Will local residents be priced out of using Kingston's new leisure centre?
Kingston Council officers - in recommending for approval the planning application for a new leisure centre to replace The Kingfisher - gave no assurances to members of the Planning Committee that the sporting and gym facilities at the new centre will be priced in a way so that they are affordable to everyone in the community
Neither did councillors demand any such assurances and they approved the planning application with no guarantees or conditions that would ensure that everyone will be able to afford to use the centre's sporting and gym facilities
The council has also not agreed a community use agreement for any of the sporting facilities that the leisure centre may contain. Such an agreement would guarantee a minimum number of hours of use by the community on pre-agreed terms. The Football Foundation specifically asked for such an agreement for the rooftop football pitch in its response to the planning application but this appears to have been ignored
Remember that the whole health suite at The Kingfisher was only refurbished in 2017 with a new spin studio added, and Sport England paid over £300,000 to completely refurbish the changing rooms at The Kingfisher around the same time
And The Kingfisher remained affordable to everyone
The monthly membership cost to use all the facilities at the centre started at only £37.50
As you can see in the image above, the council's latest update on its plans for the Kingfisher site mentions affordability in a heading.
But that is it
The council does not discuss planned pricing at all, anywhere
If Kingston Council really intends to replace The Kingfisher, a centre that they recently agreed to be listed as an Asset of Community Value, with new sporting facilities that are affordable to residents of all means, why has it said nothing about planned pricing for any of those facilities?
Kingston Council has not made any commitment to affordable pricing policies or community use agreements for any of the sporting and gym facilities they say will be provided at the new centre and they have provided no assurance that we will all be able to afford to use it
There is every risk that The Kingfisher Leisure Centre, an Asset of Community Value, will be replaced with facilities that may have restricted public use and that not everyone may be able to afford to use
This simply is not right
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