considered, most likely repayable over a 10-year period. Existing surplus generation will not cover this so the new development will need to have some additional income generation aspects in order to repay the loan. The Pool-side is already operating at capacity. Therefore, additional income sources will be in the form of a slightly larger and more accessible gym space and canteen (to build on existing income streams from both of these.

If grants and subsidies are not achievable in the current financial environment then prudent borrowing backed by a conservative business plan is the only realistic option to fund some of the development.
The LEIF debt would be £1m. The interest rate payable is not a commercial rate. It is the European reference rate. This is floating during the term of the loan. The LEIF loan would be repayable over 10 years. We also have a soft loan of £500,000 from YMCA repayable over 20 years.
The borrowings will be only a proportion of the funding. The loan in the business plan of £1m will come from the LEIF fund, who will only lend the money if their calculations indicate that it can be repaid from savings made by the environmentally efficient design, i.e. from cost savings.
There is a business plan which has been tested and refined throughout the project.

Firstly, RSM, formerly Baker Tilly and based in central London, were engaged to build a working financial model. This is needed to show financial viability of the project and will be the basis for applications to any external and grant funders. The model was built from the current facility operations and projected out for twenty years. Conservative assumptions were applied for growth rates of the existing business plus the post development gym, canteen/shop usage in addition to limiting loan level to ensure clear-headroom.

In addition, HPT engaged an external consultant firm (Mosaic, the leisure database company) to gauge the community potential for the dry-side. This showed that the area had latent demand for nearly 1,000 gym users. The model was built using the minimum number of extra gym users to preserve the central focus of the Pool but give some additional robustness to the surplus to help cover the costs of development plus future diversification of offering. This was just under 600, up from the current 320 gym users. The profile of the gym offering compliments the swim-side as the swim peaks during July-Sept and gym attendance peak is outside this.

The financial modelling and additional projections, with conservative assumptions, indicates that a loan of £1.5m is serviceable by the increased revenue expected.
HPT engaged an external consultant firm (Mosaic, the leisure database company) to gauge the community potential for the dry-side. This showed that the area had latent demand for nearly 1,000 gym users. The model was built using the minimum number of extra gym users to preserve the central focus of the Pool but give some additional robustness to the surplus to help cover the costs of development plus future diversification of offering. This was just under 600, up from the current 320 gym users. The profile of the gym offering compliments the swim-side as the swim peaks during July-Sept and gym attendance peak is outside this.

The financial modelling and additional projections, with conservative assumptions, indicates that a loan of £1.5m is serviceable by the increased revenue expected.
Although the use of the Pool has grown since it was re-opened in 1985 there is a limit to the number of swimmers that can we accommodated. Over the past few years the swimming numbers have plateaued (see graph below swim entries 2011 to 2015 with trend line). The only way to increase revenue has been to increase the number of higher value-added activities (e.g. lessons) or to charge more.

swim-entries-trend-line

That is why the focus is now on ‘dry-side’ – catering and gym – to raise maintain revenue and create a surplus for much needed capital expenditure on the fabric and equipment of the facility.

Table 1: Surplus income from Swim, Catering and Gym, Financial Year 2015-2016

Revenue table
The scheme has been designed with £2m and £3.5m options.

Some preliminary work has been done to explore what smaller scale options might look like in the event that we are not able to achieve the full grant funding required, these have been presented as the £2m and the £3.5m schemes. In broad brush terms, all schemes include a lift to the second floor.

In the £2m scheme the plant room would not be upgraded, a second studio would not be built, there would be less work on the existing building and the café. In the £3.5m scheme the plant room would be upgraded and moved, a second studio built, there would the same level of work on the existing building and the café as in the £2m scheme.

However, as noted above, further consultations with stakeholders will be undertaken if the scope of the brief is reduced to ensure the upgrades to the facility continue to meet the needs of current users and the local community.
The building works will be paid for out of existing funds, annual profits, concert profits that grants and some ‘soft’ low-interest loans if necessary.

