New Temple Cowley Pools & Fitness Centre!

The Campaign for a New Temple Cowley Pools & Fitness Centre!

D E M O L I T I O N    U P D A T E


June, 2016. 18 months after closure, the Temple Cowley Pools building still stands empty and unused. The pools have been drained, otherwise the building remains in excellent condition despite no maintenance. Remember, this is the building that the Labour-controlled city council claimed was at 'risk of imminent catastrophic failure' so had to be shut. And, oh yes, meanwhile over at the new Blackbird Leys Swimming Pool that cost over £13m of our money - guess what - it's leaking!!

Back at Temple Cowley Pools, Catalyst have finally submitted their planning application - apparently it's a 'done deal'. If developers ever wanted to know how to 'persuade' a planning committee to approve their application, this is it. Offer the Council cash - in this case, £3.6m, if they approve the application - whenever it arrives. No conflict of interest there then. We'll see what happens as the planning process proceeds - but with Labour (and only Labour) refusing to allow the community to take over the site and run it for the people, and with all committees now stacked with a Labour majority, we fully anticipate Catalyst's application to be waved through. And then we'll be into a legal challenge.

And in the meantime, at any moment Catalyst, supported by the Council (now we've found the incriminating emails we can prove it), could start demolition. Before they have the planning application approved. Is this right? Particularly when the Temple Cowley Campaign is ready, willing and able to take over the site, run the centre profitably at no cost to the taxpayer, or the City Council, and build flats. Even Catalyst's planners and architects thought it was a better plan than theirs. But still they doggedly persist in pursuing taking away a health and fitness facility - denying 40,000 of the population appropriate access to exercise affordably in a gym, swimming pool, studio, sauna/steam suite and yes, the only diving pool in Oxfordshire. Shame on Labour councillors for ignoring the whole truth and voting as they are told - shame on Oxford City Council officers for not doing what they are paid to do - provide facilities that the public want and need, where they want and need them.

   D U P L I C I T Y  E X P O S E D !


Things have taken yet another twist in the neverending story of who's responsible for demolition. We've had another email this week from the Council, revealing - well, we're not quite sure. Read on below.

So, remember the saga as it unfolded, described below? 

  • We (and you, dear readers, thanks) contact the Council to ask the to stop Catalyst demolishing Temple Cowely Pools
  • Labour Leader Cllr Bob Price denies categorically that the Council told Catalyst to demolish
  • Labour MP Andrew Smith dutifully repeats this assertion to everyone who contacts him
  • We uncover an email under FOI clearly showing it was the Council wot dunnit
  • Labour Leader Cllr Bob Price claims he 'wasn't aware' of this email - apparently he doesn't bother checking with his council officers on important things
  • Council Head of Housing Stephen Clarke is forced to put his head over the parapet with a quote to the paper saying they prepared a health and safety report for Catalyst

Well the report was news to us. So we asked the Council for a copy. Guess what came back? An email, delayed until after the election, saying:

"Mr Clarke informs me that although a report was referred to in the article, in fact no such report was produced, and thus the reference to it was an error on behalf of the Council." 

And it goes on to say:

"Mr Clarke also wishes me to convey his apologies for this factual inaccuracy contained in the quote."

No explanation - but how is it possible for a senior manager at the Council to say something that is so obviously untrue? We think the public should be told. And we still think that the Temple Cowley building should stand until and unless Catalyst get their planning permission in exchange for their pieces of silver.

Thanks to Oxfordshire Guardian - Oxmailtimes in Council pocket again?

Labour Council Leader "wasn't aware" of the email! So why didn't he check?!!!

At the Full Council Meeting on Monday, 18th April 2016, we asked why Council Leader Bob Price had misled the public in responding to their pleas to stop the demolition of the Temple Cowley Pools building. His response? He "wasn't aware" of the email! This raises so many questions about transparency, oversight and accountability in this Labour-run Council. Was Cllr Price so arrogant that he felt he didn't have to check the position? Clearly people were concerned, yet he took it on himself to answer without referring to council officers? And why didn't council officers make him aware anyway? The Chief Executive Peter Sloman MUST have been aware of the decision taken by council officers to demolish the pool, and the public were writing to him as well! And how many other issues have been treated like this and not exposed to public gaze? We should be told.

See the video from the Council meeting yourself, below. The first public address is by a member of our Campaign talking about the lack of openness and transparency in Oxford. The question itself is asked at 22 min 47 sec, and Cllr Price gives his answer at 24 min 23 sec. See for yourself, and tell us what you think.

