1 March 2024

New bid to save Phillip's 50m pool for growing Woden

| Ian Bushnell
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The Phillip Swimming and Ice Skating Centre's 50m pool's days appear numbered.

The Phillip Swimming and Ice Skating Centre’s 50m pool’s days appear numbered. Photo: Phillip Swimming and Ice Skating Centre, Facebook.

A group of Woden residents are hoping to make a splash with a pool party protest on Sunday at the Phillip Swimming and Ice Skating Centre.

Save Phillip Pool wants the current facility – the only 50m pool in the Woden Valley, Weston Creek and the Inner South – to stay open to serve the growing population in the town centre and district and the 3:30 pm event aims to rally support.

It wants to send a message to the ACT Government and the site owner that booming Woden needs a full-size pool.

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Spokesperson Fiona Carrick, who is organising an independent ticket for the ACT election and may run herself, said the current 50m pool was set to go in any new development planned by the current owner, property giant Geocon which bought the centre in December 2022.

Geocon is developing the massive WOVA mixed use development across Launceston Street and has long-term plans to redevelop the site but the lease requires it to retain a pool.

Ms Carrick said the new planning laws allowed Geocon to replace the existing ice rink, outdoor 50m pool and children’s pools with residential towers that included an indoor 25m pool, warm pool, children’s pool and some outdoor space.

But with more than 30 residential towers and significant densification in the suburbs feeding a population boom in the district, the larger pool was needed, she said.

“The Stromlo Leisure Centre [in the Molonglo Valley] is supposed to be our indoor pool but it is difficult to access by public transport,” Ms Carrick said.

Phillip pool entrance

The shadow of redevelopment hangs over the Phillip Swimming and Ice Skating Centre. Photo: Region.

She said successive government policies, including support for a new ice sports centre in Tuggeranong, had contributed to the Phillip site being run-down and made less viable.

“Geocon bought the site with no transparency about the entry pricing required to make a profit, and who will subsidise the pool if it does not?” Ms Carrick said.

Ms Carrick said the government policy of encouraging developers to provide community facilities had failed in Woden, which had lost most of its recreational facilities over the years.

“The Woden Town Centre is a centrally located hub that is accessible by public transport from across the region,” she said.

“However, residential towers now replace Woden’s basketball stadium, bowling greens, tennis courts, YMCA and gymnasium. The pitch n putt, pool and ice rink are zoned for towers too, forcing people into their cars to drive to other districts for these activities.”

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This had left Woden without plans for a 50m pool, an indoor sports stadium or an arts centre.

Ms Carrick said the forgotten south had missed out for too long.

“It is time for the government to plan for an equitable distribution of social infrastructure and prioritise all Canberrans, caring for all our people and communities,” she said.

Comment was sought from Geocon.

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Too right. ACT Government has allowed property developers to take our Woden sporting facilities, education institutions and public amenities without a whimper.

Whenever I see the words ‘new planning laws’ I shudder….they invariably mean the loss of some essential, well-used and convenient facility.
Maybe the short Canberra summer means that with so many people arriving from interstate, the autumn means winter. The idea that Stromlo suits Woden is ridiculous.

Woden has a pool?

Why can’t Geocon build a public indoor pool on the ground floor with retail amenities and then apartments on top? Seems like a win-win for everyone?

Geocon shouldnt have been allowed to buy the pool. they can now sell apartments with pools for higher price, due to lack of attractive public pool options.

We’d need a change of govenment for anything to happen. Too much is focused in the city, where canberra was designed from the start as a 15 minute city.

sisterratched4:22 pm 03 Mar 24

Hear hear. Poor old Woden loses out again. Our pool is not long for this world, and what is the govt doing? Leaving it for the private sector which is always a failure. When do we get our fair share of public sporting and arts centres, like the North side? Not good enough, not good enough at all, particularly with the rapidly growing population. The tram and a new CIT is not enough.

It’s a disgrace the way the ACT Government has allowed sporting facilities to disappear from the Woden area. Since we moved here in 1990 we have lost the following:

Basketball stadium
Lawn Bowls facility
Pitch & putt golf
And the only decent pool will be next.

The building that are replacing our priceless amenities are going to be a drain on energy for decades to come, minimal energy efficiency standards.
And Geocon in particular just keep building the same thing – Canberra’s deserve better. Why can’t we have developments that really challenge the needs to our time, and not just cookie cutter edifices that will long be a poor legacy of a lazy government.

JOHN SEYMOUR2:54 am 03 Mar 24

A 50m pool is vital for Woden. In the ACT Pools require government subsidy as it’s almost impossible to turn a profit. In this case the Ice Rink subsidises the pool. I want my taxes spent on Community assets like the pool. The government is abrogating responsibility to developers. The ACT has a shortage of swimming pool lane space to accommodate recreational, swimming club and other users. The Woden pool / ice rink should never have been sold to private ownership back in the early 80s. Having said all that the citizens of Woden need to actually use the pool. Since it re-opened post COVID late 2023 it’s hardly been used. Makes it difficult to mount a case to retain. I’m amazed more people in the surrounding units don’t utilise the pool.

Louise Raisin12:22 pm 03 Mar 24

John usage of the pool is building each week as more residents find out the pool an open after being closed for 2 years. . As a regular pool user in Tuggeranong and Phillip the numbers are about the same. I’m seeing around 20 to 30 people plus a few kids pool parties some days. Neither the government or the developer are interested in promoting it, they are turning families away because they don’t have a life guard on duty.

Louise Raisin12:18 am 03 Mar 24

This is about more than just the pool. Woden and Weston and south Canberra residents are sick of having to drive all over town to take their kids to train and play sport. With more people moving into Woden we need more recreation facilities not less. Our government doesn’t care about us and our labor and green local members are night fighting for us. Can’t wait for the next election time for them to go me thinks

Woden used to the be community centre for the south. No more, the community facilities have been built over for residential We need to build right sized sustainable housing and still leave space for things like communal swimming pools, Soon, if you don’t live an apartment tower you won’t be able to go to the pool.
Phillip pool has excellent public transport connections. Thats important so the kids can go to the pool and you don’t have to own a car to swim.

Why is Canberra so far behind the rest of the world – where 15 minute cities keep community assets in place for a more sustainable and resilient future? No planning, no strategy, just greed

Completly agree. We’ve been told Stromlo is 10 minutes away, but by what means of transport. So many contradictions from government and we’re being centralised around civic.

Community facilities aren’t needed in the new Woden that Andrew Barr is creating – a dormitory suburb, full of walled-off residential towers, each with their own private gym and pool. His developer mates must be well pleased.

Vanessa Essam4:59 pm 02 Mar 24

I love this pool, swim laps there each summer. It’s hard to believe the Gov doesn’t care about access to sport & rec facilities for those of us who live in Woden.

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