The Goldenstones Development Site, Yeovil
A Recent Historical Perspective of Goldenstones and it’s Development.

The Rangers Building was built in 2014 on a site east of Goldenstones Leisure Centre. Maps, plans and newspaper cuttings are included in this web site to delineate the geographical location, hereafter called “Queen’s Meadow”.

The area on which Goldenstones Leisure Centre is now located, the adjoining car park and the Queens Meadow to the east was formerly one large flat field that was used by St Nicholas Preparatory School, Penn Hill, as its school sports field. (See old Photos)  Residents of Aldondale Gardens fondly remember school boys, in their whites, playing cricket here in the 1950s and 1960s. The field was still the same in 1985 although by now the school had moved to West Coker.

In the mid 1980s the main westerly entrance to Ninesprings was via Braggchurch Lane.  This road provided access for council maintenance vehicles into Ninesprings. It was not until the late 1980s that a bridge was constructed over Dodham Brook from Brunswick Street. This was part of the project to build the Goldenstones swimming pool and marked the initial development ingress into this lovely meadow land.

The proposal to build a swimming pool on this meadow was hotly disputed. On 1st July 1988, the local newspaper made no qualms about what it thought about development on this land: “The Western Gazette believes that would be a tragedy for the area”. The Gazette’s own survey reported that “two thirds of people who regularly use Ninesprings are horrified by the plans”.

There followed a short but unsuccessful campaign to save this land from the planners, including opposition from the CPRE. In the end SSDC brushed aside all opposition. A call for a referendum of public opinion was dismissed and the Pool was born. SSDC plans for a 6 storey hotel, behind Goldenstones and adjacent to Braggchurch Lane, were retracted.The Western Gazette reported that SSDC had given an undertaking that, if the Pool was allowed, no more open space at Ninesprings would be built on - a promise cynically broken in 2014.

There has been a genuine need for a good pool in Yeovil and the losers have been those interested in competitive swimming, diving and other activities such as water polo and synchronised swimming. The previous Huish pool, completed in 1962, had a design blunder being built a fraction of an inch too short - which meant it could not be used for competitions.  In 1988 SSDC said it wanted to: "provide a facility which will incorporate competitive swimming, a teaching pool, a fun pool and, given support from the private sector, flumes and similar attractions". But the selection of the pool site at Goldenstones was another major blunder by SSDC who, in choosing this site, failed to take into account the  boggy nature of the field alongside Dodham Brook. As a result of this, the pool was modified and many of these features were removed including the specification required for competitive swimming. At the beginning of the project the estimated cost was £3m but by September 1987 was already at £5.25m. The final figure was closer to £7m - a scandal for a building not meeting original needs.

The sorry state of competitive swimming continues today due to the blunders of the local council and its inability to provide for this community.  As a consolation, Goldenstones has become a  ‘family pool’ but in the near future it will be axed by SSDC and sold off to the developers. The sale of Goldenstones will generate money to spend on a new Pool but this once beautiful green area here will become just another building site - an ugly blot at the entrance to Ninesprings.

Also in Yeovil:  SSDCs plans to build a replacement pool at Yeovil Recreation Ground infuriated thousands of Yeovil’s residents and resulted in a costly independent survey in 2010.  Fortunately SSDC plans were changed as a result of the public vote and saved these green fields, important in a built-up area, from unnecessary development. Unlike at the ‘Queen’s Meadow’, more acceptable locations were suggested.

In 1993, South Somerset District Council granted planning permission to build a supermarket on Wyndham Hill, also part of Yeovil Country Park.  This was ‘deplored’ and revoked by Parliament.