Karen’s letter on the Moberly Leisure Centre application

Posted: 23/01/14

January 23 2103

Mr Robin Sedgwick,
Brent Council Planning Department


Dear Mr Sedgwick,

Moberly Sports Centre planning proposal: Objection

Members of Brent Council may be aware of the controversy surrounding the proposed closure of the Jubilee Sports Centre and the re-development of both the Jubilee and Moberly sites to provide a new sports facility funded by the building of ‘market' housing.

I have many concerns about the overall package, which I believe are broadly shared by many residents (c5000) who signed a petition against the Jubilee closure, and the majority of those who attended a public meeting at the Beethoven centre on January 16th.

It is also fair to point out that there are also some residents of Queen's Park (Westminster) who are positive about the scheme, believing that it will offer improved leisure facilities.

I have three main concerns:

a. The loss of leisure amenity for Queen's Park residents
b. The lack of affordable housing on both the Moberly and Jubilee sites
c. Concerns about parking and accessibility at Moberly and possible impact on local Queen's Park streets


a) The loss of leisure amenity for Queen's Park residents

North Westminster has the highest population density in the country, and Queen's Park is a ward with very high levels of deprivation. Whilst the new centre on the Moberly will re-provision many of the facilities from the Jubilee, including the swimming pool, the well-used football pitch has been re-located to another part of the borough, representing a significant loss of open-air amenity for local residents.

In addition, the basketball court adjoin the Jubilee will go with no current plans for replacement.

Both of these are open-air facilities, which should be preserved locally as a balance to entirely indoor leisure provision.

The loss of the basketball court also represents a loss of free, unbooked, open-access sport, which I believe to be in contravention of the London Plan.


b) The lack of affordable housing on site

I note that Brent's policy is that "Where less than 50 per cent affordable housing is proposed, the application must be accompanied by a financial appraisal which demonstrates that the proposal represents the maximum viable proportion of affordable housing". Obviously, the fact that Wilmott Dixon/Westminster Council's plans include the re-provisioning of the sports centre means that the overall formula would be varied significantly. However, I and my council colleagues are unconvinced by the business case which indicates that Wilmott Dixon must only build market homes for sale in order to finance the new development. This is especially in light of the market prices being asked for in other local developments (such as Amberley Road, W9, where the developer is marketing 1 bed homes for £850,000). At the public meeting, Councillor Paul dimoldenberg called for the ‘books to be opened' so we can have an honest discussion about the feasibility of the overall housing/leisure package.


c) Accessibility, parking and transport

The Jubilee Sports Centre is well located in the heart of the community, bringing a footfall into the centre of Queen's Park, which improves community safety. The new, larger sports centre on the Moberly site is being promoted as offering leisure facilities to attract users from a wider area. (Both within Westminster, Brent and elsewhere). This is alsmot certain to increase parking demands within the Queen's Park estate, as more people have to travel further to use the centre, and to increase traffic pressure on what is already a busy set of junction's corners around Kilburn Lane/Chamberlayne Road.


I would be very grateful if you could bring these comments to the attention of the Planning Committee.

Thank you


Yours sincerely

 

Karen Buck