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Brent Council’s response in battle over Bridge Park is to ‘serve the community as it is now, not 40 years ago’

PUBLISHED: 17:26 23 July 2020 | UPDATED: 17:26 23 July 2020

Bridge Park Community Leisure Centre (pic credit: Brent Council)

Bridge Park Community Leisure Centre (pic credit: Brent Council)

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The “legacy” of the Bridge Park leisure centre in the 1980s will remain in an “enhanced” new building for the wider community, a court has heard.

A visual of how Bridge Park Community Leisure Centre could lookA visual of how Bridge Park Community Leisure Centre could look

Brent’s chief executive Carolyn Downs took the witness stand on Wednesday (July 22) at the Rolls Building in what is a remote hearing due to the Covid pandemic.

The dispute, between Brent Council and defendants Leonard Johnson and Stonebridge Community Trust (HPCC), centres around the Bridge Park Leisure Centre in Brentfield Road being destroyed.

The plans are part of the council’s conditional land sale agreement with General Mediterranean Holdings agreed in 2017, which HPCC is against.

Ms Downs said since 2013, plans had been changed to provide a larger facility in response to the community feedback and that profits from the scheme would be invested locally.

Bridge Park community after winning Brent Council's injunction against them in 2019. Picture: Nathalie RaffrayBridge Park community after winning Brent Council's injunction against them in 2019. Picture: Nathalie Raffray

Stephen Cottle, acting for Mr Johnson, asked how much flexibility GMH holdings had shown over provision of business units and function rooms in the facility, but Ms Downs said she could not answer because of “commercial confidentiality”.

He asked if it was possible to take the community on board via the charity, but Downs said she could not speak for GMH. She also said that litigation had “halted negotiations” when the project had been on the point of signing.

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Mr Cottle said maintaining facilities “could in one view be the covenant on the land” which Brent Council had removed.

He said business units, function rooms and a crèche were still being used.

“The vision still continued on at Bridge Park and now you’re taking it away,” he said, adding that it would be a fraction of the size.

Ms Downs replied: “No we’re not, we’re enhancing it, we’re making it a much better, much more efficient, much more modern and much more cost-effective facility.”

She added: “The legacy will remain, the council is remaining true to the legacy.”

Mr Johnson resigned in 1992 “disillusioned with the lack of support from the council,” his counsel said.

But Ms Downs said the council’s response is “to serve the community as it is now, not 40 years ago” and in a report she’d seen said “there was a concern at that time that the organisation didn’t reflect the whole diversity of the community.”

The case continues.


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