3. Balancing Wetside vs Dryside

HPT’s core commitment is to swimming – the main building is going back to swimming areas. The gym new area is small not a virgin mega centre and the increase in size is primarily because of the focus on accessibility. Alternative plans put forward by another potential management contractor to develop the site had included a double storey building at the east end of the car park of around 1,000 square metres which the Board had rejected as too large and out of character with the ethos of the Pool.

HPT’s brief was to ensure that the areas available for various dry-side activities and for supporting facilities generally are extended and improved in a balanced manner ensuring that the balance and feel of Hampton Pool is preserved over the long term, whilst maximising the development potential of Hampton Pool.

The graph below shows the proportion of useable building devoted to sim and gym. If you add in the area of the Pools, the Pool surround and the grass area used by swimmers there can be no doubt that the Pool and its users are the jewels in the crown of Hampton Pool.

user proportions


The graph below shows the numbers of people using the Pool compared to the numbers of people using the gym and studio. Pool use is seasonal with summer months seeing peak usage. Gym use is more regular but has a seasonal peak over the winter months.

Monthly attendance swim and gym 2014-2015 with projected increase in gym attendance

Monthly attendance
Swimming pools are very expensive to run as they have very high fixed costs. Sports England in Affordable Community Swimming Pools gives examples of the typical revenue and costs of a variety of different size swimming pools, though it is important to note that their predicted surpluses do not cover sinking funds for periodic/cyclic maintenance, debt charges and centralised support costs. Sport England’s recommendations to be a successful pool include:

  • having an imaginative, varied and full programme providing opportunities for secondary spend through café, vending machines, merchandise;
  • links to other healthy living leisure activities create greater user appeal and critical mass.

To understand the contribution of dryside activities (café, gym and fitness studio/s) to the survival and overall surplus to swimming pools (as demonstrated by Sport England), please study the financials from Hampton Pool in the following chart.

Table 1: Surplus income from Swim, Catering and Gym, Financial Year 2015-2016

Revenue table


Another pool would be costly to build and run and would not generate the surpluses in the short term to pay for the upgrade of the current facility. An extension to the current pool would be expensive, mean that the Pool would be out of action for some time, increase running costs, increase usage at peak times etc.

4. The design and maintaining the essence of the Pool

The redevelopment very much puts swimming back into the heart of the facility – by taking the gym and fitness studio out of the existing building the size of the changing rooms can be increased significantly. However, our research shows there is significant demand for a new gym and fitness studios (public survey in 2013).

The current gym space is below the minimum recommended size and is not DD compliant. This is very much in line with the strategy to create a sustainable year-round income stream and reduces the pressure on the Pool usage thus ensuring we retain the comfort of a swim at Hampton Pool.
The building will be retained but refurbished. With the addition of features that improve access for all members of the community e.g. a lift will be installed to provide access for all to the roof top café overlooking Bushy Park.
The formation of the gym was to create some additional ‘dryside’ income during the winter months and low season when the swimming numbers fell dramatically and the Pool lost money. In the 1990s, the number of customers was far fewer than it is today and the gents changing room was underutilised. It was cut in half to house what is the current gym. The gym was modernised in 2007 with new windows and a raised floor and is now very successful.

However, the gym is cramped, the machines are really tightly packed, access is limited and the gym is not compliant with modern Sports England Recommendations of 5 square metres per machine or exercise area. Although the proposed new gym is a little over double the size of the current one, the effective usable space is only increased by 40% once the machines and mats are spaced correctly.
The current studio sectioned off the other changing room in 2006 and was designed to expand the dryside exercise offering. The studio is used for Yoga, Pilates, exercises and spinning and it is also used for staff training and lifeguard courses.

