Leeds Pool demolition continues as development plans abandoned
The site of John Poulson’s Leeds International Pool could remain empty for years after a proposed redevelopment evaporated
BAM, formerly HBG Properties, said it was no longer economically viable to continue with its proposed Allies and Morrison masterplan and was not pressing ahead with the project to replace the brutalist 1960s city-centre swimming baths, which are almost completely demolished.
The developer drafted in the practice last year after deciding to pull the plug on a previous residential skyscraper scheme overseen by careyjones and featuring the 24-storey Spiracle Tower by Make (AJ 24.04.08).
BAM admitted the revised office, hotel and retail project had been ‘overtaken by the credit crunch’. Meanwhile, Leeds City Council said that no other developer was involved in the site and that, once demolition was complete, it would be indefinitely used as a car park.
Kevin Grady, director of Leeds Civic Trust said: ‘We are disappointed it is being demolished. If the building had stayed standing for another five years, views might have changed.’
Jon Wright, a spokesman for The Twentieth Century Society, agreed: ‘The building was controversial but it was undeniably significant architecturally and eminently reusable. The sad loss of another large brutalist structure.’
There have been calls for regional development agency Yorkshire Forward, which has stepped into kickstart schemes across the region, to get involved.
Gregg Mitchell, managing director of careyjones, said: ‘This is a regeneration site and they should be proactively finding a solution.’
Opened in 1967, the pool was designed by disgraced architect Poulson and was famously just centimetres too narrow to qualify as an Olympic pool.
Poulson was subsequently convicted of fraud in connection with the awarding of building contracts.
The Leeds International Pool news comes just days after Owen Luder’s Tricorn centre in Portsmouth - which suffered a similar fate and remains a car park five years after it was flattened - picked up the Rubble Club award for the best building to be bulldozed during an architect’s life time.