Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'We Had a Plan to Keep Sports Centre Open It Was Dismissed' CAMPAIGNERS ATTACK COUNCIL OVER SCHEME TO DEMOLISH COMPLEX AND BUILD EXPENSIVE HOUSING

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'We Had a Plan to Keep Sports Centre Open It Was Dismissed' CAMPAIGNERS ATTACK COUNCIL OVER SCHEME TO DEMOLISH COMPLEX AND BUILD EXPENSIVE HOUSING

Article excerpt

Byline: David Churchill

A TOWN HALL was today accused of "abandoning" young people by pressing ahead with plans to demolish a sports centre and replace it with luxury housing -- despite locals drawing up a proposal they say would keep it open.

Community leaders say Westminster council rejected their alternative scheme for Jubilee Sports Centre in Queen's Park, which they said would make it "financially viable".

The council's plan to close the centre triggered a 6,000-signature petition from residents opposing it. They accuse Westminster of "disregarding" young disadvantaged people, as the centre sits next to the deprived Mozart estate.

The new homes are expected to fetch up to PS800,000 each and intended to fund improvements at Moberly sports centre half a mile away in Brent and a smaller "community sports facility" on the Jubilee site. Westminster claims sports provision in the local area will expand by more than a third.

But campaigners insist young people will miss out if the current centre in Caird Street, which has a pool, basketball court and gym, closes. Community leaders drew up a plan with local architect Jonathan Tuckey that they say would secure its future. It includes a cafe, spa, and extended dance studio to boost revenue.

In September, their idea was presented to Westminster council's scrutiny committee by Queen's Park community council -- London's first parish council. But activists claim these were "not even properly considered".

Mr Tuckey, 45, who drew up the plans for free, said: "Localism lets the community make decisions for themselves and this is a really exciting example of a community that's done it -- and then it's not being listened to. Localism is being disregarded. It's lunacy to demolish it. The basketball court and gym are busy Monday to Sunday. What are these people going to do? …

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