The Incriminating Email - Council Exposed - naive or arrogant?

This is the incriminating email that shows clearly how Oxford City Council have misled everyone - not just the public, but also their very own Labour MP Andrew Smith.

Our thanks to those who wrote to the Council at the end of last year, asking for demolition of Temple Cowley Pools to be delayed.

Time and again the Labour Leader, Cllr Bob Price, replied to concerned members of the community telling us that demolition had nothing to do with the Council; apparently all Catalyst Housing's decision.

Well, we wanted to know the truth. So we asked. But the Council didn't tell us willingly. It's taken us a long time, and information about this disastrous fiasco is still being withheld, way beyond the statutory time limit. We were forced to use a  Freedom of Information request to show that, after all, the Council is responsible for wanting to demolish Temple Cowley Pools before Catalyst Housing submit their planning application for redevelopment.

Here is the incriminating email - dated 3rd July 2015, months before a hint of demolition became public. We've asked Cllr Price to explain himself - at the next Full Council Meeting on Monday, April 18th. Come along at 7pm to hear what he's got to say to the many thousands of Oxford citizens who cannot understand why a Labour administration is still refusing, 7 years on, to work with the community to give us the health and fitness facilities we want and need, where we want and need them.

Yes, it’s happening again; Oxford City Council and Catalyst Housing are determined to demolish Temple Cowley Pools, a registered Asset of Community Value, before any Planning Application to build housing that’s way too dense.

What can you do? Read on, and please do whatever you can as soon as possible.

Oxford City Council STILL OWNS THE SITE! The council, including Labour councillors, have been telling us since last December that the TCP site has been sold. This is NOT TRUE. Catalyst Housing will only take possession and ownership if the Council grants planning permission in return for £3.6m – no conflict of interest there then. The Council can tell Catalyst to delay demolition until after they have planning permission for the new housing – please ask the Council to delay demolition. It simply doesn’t make sense – if demolition happens, and then Catalyst don’t get planning permission, the council will be left with a plot of land with nothing on it, and the community will have nowhere for health and fitness, when we could have taken it over and run it at no cost to the Council. Write to:

Chief Executive Peter Sloman –

Labour Leader, Councillor Bob Price –

and your local councillors or any that you know. Please let us know if you get a reply.

Catalyst Housing has applied to demolish the site, and say that the timing of demolition is up to the Council. Please write to Catalyst asking them to delay demolition:

Catalyst Housing - David Truesdale -

Savills (agents) - Roger Smith - - 01865 269057

Demolition Application ref : 15/03107/DEM – Temple Cowley Pools, Temple Road, Cowley, OX4 2EZ

Catalyst have submitted an application for demolition – please go on the council website asap ( and register your comment. If you want reasons to object, we have collected a list just below here. It's a long intense read, but use whatever you think is relevant to what you want to say about the Catalyst notification of demolition supported by the Council.

We believe that this application is contrary to Part 11, Class B, of Schedule 2 of the General Permitted Development (England) Order 2015 (GPDO).

Under Part 11, Section B.1(a), of Schedule 2 of the General Permitted Development (England) Order 2015, demolition of this building should NOT BE PERMITTED. In part 5 of their Application Form the applicants state that demolition is required because “The building is in a poor state of repair, [and] prone to vandalism”. We refute this statement, and demand proof of this. There is no evidence that this building is, or ever has been, 'in a dangerous state'. This building was operating quite successfully as a public swimming pool and gym until 23rd December 2014, when it was abruptly, without notice, closed by the Oxford City Council. At that point it was in a good state of repair and not prone to vandalism. On 24th December, 2014 the site was surrounded by boarding. Any alleged disrepair or vandalism has occurred since this time and action. If it can be shown that disrepair or vandalism has occurred, then this is by the ‘action or inaction’ of those people – Oxford City Council and Catalyst Housing Ltd – ‘having an interest in the land on which the building stands'. It would be quite ‘practicable to secure safety or health by works of repair or works for affording temporary support’ As this is the very consideration for NOT PERMITTING demolition by Part 11, Section B.1(a), of Schedule 2 of the General Permitted Development (England) Order 2015, then this application must be ‘refused’. Under this legislation not only should the method of demolition require prior approval, but the process of demolition should require planning permission, too.
No agreement should be given for any method of demolition and site restoration by this applicant until the ownership of Temple Cowley Pools and Fitness Centre passes from Oxford City Council to the applicant. If agreement were given prior to this change of ownership then Oxford City Council would be party to the actions of persons with a potential interest in the land applying to cause malicious damage in order to render their building uninhabitable.

