Representatives from all the swimming groups met with Michael Welbank (the chair of the Heath Management Committee) Simon Lee (the Superintendent of the Heath) together with those who are responsible for the swimming ponds and the lido, the City Engineer and their hydrologist .
The essential trigger for these proposals is new legislation – the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 which demands that all “reservoirs” are ensured against flooding through work on their dams. A reservoir is defined as any body of water over 10 000 cu ms and at least three of the Highgate ponds are in this category.
This will entail work on the dams of all the ponds in both valleys. In adhering to the acts and to bring the areas up to the current and future Flood Management standards, they have allocated at least £10M from the City reserves.
The whole scheme will have a major impact on the appearance of the ponds.
There are issues about the timing of such works, the length of time to do each – if they are draining the pond they will also have to wait for it to be refilled after the 5 months during which they will be doing the construction work. The timetabling of the works will be important. We argued on hearing this that at least one swimming pond should be open throughout the overall schedule.
The proposals will be going to the Consultative Committee in May, and will they hope go through the whole committee cycle by July.
The tendering process will then start and after appointing the design and construction teams possibly by September, they think the final plans should be in place by summer 2012.
They then have to obtain planning permission so there is little chance of any works starting before mid 2013 at the earliest.
Having heard some intimations that there would be some major works which would affect our pond, we have asked Simon Lee , Paul Maskell and the hydrologist to our AGM on Friday March 18th (Lauderdale House) to outline the overall proposals and to take questions and initial responses and concerns. They are aware that the Ladies Pond has a very specific nature for the swimmers and users and know they need to talk to us.
Please inform any of the women who swim at the Ladies Pond that they will have the opportunity at the AGM to find out more and also to make contributions, which could inform their writing of the initial documents that will be going to the committee cycle.