CAMPAIGNERS battling to reopen Arthur Hill swimming pool have slammed the council for planning to build homes on the site.

The century-old pool was forced to close in October last year after Reading Borough Council claimed it had become too expensive to run.

Arthur Hill campaigner, Peter Burt, has branded the council's handling of the closure as an 'inconsistent shambles' and says they have no right to sell the land for financial gain.

He said: “At the time the decision to close Arthur Hill Pool was made, councillors claimed it was driven by the cost of keeping the pool open, rather than a desire to sell the site.

“Yet barely six months after the pool is closed the council is proposing to develop housing on the site.”

Plans for a demountable swimming pool at Rivermead Leisure Centre were approved in February to fill the void after Central Pool and Arthur Hill closed due to cost-cutting measures.

Mr Burt added: “The council's policy on the Arthur Hill site is a contradictory and inconsistent shambles. We were told any future income from the site would be put towards development of a new swimming pool.

“The proposal undermines the development potential and the value of the site, reducing the amount of money available for any new pool.

“Yet again the council have taken a 'we know best' attitude and made no effort to find out what local people want for the Arthur Hill site.

“We believe the Arthur Hill site should be retained for community use and there should be a proper consultation on the future of the site.”

An online petition objecting to the proposal for housing on the site has already collected more than 200 signatures in the first four days.

A spokesman for Reading Borough Council said: “The building at the front of the site has been locally listed in recognition of the historical interest and any redevelopment of the site would need to comply with planning policies.

“There is no evidence in either conveyance of any covenants or restrictions that would affect the development or saleability of the site.”