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Gurnell Leisure Centre
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Frequently Asked Questions

Gurnell Leisure Centre

Financial and legal

What is LBE’s contribution to the project?

The demand on core council service has risen whilst funding is being cut, therefore we have to be proactive in securing our services via alternative avenues. Since 2014, revenue support grant has been cut by 64% (a cut of circa £143m) therefore we cannot afford to complete the redevelopment without enabling development (housing) being provided, as the government will not allow LBE borrow money to redevelop the centre ourselves, hence the need to use enabling development as a driver for the scheme.

LBE have negotiated a contribution from development partner Be, of circa £25m in the form of a land transfer receipt in exchange for a long term lease; this circa £25m will fund the cost of constructing the shell & core of the leisure centre. The leisure centre will then receive an already approved £12.5m cabinet contribution for its fit-out. This will meet the anticipated leisure centre cost of circa £37.5m.

A contribution of £10m stemming from recycled Right-To-Buy receipts has now also been confirmed to help fund on-site affordable housing. This money can only be used for re-providing affordable housing, any other use of this money is against the law.


 

What sort of reassurance are we getting in terms of finances and project programme?

Our programme at the moment is indicative. LBE & Be have embarked on pre-application discussions with both the Local Planning Authority (LPA) and the Greater London Authority (GLA), and the speed
and efficacy of this process plus the additional time required for determination of the planning application will impact on the programme.


As part of the contract between Be and LBE, LBE are able to scrutinise Be’s figures/calculations, having them individually validated, ensuring LBE get the most financially beneficial deal for the borough’s residents. This transparency will strengthen the foundation of the project and should ensure financial changes and further delays should be minimised.


 

What legal protection do LBE have if the flats get built and developer can’t afford to deliver the leisure centre?

Our Development Agreement with Be states that the Shell and Core of the leisure centre must be provided prior to housing on the site; this is sealed within our legal agreement and will also be noted under any S106 agreement attached to the planning permission. The financial risk of this delivery model sits with Be, the developer, entirely, therefore if they are unable to deliver housing, there will be no risk to the already constructed leisure centre.


 

What will the implications be if the developer Be lose money after leisure centre Shell and Core is complete and claim they need to build more housing to generate profits to offset these losses?

Through the Agreement for Lease, there is open book accounting which means LBE are able to scrutinise the viability and accuracy of Be’s figures both themselves and through independent real estate consultants Lambert, Smith & Hampton (LSH), to ensure Be are not claiming a need to increase the quantum of housing to meet their targets, nor making extortionate profits through the project. The financial viability will also be scrutinised by the GLA and LBE’s planning department to ensure there is not unreasonable development on the Metropolitan Open Land (MOL), and there is only housing delivered to offset the cost of the leisure centre, not for excessive financial gain.

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Public consultation

When is the current leisure centre likely to close?

We’d previously reported, as per below, that the existing Gurnell Leisure Centre was expected to close in September 2018, however due to conversations with both the Local Planning Authority and Greater London Authority, the closure of the existing centre has now been shifted back to September 2019, with the expectation that the new facility will open late in 2021. This is subject to planning approval.

Have local resident’s feedback to date been positive?

Generally the response has been positive but LBE are aware that the development will impact local residents more than others and that the consultation has highlighted some key concerns. Many residents do not want the centre to be out of use for circa 24 months, however understand that with the current centre being past its operational life and with government funding running low, there may not be a later opportunity to redevelop the leisure centre.

As there are mixed opinions on the development, do The London Borough of Ealing (LBE) have plans to hold a ballot on the proposals, in order to determine whether or not the project continues?


The borough’s Sports Facility Strategy 2012-2021 demonstrates a need for a 50m swimming pool and also validates the location of Gurnell being important, which other borough provision sited in Northolt (North West) and Acton (East).
The decision to embark on this project has been made by LBE’s Cabinet, therefore there will not be a ballot to determine whether or not the project continues. As part of the planning process the scheme must be assessed via the Local Planning Authority and will also be referred to the Mayor of London, both processes giving residents and users the option to comment in support of, or object to, the scheme.

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Planning and design

Will there be encroachment onto floodplain and how with this affect flooding?

