Residents lose appeal to save Brent leisure centre
Adam Shaw Local Democracy Reporter
- Credit: Brent Council
Residents have lost a long battle to save a leisure centre over fears it could be bulldozed and replaced by housing.
An appeal by a west London trust over the disputed ownership of the centre has been dismissed by a High Court Judge.
The Court of Appeal found against the Stonebridge Community Trust, a campaign group that had been fighting to protect the future of Bridge Park Community Leisure Centre in Brent.
There are plans to redevelop the leisure centre by building homes, shops and offices alongside sports facilities.
However, the trust fears local people would lose out in terms of access to and control at the site if it went ahead.
Campaigners have been locked in an ongoing legal battle with Brent Council over who owns the land, which they say belongs to the community.
They argue it was set up as a charitable trust and should be protected from private development.
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A judgement in 2020 found the council was the “sole legal and beneficial owner” of the centre and could do with it anything it saw fit.
This has effectively been upheld following the Court of Appeal’s decision, where judges agreed that “no charitable trust was created” when Brent Council purchased the land.
The centre was established in the 1980s to improve community relations at a time when there were fears there could be widespread rioting in Stonebridge.
Led by resident Leonard Johnson, who also appealed the 2020 ruling, it was to be “specifically aimed [at] but not limited to the needs of the African and Caribbean community.”
Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council, said: “The council is pleased with this outcome.
“It means we can now continue working with local communities in Stonebridge and surrounding areas to realise the potential that’s been trapped in this treasured, but crumbling, site for far too long.
“It is time now for everyone to work together to help create a fairer and more equal Brent by providing the fantastic new leisure and employment centre that local people need and deserve.”