The users’ group at Brixton Recreation Centre met last week to discuss proposals to demolish the current Recreation Centre or radically refurbish it. Speakers at the meeting were angered by the possibility of losing the Rec, and described the proposals as “appalling from every point of view”.
Bill Linskey, chair of the Brixton Society, said the section about the Rec in the current draft Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) – which will decide the future of Brixton town centre – is confusing and “very badly drafted”. While elsewhere the document emphasises that “the provision of public parking” at the temporary ice rink is “of a particular priority”, it also suggests that a new leisure centre be built on the site of the ice rink.
The SPD has not yet been approved by councillors and must go through another consultation period with the public before that can happen.
Linksey said that although the council has emphasised that the idea to build a new leisure centre came out of a summer consultation with the public and ‘stakeholders’, he only heard it mentioned in the final stakeholder workshop and only by the leaders of the workshop, not the participants themselves.
Local shop owners on Brixton Station Road were also present at the meeting and expressed frustration at the thought of a developer buying up the Rec under similar proposals to the unpopular Tesco ‘Streatham Hub’ project.
The draft planning document cites two reasons for possible demolition of the Rec – poor accessibility, which was raised in public consultations, and “running costs” which are “forecast to rise significantly”. However, it was noted at the meeting that ‘Better’, who run the Recreation Centre, are in fact responsible for all maintenance, not Lambeth Council. Better has built future costs into their budget and has included potential spending on major projects in its business plan, such as replacing all the flooring in the main sports hall.
At last week’s council meeting, which occurred on the same night, Cllr Sally Prentice insisted that Lambeth Council has “no intention” of leaving Brixton without a leisure centre and promised that the local community will be properly consulted on the idea.
The Brixton Rec Users Group will meet again on December 10 where locals will be able to put questions to Cllrs Lib Peck and Sally Prentice.