The ‘West End Extra’ reports tonight’s Westminster Council decision as sports centre in Queen’s Park faces a date with the bulldozer:
“CONTROVERSIAL plans to bulldoze a sports centre and replace it with luxury flats were rubber stamped by City Hall tonight (Tuesday).
There were heated scenes in the usually subdued committee meeting in Victoria as councillors and Queen’s Park residents struggled to contain their frustration with the decision to approve the demolition of the Jubilee Sports Centre.
The scheme will see the Caird Street site – which hosts a gym, swimming pool and several sports pitches – handed to Wilmott Dixxon to build 72 homes, including 20 town houses. In return for the site, developers have pledged to build a £17million sports facility in Kilburn Lane. This will replace the existing Moberly Sports Centre, which, although owned by Westminster, is on the other side of the Brent border.
The demolition has faced widespread opposition over the last two years, with more than 5,000 people signing a petition urging City Hall to scrap the scheme.
Council planning officials said tonight that several elements of the design of the new flats were “regrettable” including the loss of light to neighbouring properties, but said that overall it was of “strategic benefit”.
The council believe they will save £600,000 a year in running costs by combining the two sports centres on to one site.
The committee of three councillors heard objections from residents that the loss of the Jubilee centre would “rip the heart out of the community”.
But the councillors were supportive of consolidating sports facilities on one site and instead were faced with a decision about the design of the flats that would replace it.
Despite voicing concerns over the size and scale of a five-storey block in Caird Street, the committee decided to approve the design as it stands. They were told by council planning staff that they could either accept the plans, reject them outright or recommend a deferral with a suggestion to redesign the flats.
Queen’s Park residents who have campaigned against the plans for years shouted that it was “disgraceful” as they left the public gallery.
After the decision was finalised, Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg, who had made representations on behalf of residents, told the committee:
“it’s disgraceful. You should be ashamed of yourselves. That’s not democracy. You’ve heard all the comments. You’ve heard the design is inadequate and you won’t even have the decency to defer it to let the architects come back and come up with a more appropriate design. What’s wrong with asking them to go away and come back with a more appropriate design?”