The Save Our Jubilee campaign has been fighting Westminster City Council to keep the much-needed sports facilities at the Jubilee Centre, one of Westminster’s two most deprived wards.
Westminster’s plan for the new Moberly sports centre is part of a wider plan which involves the demolition of the Jubilee centre and its replacement by market housing. The plan involves combining most of the facilities provided at the Jubilee and Moberly now in one new centre.
We think it isn’t a good deal for Brent residents. This is why.
1. No affordable housing will be provided to meet the desperate needs of Brent residents. Brent’s Site Specific Allocations DPD identifies the Moberly site as one that could be redeveloped to improve the existing sports and nursery facilities and in addition to provide 104 housing units. Brent would normally expect half of these to be affordable – a valuable contribution to meeting housing needs in the borough. Westminster are proposing 71 flats (fewer than Brent thought the site might accommodate) and all these will be market housing for sale with no affordable units included.
2. Loss of daylight and sunlight to neighbouring properties. Westminster City Council’s decision to relocate services from the Jubilee to the Moberly site has resulted in a massive new building, seven storeys high at the northern end, which will rob neighbouring homes in Brent of daylight and sunlight. As a result, properties in Chamberlayne Road, City Heights and Noko will experience daylight levels below BRE guidelines, while properties in City Heights and Noko will have no direct sunlight at any time of the day. The Report attempts to justify this on the grounds that the developers of Cityview and Noko should have anticipated the redevelopment of the Moberly site. But they were facing an open space. It was reasonable for everyone to assume that this would be left undeveloped in line with Brent’s planning policies.
3. Loss of outdoor sports facilities. On the north side of the Moberly site there is an 18 x 36 metre floodlit artificial turf pitch used mainly as a football pitch by local youth clubs and adult teams. The report Planning for Sport and Active Recreation Facilities produced jointly by the London Borough of Brent and Sports England in 2008, looked at the distribution of STPs (Synthetic Turf Pitches) across the borough and considered that the south of the borough was adequately served by the pitch at the Moberly. However, if Westminster’s application for the Moberly site is approved, this pitch will be lost and, as a result, wards in the south of Brent will no longer meet minimum standards for outdoor pitch provision. The replacement pitch offered is in Westminster, 1.2 miles away, nearly in Maida Vale – and foreign territory for most of the Brent and Queen’s Park youngsters who use the Moberly now.
4. Replacement, not better provision. Westminster City Council argues that the benefits provided to Brent residents by the new sports centre are so exceptional that Brent’s policies in relation to affordable housing and overshadowing should be set aside We say that, contrary to Westminster’s claims, the benefits offered by the new development are in no way exceptional. The new centre will, firstly, not provide any more usable leisure space than exists now and, secondly, the facilities mainly replace sports facilities already provided in the existing Moberly and Jubilee centres – which include a 25 metre pool, two sports halls, and gym and fitness suites..
For these reasons, we hope that the current planning proposals by Westminster will be refused by Brent Council at the Planning Committee meeting on 9th April.