However, the studio has a column in the middle and at 45 square metres in size it is limited to class numbers of only 10-12 depending on sport. This not only limits the viability and profitability of the classes but also causes disappointment for customers when classes are full. The Sports England recommendation for a studio is a minimum of 80 square metres allowing for classes of 16-20 which makes them a better proposition all round.
A second studio dedicated to spinning would be a considerable advantage for equipment movement and storage purposes. Having two rooms will allow a flexible approach to studio use and create the potential to hold additional classes.
Hampton Pool Trust is a not-for-profit educational charity. Hampton Pool was saved and reopened in 1985 by members of the community for the benefit of the local community. Hampton Pool Trust is committed to providing swimming and associated health facilities to the community.
As stated above, Hampton Pool Trust is a not-for-profit educational charity. Hampton Pool was saved and reopened in 1985 by members of the community for the benefit of the local community. Hampton Pool Trust is committed to providing swimming and associated health facilities to the community.
It is not envisioned to change the pricing policy. Prices are agreed each year between our management contractor (YMCA LSW) and Hampton Pool Trust. Both organisations are ‘not-for-profit’ and any surpluses are put back into the facility. It is in the interest of both organisations to keep the facility affordable. This mirrors the Trust’s commitment to providing a community pool for the community. The aim has always been to keep pricing at an affordable level while covering operating costs.
The phased approach to building work should mean that we can keep the Pool and facilities open for the majority of the time. It is not envisioned that the facilities would close for an extended period. There may be occasions when there may be some disruption but we will work with project managers and contractors to minimise any closures the Pool. As with previous building works there may be some temporary changing facilities while refurbishment takes place.
A leisure centre is defined as a “large public building with many different sports and exercise facilities for a range of leisure pursuits, such as a gym, exercise studio, sports hall, café, and meeting rooms”.

By that definition, Hampton Pool already is a leisure centre and we must thank the Board back in the 1990s for creating the gym and subsequently the studio and successful café. But for clarification, the development is relatively small and in keeping with the Pool and the site. It takes full advantage of unused and available space to provide an integrated overall design which can be delivered in affordable phases.
The development plans aim to add to the ‘essence’ of the pool, not take anything away. The deck area is retained and improved. The view though to the pool has been moved to one side to help with customer traffic-flow through reception and to make the interior of the main building more useable.
The design of the buildings are a key aspect of the look and functionality of Hampton Pool. The proposed new designs are sympathetic to existing ‘feel’ and that is why we have appointed an award-winning architect with a background in public buildings.
It will still be open and not an enclosed area.
There was a beauty parade of potential firms. The Board consulted with three management contractors and asked them to produce an architectural plan of their vision of the development of the Pool. Two of the management contractors presented fairly well-developed plans. One was based on information gathered from consultation with the Board and staff and one was a solution designed without any consultation with the board, a double storey building at the east end of the car park of around 1,000 square metres.

The Board were impressed by the Will Wimshurst firm’s architectural approach, work on community projects and very reasonable fee structure. The Board believed that they were getting proven value for money and inspiring design and a further contest seemed necessary and a waste of further time and money.

The Board appointed architects Wimshurst Pelleriti to begin feasibility studies based on the brief that the Board and its members had approved after consultation and public forums. The Board were then able to look at appointing support consultants such as Mechanical and Engineering (M&E), Project Managers and Quantity Surveyors.

5. Practical implications of the redevelopment

Hampton Pool Trust is aware of the pressure put on local parking and traffic on very hot days when thousands of people descend on the Pool. With this in mind their brief was to develop the Pool in such a way as to minimise the impact on any change of use on local residents.

The scale of the new development was reduced, the dry side was developed rather than building an additional pool as gyms tend to be used more over the winter and so increases in usage would not necessarily add to parking and traffic on hot summer days.
To minimise any increase in traffic movement and offsite parking there will be additional secure bike racks and a re-laid and set out car park to improve use of space. An independent Transport Report said that around 150 to 250 more site users per day are anticipated. This increase will be spread throughout the 16-hour day, therefore associated vehicle movements will not create a significant impact. Cutbacks were introduced into the gym wall to accommodate neighbours concerns as were changes to the location of the bin compound, chemical store and substation.

6. Other questions

This is not a YMCA project. The development is a Hampton Pool Trust initiative, initially proposed by the late Marshall Lees as one of 16 resolutions presented and voted on at that AGM in 2014. His proposals reinforced similar views to the Board. The resolution was passed and the Board has continued with a development plan.
The YMCA is contributing £500,000, Project Management and professional knowledge of the trends in the fitness market which will ensure we build a future-proof gym.
The YMCA has not taken over. They have been invited and have entered a management agreement to operate the Hampton Pool on behalf of the Hampton Pool Trust. For 20 years since the Pool was reopened in 1985 the Pool was operated ‘in-house’ by the Trust – basically a bunch of enthusiastic and part-time amateurs who did a good job. They hired a manager and all the lifeguards, undertook maintenance and outsourced payroll, HR etc. and relied heavily on volunteer help.

