Save Temple Cowley Pools & Fitness Centre!

The Campaign to Save Temple Cowley Pools & Fitness Centre!

A New Swimming Pool & Gym for Cowley

On the Cowley Barracks site in Hollow Way, a construction company called 'Unite Students' is planning a new student development. Yes, many of us thought they were something to do with the Unite union, but no. 

Unite Students are seeking planning consent to build accommodation for 885 students - effectively a student town!

There are already at least 242 undergraduate students, plus postgrad students, at Paul Kent adjacent to this site. And 352 at Slade Park, another 112 at The Mews and 306 at Crescent Halls. Sinnet Court houses 200 students, and the Windmill Road Halls house a further 50. So that's more than 1,250 students living the area already, and if the plans go through we are looking at over 2,000!

Many of those who have heard about this plan believe it to be far too many students in one place, in this area.

Oxford has no need for Brookes to keep increasing the number of students coming to the university and we feel that the maximum number of students here has already been reached. It's not as though students pay council tax to contribute to the city.

There is no evidence that students leaving privately rented accommodation for new halls will free up this housing for non-students. Indeed, if landlords wanted to let their houses to let their houses to non-students then they would already be doing so.

The designs for buildings in the new development are too big and bulky, especially the front of the building, called 'The Keep'. It is ugly and out of all proportion to the area. It is nothing like the attractive building that was originally there that it is intended to replace, and there is simply no need for it.

Local people are not convinced that the 'no car' policy will be adhered to or, more importantly, enforced. This policy doesn't work anywhere else in Oxford, forcing even more cars onto our already over-burdened and often gridlocked streets.

A conversation has taken place with the company seeking compromise and we suggest the following proposals:

We ask that they seriously reduce the number of student rooms. We ask that the front half the site be used to build a new 25m 8 lane Swimming Pool. This would be the same size as we had at Temple Cowley since 1986 (when there was a much smaller population) with training pool (and if possible, diving pool), jacuzzi, full gym, exercise and dance studios, sauna and steam rooms and cafe. Also housing a full Community Centre to replace the one lost by the closure of the one in Barns Road, Cowley.

Both of these facilities are desperately needed by local residents, by Brookes staff and by any students in the area. At present Brookes students and staff are expected to travel right across the city to Botley for swimming and fitness which requires two buses and takes almost an hour each way. Brookes students and staff were previously able to use and often used, Temple Cowley Pools and Fitness Centre. Brookes staff who liked to swim at lunch time would again be able to do this.

NHS staff likewise need to be able to use swimming for exercise at lunchtimes and before /after work. This would help meet the needs of huge number of NHS and research staff in the area.

Local people also suffer from the lack of swimming and other exercise facilities in Cowley. Many of us who swim, are not able to do other forms of exercise due to health, ability and age, so a gym is of no help to many of us.

Providing a complete fitness facility would go a long way to ameliorate the bad feeling which has risen by the number of student halls which have gone up in Headington, Cowley and East Oxford in recent years with an increase in student numbers obvious on our streets.

If some of the accommodation being supplied could also be social housing this might help too. Cowley is described as having some ‘Areas of Deprivation’ and has seen the highest increase in population density since the 2001 census, over 30% and some records say 38%. Certainly, local schools like St Christopher’s Primary and St-Gregory-The-Great Secondary Schools have had to increase their places by 35% and 50%.

All people need facilities for exercise and wellbeing in order to maintain physical and mental health at all levels. Happier and less resentful, people make better neighbours.

The SaveTCP Community Interest Company has offered to work with Unite Students to help develop the site, using our original plans for developing the Temple Cowley site for the community.

What you can do to help - now!

Visit the website with the development proposals at

There is a questionnaire to complete with your views - thanks!

You can contact [email protected] with any feedback or questions.


We are now 8 years on from when the public first heard that Oxford City Council wanted to take away health and fitness facilities from East Oxford. Over 40,000 people living in the Temple Cowley area are directly affected by the 'Blue Hole' the Council have created by closing and forcing demolition of Temple Cowley Pools. Many others are also affected - overcrowding at other centres people have been forced to move to, more traffic on roads as people are forced to use private transport to get there, more pressure on the NHS as people unable to get to exercise can no longer live independently, the loss of the only low-chlorine pool in the county means asthmatic children can no longer swim, the loss of the only diving pool in the county means less access for would-be Olympic diving champions, and even the crime rate has increased in the area.