Parts of the development will be in areas at risk from flooding. As the detailed design progresses, we will work hard to mitigate this risk. Under consideration will be the layout of the proposals, the use of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems, the provision of duplex flats at ground floors, and entrances being at or above the flood level, amongst other measures. The Environment Agency will review the proposals, and their comments will be provided as part of the planning application process.


 

GLA have sent out a letter noting their objections to the scheme, so are they not supporting the project?

The GLA’s comments have been around the design and layout of the proposals and in particular encroachment into the Metropolitan Open Land. The GLA have also commented on the viability of the proposals and the need to robustly justify the quantum of residential development required as enabling development for the construction of the Shell and Core of the leisure centre. The project team are in constructive dialogue with the GLA to resolve these issues. It is important to note that the GLA are generally supportive of the principle of the proposal.


 

Will the indicative picture in the website change?

The designs currently shown on the website [as of March 2018] are preliminary. The imagery will be updated as the design of the proposal progresses.

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Leisure

Why were residents not consulted on the decision to redevelop rather than refurbish the leisure centre?

The leisure centre has already exceeded a typical facility’s operational lifespan of 35 years. Whilst originally the refurbishment of the centre was seen as viable, it would only prolong the facility for a short term, eventually resulting in another closure and further future investment required. It is estimated that refurbishment would be circa 80% of the cost of redeveloping. In addition, the major refurbishment work would be the stripping of the roof and replacement which would take almost as long as redevelopment so would mean a similar closure period, as well as only being a temporary solution based on the leisure centre’s age. Members and Officers have a duty to council taxpayers to make sure taxes are spent sensibly and efficiently, therefore a redevelopment recommendation was given to members. This decision was taken through LBE’s transparent Cabinet decision making process.


 

The Ealing Labour Party’s manifesto stated Gurnell Leisure Centre would be refurbished prior to the last election, not redeveloped. Why has this changed?

Despite the manifesto originally proposing to refurbish the leisure centre, with the project evolving as set out above, officers made the recommendation to proceed with redevelopment rather than refurbishment.


 

During swimming galas and competitions, there are 200 children competing per weekend, how are you going to provide parking for this amount of people?

The same quantum of parking will be provided as currently, as the pool will be a replacement 50m pool, as we are expecting a similar level of usage. We are working closely with Ealing Swimming Club and local schools around their usage and needs, to ensure during peak times, there is parking provision for all users.


 

Where will the coaches drop-off swimming clubs and school users?

There has been a significant amount of work carried out to provide suitable coach waiting zones and drop off areas, all informed through the Transport Impact Assessments which are being completed. This will take into account the movement of traffic, coach parking and car usage will all be taken into account as part of this work.


 

What guarantee do we have that centre won’t be shut down prior to the commencement of redevelopment, due to the staff leaving and condition deteriorating?

We are managing the facility through current operators Greenwich Leisure Limited (also as GLL/Better) as best we can at the moment, keeping all major stakeholders updated on the progress and working with operators on changes which will be implemented over the forthcoming months, regarding redevelopment and closure dates. Implications of the centre staying open for a further 18 months are being considered to ensure the centre remains open for residents until closure is required? Was there ever a quote for the roof repairs? In 2007/08 EC Harris estimated the roof repairs would cost in the region of £3m; Noting inflation and further deterioration, this has now been calculated at circa double that cost. The most recent leisure centre condition survey was carried out in 2012, which noted significant issues which needed to be addressed, one of which being the roof.


 

Was there ever a quote for the roof repairs?

In 2007/08 EC Harris estimated the roof repairs would cost in the region of £3m; Noting inflation and further deterioration, this has now been calculated at circa double that cost. The most recent leisure centre condition survey was carried out in 2012, which noted significant issues which needed to be addressed, one of which being the roof.

 

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Parking and transport

How many more people are going to be driving in and what is the impact? The roads are already being narrowed for bicycle lanes. How will congestion be managed? Can the road be widened?

Ruislip Road East is unlikely to be widened. LBE are looking into cycleway/quietway needs to be made clearer so it can be used more effectively by cyclists, as it seems that not all cyclists are aware of the designated cycle quietway. The impact on traffic movement in the area resulting from the proposed development will be modelled and assessed as part of the planning process.

Significant contributions will be made towards local infrastructure, which could help to fund such transport improvements. These contributions will be managed by LBE and put towards those areas of highest need. In addition, Be are considering providing a minibus shuttle service for residents to local stations at peak hours.