The Application Form incorrectly states that there are NO Public Rights of Way within the site or immediately adjoining the site. There are rights of way for St. Christopher’s Primary School, the Silver Band Hall, and the Temple Cowley Library within or immediately adjoining the site, as well as for any member of the public on the public pavement immediately adjoining the site. This false statement needs, at least, to be corrected, even if it is insufficient grounds for withdrawing and re-submitting the application.

The Application Form shows an incorrect expected works commencement date of 23rd November. To comply with legislation and allow 21 days for public notice and 28 days for determination, this date should be no earlier than Tuesday 1st December. As above, this incorrect statement should at least be corrected, even if it is insufficient grounds for withdrawing and re-submitting the application.
Any demolition on this site will cause considerable increase in traffic and noise. This increase, and any demolition process, will be hazardous and unsafe for passers by, particularly children on their way to St. Christopher’s School and users of the Temple Cowley Library. These extra problems with traffic, access, parking, and noise will be detrimental to all residents and users of other facilities in the area.
The Demolition Method Statement and Revised Restoration Plan, which includes a Site Plan, which might deal with these matters, were not placed on display on the Planning website until Friday 20th November. It is somewhat disingenuous to identify their “Date Published” as 23rd October, 2015, when they were actually added a month later. In their absence it was not possible to comment on their content. I would suggest that their absence during this period indicates that Oxford City Council has been administratively incorrect and has not fulfilled its legal planning obligations during this period.
Neither the Demolition Method Statement, nor the Revised Restoration Plan, gives clear, specific information as to how passers-by exercising their rights of way, which will include large numbers of young children going to and from St. Christopher’s school, will be protected during the demolition / restoration process.
Neither the Demolition Method Statement, nor the Revised Restoration Plan, gives consideration to users of the adjacent Temple Cowley Library. Libraries are normally places for quiet reading and working; what proposals are there to minimise noise nuisance from the site, whether from deliveries or work methods with tools and heavy machinery, etc.
Section 13 of the Demolition Method Statement, Traffic Management, and Risk Assessment Section B – Delivery / Removal of Demolition Plant To and From the Site, are inadequate. The afternoon period for no lorry movements or deliveries should start from 2.30 p.m., not 3 p.m. St. Christopher’s school finishes at 3 p.m. and parents arrive by car up to half-an-hour before that to wait for their children to leave school. Not only should there be no lorry movements or deliveries, but there should be no ‘backing up’ on the public highways of parked lorries waiting to make deliveries during either the morning or afternoon school delivery / collection period. Anyone who knows this area knows how congested and impossible to drive through both stretches of Temple Road become at these times of day. Lorries should not be present anywhere on the public highways in this area, whether stationary or moving, during these times.
As land underneath the existing building might have become contaminated over time it would be appropriate to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment prior to development. No such Assessment has been done.
We also are making the following objections:
Demolition should not occur on this site until approved as part of a planning application for site development. No planning application for development has been submitted, and there is no indication of when such an application will be submitted. There is no guarantee that a development application will be approved as any Planning Application will be robustly contested, on Planning Policy grounds, by local residents. Therefore demolition is not appropriate for this site at this time. It is far better to be left with an intact building, which could be brought back into public use, than a razed, unsightly ‘wasteland’ which would be detrimental to the Temple Cowley Conservation Area.
The Temple Cowley Pools site is adjacent to the Temple Cowley Conservation Area, which includes the adjoining Cox’s Yard and the stone wall at the front of the Temple Cowley Pools site. Demolition, without being part of an agreed application for redevelopment, would be detrimental to the Conservation Area, so should not be permitted in isolation.

Temple Cowley Pools has been recognised by the City Council as being an Asset of Community Value, which means that it is recognised as being of huge value to Cowley and the wider community. The Save Temple Cowley Pools Campaign is still attempting to save the Pools for local use, and combine its re-development with affordable local housing.. Asset status reinforces the argument for not demolishing the Pools until an alternative development proposal has been submitted AND APPROVED.

Oxford City Council's Local Plan indicates that development on the Temple Cowley Pools site will only be permitted if alternative leisure facilities are provided for local residents that are at least as accessible as Temple Cowley Pools – this means swimming and diving pools, gym, sauna, steam room suite and exercise studio, not just a gym. To date there are no such facilities, and none are planned in the Council’s leisure strategy for at least five years, so no alternative development, which includes demolition, should be permitted.