Election brings London leisure centre job to a halt


Delays to a leisure centre development in London have been blamed on rules around election-time funding.

Kingston Council said that “strict rules around the use of council resources” in the weeks running up to an election meant it was unable to push forward with plans to replace the old Kingfisher Leisure Centre until after the election.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called the election for 4 July, meaning public engagement on the leisure centre has been postponed from the end of May to the middle of July.

The council has also come up with a new design for the project, after soaring costs forced it to rethink its plans last year.

The Kingfisher Leisure Centre was forced to close in 2019 due to structural roof problems.

The council originally budgeted £39.6m for a new leisure centre on the same site, but revealed last year that the project price had risen to £79.5m.

It branded the cost increase “extraordinary”, blaming inflation in construction material costs, labour prices, energy costs and “stretched supply chains”.

To combat the cost overrun, the council scrapped the original plans and reduced the new building’s size from five to two storeys, which it said should reduce the cost to £44.5m.

Dutch contractor and leisure specialist Pellikaan was named the council’s construction partner in the new-look plans. The firm was brought on board early in the process to “give better assurances around costs and programme”, the council said last week in a statement.

The council had planned to submit a planning application this autumn after the public engagement process, but it has now refused to say when the application will be filed.

“We will confirm the revised dates and how to get involved after the general election has taken place,” it said in an online statement.



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