Support from the Community is rock solid - we want Temple Cowley Pools back!

We do get asked, quite reasonably, why Save Temple Cowley Pools, if it's been demolished? Fair question. We are considering changing the name, but the SaveTCP "brand" is so strong we are reluctant to change at the moment.

Now in our EIGHTH year of campaigning, with massive continuing public support - the City Council wanted Temple Cowley Pools shut over five years ago, but you all helped keep TCP open until December 2014. During that additional time users enjoyed more than half a million more visits, we exposed the Council propaganda as a combination of Inaccurate, Incomplete, Misleading and Untrue, and played our part in getting the right to video at Council meetings. The image shows the community proposal that the Council rejected - housing combined with a leisure centre and community shared pace, at no cost to the taxpayer.

The decision to sell the site to a commercial developer, Catalyst, was taken at the end of 2014 and the Labour Council has closed and destroyed yet another facility in Cowley. The exact conditions in the contract remain murky, demonstrating yet again the lack of openness and transparency when Oxford City Council decides not to work with the public they are there to serve.

But the Campaign continues towards 2018, challenging the decisions, confronting the propaganda and working every way we can so that the community can again have the facilities it wants and needs, where it wants and needs them, in Cowley.


The Save Temple Cowley Pools Campaign has been fighting since 2009 to keep open the Temple Cowley Pools & Fitness Centre in Temple Road, Oxford, condemned to closure by Oxford City Council. The Council rushed to close the site at 4pm on 23rd December 2014, without any notice to the public, and boarded up the centre with people still swimming in it!


Support for the Campaign was immediate and huge, demonstrated through the first petition that reached over 12,000 signatures before we stopped - the largest in Oxford, simply ignored by the administration. We've continued with a succession of petitions that show people's frustration with the City Council. Petition number 8 was debated at the Council meeting in November 2014.


During December 2014, the Council continued to defy public opinion, voting in an all-Labour City Executive Board meeting to go with a commercial developer wanting to put 47 dwellings and 53 car park spaces on the site. Our community Social Enterprise proposal, presented by the SaveTCP community interest company, was dismissed without any public discussion, and without us being told what the council would find acceptable. Our proposal represents £20m annual value delivered to the community, and the council has defied its voters and shown it is simply not interested. The Greens called in the decision to Scrutiny Committee on 23rd December, and despite Green and LibDem support, the 3 councillors were not about to turn over the well managed and "on message" 8 Labour councillors who knew what they had to do, so the decision stands - for now.

At 4pm on the 23rd December 2014 the Council closed TCP - since then all that has happened, during summer 2016 was that the Council instructed Catalyst to demolish the site, ensuring that the community could not take over and operate the centre for the public good and at no expense to the public purse. the Campaign continues to challenge the Council decisions and work to keep and replace the facilities the Cowley community wants and needs, where they want and need them.

Please browse these pages for lots more information and background. Send us an email at [email protected] for any questions, comments and/or to add your name to our email list.

We also appear on Twitter @SaveTCP (see rhs of this page for our Twitter feed) and on Facebook.


Get involved! All your Labour councillors are ignoring the views of the people they were elected to serve. The Council needs to be constantly challenged because it is determined to get its way and is continually putting out information that we demonstrate time and again is a combination of MISLEADING, INACCURATE, INCOMPLETE and UNTRUE.

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Weekly Meetings
We meet every Sunday evening,     6.30-7.30 pm at the Marsh Harrier, Marsh Road, Cowley
Karma Restaurant, 152 Oxford Road, Cowley, Oxford OX4

Upcoming Events

Saturday 19th August - Elder Stubbs Festival - come to our stall, sign the petition, and ask the Council for a new swimming pool!
Monday 21st August - Planning Review Committee - a call-in means the Council's decision to grant itself planning permission will be reviewed
Tuesday 22nd August - Special Council Meeting - Voting through £3m to change the cladding on the towers project - that was the wrong sort in the first place. And has already cost us £21m, rising from the first estimate of £6m - you couldn't make this stuff up about our inept council. And no heads will roll.

Catch up on past events...

Cowley Road Festival 2016

Recent Blog Entries

We're on Twitter!

38 Degrees Online Petition - PLEASE SIGN!

We now have an online petition on the international campaigning site 38 Degrees. Go there NOW and sign to show your support - click HERE