 

Will there be more bus services to and from the leisure centre as part of the project?

TfL are being consulted as part of planning process, who we will work with to ensure there is adequate public transport servicing the leisure centre. Significant contributions will be made towards local infrastructure, which could help to fund such transport improvements. These contributions will be managed by LBE and put towards those areas of highest need. In addition, Be are considering providing a minibus shuttle service for residents to local stations at peak hours.


 

How will displacement parking be managed/mitigated?

The number of parking spaces provided for the leisure centre parking will directly be replaced with circa 175 leisure centre spaces provided. Levels of car ownership versus parking will be scrutinised during the planning process and therefore this will determine exact numbers related to parking. Considerations around the impact to Gurnell Grove and Peal Gardens will be made as part of the planning process. LBE will look at management measures for displacement, and will also be guided by the planning process as to how many spaces are needed.


 

How are you going set your parking pricing policy?

Parking prices will be set at a rate similar to the current car park. The pricing will enable short term parking for swimming, with more expensive rates for longer stays to deter commuter parking.

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Housing

More residents will surely mean a greater strain on the areas doctor’s surgeries, schools and dentists. How many more residents are expected to live on the Gurnell site?

Although it is difficult to give an exact figure, it is expected that there will be between 1,000-1,200 residents living in the housing on the site. It is important to remember that this development is vital in funding the leisure centre’s redevelopment and securing future provision.

All population growth is all factored into LBE’s strategy/approach for both healthcare and education provision. Facilities such as doctor’s surgeries, schools and dentists are not calculated against individual developments, they are rather calculated on longer term projections, in which the additional housing at the Gurnell’s site has been included.


 

Will housing be delivered prior to the leisure centre being replaced?

No. The leisure centre shell and core will be the first completed element of the project before LBE use Willmott Dixon Construction to fit out the leisure centre. Some housing will be delivered in unison with this (most likely any units delivered on top of the leisure centre), with the subsequent housing will be delivered afterwards, whilst the leisure centre is in use, minimising any disruption to users. Construction of the leisure centre will start immediately after the existing leisure centre is demolished. As stated above, this will be controlled by legal agreement.



How much affordable housing will there be on the site?

We do not know at this stage. This is because the split between ‘for sale’ units and ‘rented’ units is not yet established, nor are the overall unit numbers. However as previously mentioned a contribution of £10m stemming from recycled Right-To-Buy receipts has now also been confirmed to help fund on-site affordable housing, in the form of the Discount Market Rent model. Prices are being aimed at as being affordable (circa 40% of a full time salary) for key borough workers, such as teachers, nurses and firefighters. The assumption is that the Discount Market Rent rate will be up to 80% of the market rent.


 

How big will each unit be?

We cannot confirm final unit sizes yet, but we can confirm that the mix of unit types will be studio, 1-bed, 2-bed and 3-bed flats. What percentage of private sale units will be owner occupied and are they being offered to investors? The sales strategy has not been confirmed and cannot be drafted in detail at this early stage in the process.


 

What are the sale units going to cost?

We are not able to give exact figures at the moment, as they are not going to be on sale for quite some time.


What percentage of private sale units will be owner occupied and are they being offered to investors?

The sales strategy has not been confirmed and cannot be drafted in detail at this early stage in the process.

 


 

How close is the edge of Block G to the boundary of Peal Gardens, in the current iterations?

As per current design iteration the edge of Block G sits approximately 20m from the boundary of Peal Gardens. The impact on the residents of Peal Gardens will be carefully considered in the design of the proposal. In addition, sunlight, daylight and overshadowing, noise studies and modelling, and other assessments will accompany the planning application, assessing the impact the development would have on local residents.


 

Will the building sizes/storeys increase?

It is unlikely the overall sizes of the buildings or quantum of units will increase, as the GLA have been clear on their stance on the current quantum of building on the Metropolitan Open Land only being accepted if it demonstrates it is needed to offset the cost of the leisure centre. However, there may be some variations to the layout, heights and massing across the development as part of design development.


 

What factor will influence on how many people will live in each flat?

A fairly accurate assessment of the likely occupancy of the development can be calculated based on the proposed unit mix and the location of the development. In addition, Be will manage the rental units and will not allow overcrowding of those units.

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