FEARS have been raised that a proposed leisure centre linked to a 1,000-pupil academy in North Kensington could become ‘a voyeurs’ paradise’.
The wraps have just come off designs for the £57.8million Kensington Aldridge Academy and Kensington Leisure Centre.
But they have attracted criticism from residents of the surrounding estate and from a Labour councillor who fears pupils – who will have joint use of the sports facilities – and other users will be at risk from peeping Toms.
Councillor Emma Dent Coad said: “Anybody who is a parent will, I think, be very concerned by the design of the leisure centre. It has floor-to-ceiling glass that exposes the children’s paddling pool, the main swimming pool and the sports hall. Pedestrian routes run alongside three sides, so it will be a voyeurs’ paradise.”
She added: “There is zero privacy and any weirdo can spend all day watching children in their swimsuits.”
Campaigners have been opposing the school and centre proposals for more than a year. They say developing the land, which is low value because it is in the centre of an estate, will deprive them of outdoor space.
There are better, higher value sites for the developments, which Kensington and Chelsea Council refuses to use because it wants to sell them to raise cash, they claim.
Ms Dent Coad added: “The bottom line is that we were desperate for a school. But to put a school with more than 1,000 pupils in the middle of an estate with little outside space when there were many other better locations, is not good enough.
“The sports facilities will be woefully inadequate and three multi-use games areas are being relocated, one to the roof of the school and the other two will be moved to the side of a six-lane motorway.”
However, the council’s deputy leader, Nicholas Paget-Brown, said: “Councillor Dent Coad says there were better sites for the school, but she fails to say where.
“Experts looked at every option in detail and this site emerged as plainly the best place to put our new academy.
“Thanks to huge extra investment from the council, the new academy is going to be built to a very high standard, and the sports facilities will be excellent. As for this ‘voyeurs’ paradise’ nonsense, just like the new academy the leisure centre will meet every modern standard, including for privacy.”
A phased construction programme begins next month. The academy is due to open in September 2014 for the first term of Year 7 pupils.