Plans to build a 50 metre Olympic-size swimming pool and diving area in the redeveloped Queen Mother Sports Centre would send the cost of rebuilding the new Sports Centre soaring to £35 million and lead to the development of a huge towering building on the site, in order to pay for the costs of the new facilities, Labour Councillors have warned.
Labour also warn that if the development above the Sports Centre is residential then there would likely be no affordable homes as all the ‘community benefit’ would go towards paying for the new Olympic size pool and sports centre. Labour Councillors say that it is very likely that the Council would want the new £35 million sports centre to be built at no cost to the Council, as in the case of the new Moberly Sports Centre in Queen’s Park where two large luxury residential developments are being built to pay for the new Sports Centre.
In a letter to Richard Barker, the Council’s Head of Community Services, Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg says:
“Why is a 50m pool needed and will it be accompanied by spectator facilities? Such extensive facilities would take it from being a local facility to being a major London water sports location with local residents competing with users and clubs from all over London and the South East. While this will be welcomed by the enthusiasts from far and wide and will make more money, it could well ‘crowd out’ the local community.”
“I am also concerned that such an extensive facility costing in excess of £35m will also require a very large commercial component to pay for it, creating an oversized building which dominates the area. The Victoria area is already full of very large commercial buildings which are unpopular locally and this could add another. We can already see the new Willmott Dixon building at the back of the Jubilee Centre towering over everything else in the area as the price the Queen’s Park community has to pay for the new Moberly development. If this is the way forward for how the new Queen Mother Sports Centre will paid for I can envisage another big local campaign to oppose it and am disappointed that the Council has learnt nothing from the Jubilee/Moberly fiasco. The
Planning system offers few safeguards with the Council responsible for giving itself planning permission for a development that it is promoting.”
Labour say that a 50 metre Olympic size swimming pool with diving facilities is not mentioned in the consultation documents.
A petition to protect the existing sports and health facilities at Queen Mother Sports Centre has already attracted 275 signatures from local residents http://petitions.westminster.gov.uk/QueenMother/