In 2005-2007 and after the Pool and building had been refurbished, the Board realised that the usage was growing significantly and turnover and professional management was needed to continue the Pool’s success. A deal was struck with the YMCA LSW and there has seen steady growth in Pool users under their careful guidance and management. Customer numbers have doubled, demand for swimming lessons has increased and a wide range of popular classes have been created. Staff retention is good and maintenance and upkeep is more consistent.
User figures would indicate that it is, as since 2007, income has dramatically increased and footfall has doubled. More and more people from the local community have been able to benefit from improved health by swimming or using the gym at Hampton Pool. In this YMCA has been a victim of its own success as some people think that the Pool is now too busy.

The YMCA LSW has also provided much needed cash flow for many capital items including a soft loan of £100,00 for the reworking necessary of the newly refurbished changing rooms in 2010 at a cost of £161,000. Other items funded include the upgrade of the small plant room, the filters in the main plant room, the new pool surround as well as other periodic and cyclical maintenance.

They have improved the management systems with emap and other computerised information systems, upgraded swimming lesson booking and parent interaction, brought in smart meters and weekly carbon monitoring reports, systematically improved health and safety provision at the Pool.

As part of the agreement, the operating surplus is shared equally three ways between Hampton Pool Trust, the Pool Improvement Fund (PIF) and the management contractor.
After a year of investigation and rigorous consideration of three management contractors, the Board chose YMCA LSW to continue as our management contractor. The other contractors, GLL and Fusion are nationwide operators with many sites. The concern was the Trust could potentially lose control of its own vision as Hampton Pool would be a very small element in such large organisations.

The Board felt that not only were YMCA LSW the most sympathetic and well positioned for the long-term management of our Pool, they also had a good working relationship with an award winning architectural firm that were also well aligned with the Trust’s vision.
The Trust has saught the views expressed by HPT members, customers and the wider community between 2011 and 2016. This is to ensure that the areas available for various dry-side activities and supporting facilities are extended and improved in a balanced manner; that the feel of Hampton Pool is preserved over the long term; whilst maximising the development potential of Hampton Pool.

Stakeholders that have been consulted with include Hampton Pool Trust (HPT) members, Poolside Swim and BBQ Club, Gym members, Thames Turbo (TT), Hampton Pool customers and hirers, Hampton Pool Consultative Group, The Royal Parks (TRP), London Borough of Richmond upon Thames (LBRuT), Hampton Fuel Allotment Charity (HFAC), LBRuT Sports Development team, Sport Richmond, LBRuT ward councillors, YMCA LSW, local residents, local schools, local community groups including The Hampton Society (the Hampton residents’ association).

Alongside regular updates in the HPT newsletter, Poolside Chat, which is made available in paper copy and online to the users of Hampton Pool and visitors to the HPT website, There has been a large number of meetings, consultations and communications to involve stakeholders in the development of the design brief and review of the proposed building throughout its development. There have been over 37 meetings and consultations during the period.

The following are examples of changes made resulting from consultations with stakeholders:
  • Changed from small scale development to a more comprehensive plan to accommodate the request for a plan to future-proof the pool for the next 25 years;
  • TRP advised HPT that development should not be in the car park adjacent to SSSI
  • Soft play area rejected;
  • Family change to be included;
  • To not lose car parking spaces;
  • Biomass boilers rejected;
  • To ensure that the new carpark surface is bicycle and wheel chair friendly;
  • Reduced the size of west end development proposed in Hampton Pool Programme Study of March 2015 from 779 m2 to 607 m2 for final plan, a decrease of 22% of which 422 m2 will be gym and studios;
  • Separate dry side change removed;
  • Vista from building to pool to be retained;
  • Lido feature of the viewing step was originally to be retained but further safety concerns were made for it to be filled in
  • Add in first aid room;
Poolside Swim & BBQ Club are represented on the Hampton Pool Consultative Group. The plans have been presented at regular intervals for inspection and comment.

 

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