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London’s new wild swimming lake has already been shut down

Beckenham Place Park Swimming Lake
Photograph: Lewisham Council

Remember the new wild swimming lake that opened in Beckenham Place Park last weekend?

Yeah: it’s been closed down. 

For now, anyway.

Apparently unprepared for the possibility that a massive free swimming lake opened to enormous hype and at great cost at the start of the school holidays during London’s hottest ever summer would be popular, Lewisham Council has temporarily shut it down while it has a bit of a rethink. 

While the actual swimming part of the lake opened with a ticketing system to cope with anticipated demand (you need to book a £3 slot in advance), there was nothing in place for the free paddling area, which I can confirm was heaving on the two occasions I visited.

It didn’t necessarily seem catastrophic, but an air ambulance was called to the park on Monday after a child fell into the lake, while an article in the Bromley News Shopper suggests that there have been multiple incidents in which children have strayed from the shallow paddling area into the deeper swimming one.

Lewisham Council has taken decisive action: the lake is shut, a temporary fence is being erected around it, and when it reopens there will be a small fee to go paddling. There is no formal word on when that will be, but PTP Coaching, who operates the swimming sessions, appears to be under the impression that the lake will reopen on Saturday.

Hopefully, it’ll all settle down, but it does seem somewhat bemusing that Lewisham Council didn’t anticipate that this widely promoted, £4.9m project might be popular. And let’s also hope that whatever the future entry fees might be, they still allow all of the borough’s residents to enjoy a bit of an alfresco splash about.

For more information about the swimming lake, go here.

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