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A CGI image of what the exterior of the new Gurnell Leisure Centre could look like including a large sand coloured building surrounded by greeenary

‘Radically different’ leisure centre plans submitted for new Gurnell

A planning application has been submitted for a new leisure centre at the Gurnell site.

A 50-metre swimming pool, improved gym and climbing wall are just some of the facilities residents could enjoy at a new leisure centre being proposed on the site of Gurnell Leisure Centre.

Plans for the centre have been on hold since 2021 after a previous proposal for a new centre at the site was rejected by the council’s planning committee. Since then, a raft of consultation has taken place to ensure the new plans are in-line with residents’ needs and the council’s aims of supporting and creating healthier and more active communities.

The Gurnell masterplan reflects the thoughts, feelings and comments made during a 2-year consultation that started in 2022, asking residents what they would like to see in the new leisure centre and around the site.

This included a dedicated website for residents to share their views and ideas, 6 Gurnell sounding boards made up of key stakeholders, consultation events, one-to-one meetings with key leisure groups and close to 9,000 direct contacts with residents sharing information about how to get involved.

As a result of comments received in consultation, the masterplan includes a new upgraded 50m pool and a water park-style area featuring slides and a lazy river. The new, larger gym will be complemented by exercise studios and there are also plans for a new café.

Parkland around the centre will be transformed and will house a new skate park and a pump track, as well as an adults’ gym and children’s playground.

As well as an enhanced leisure experience at the new centre, the masterplan includes proposals to enhance and rejuvenate parkland, as well as provide much needed new, genuinely affordable homes that are in keeping with the area and can help fund improvements at the site.

Key changes

Key changes to the previous plans include:

  • upgrades to surrounding parkland to include flood management, new adults’ outdoor gym compared to previous minimum upgrades
  • extensive water park with 2 slides, wave machine, lazy river and more
  • a reduction in proposed new housing – from 600+ in the original plan to 300 in the new proposals
  • reduction in the height of new housing block – from 17-storeys in the original plan to maximum of 10 in the new proposals.

A chance to change the face of leisure in the borough

Council leader Peter Mason said, “We want a destination leisure centre to serve residents, families, and the next generation of sporting champions. This radically different masterplan reflects that vision.

“Built in the 1970s, the old Gurnell had reached the end of its useful life. Deciding to close the existing leisure centre was a difficult but well-thought-out decision.

“Independent advisors have made it clear that a new centre is the most environmentally friendly and cost-effective solution for the site. This means we have a chance to change the face of leisure in the borough, build upon some of the excellence we have already seen at centres like Acton, and provide first-class facilities for people of all ages and abilities.

“We have listened to feedback from residents, sports groups, and centre users about their objections to the first, failed planning application. The new plan reflects and responds to previous concerns about the height and number of residential units.

“There has also been a strong emphasis on reusing key elements of the building to help reduce waste and cost but also stay true to our values of being as sustainable as possible in all council developments.”

Polly Knewstub, cabinet member for thriving communities, added: “Reports have shown that it would take major work and investment to bring the centre as is up to a standard that would allow it to reopen safely and for local people to enjoy it again.

“If we adopted a ‘sticking plaster’ approach this would have lasted for a while but soon we would have to revert to plan b again – a new leisure centre that is fit for the future with high-class facilities and experiences that will serve generations to come.

“We have left no stone unturned in this round of Gurnell Leisure consultation. We want to deliver on our commitment to providing a new centre on the site without any further delays. What we’re proposing is in line with what residents have said they want, so there are some new and exciting additions to what has been proposed before.

“The new masterplan promises a modern, high-quality leisure that is a gateway to health, wellbeing, and enjoyment for our community. There is a great mix of activities for all, a choice of pools for all swimming levels and improved parkland which will provide new opportunities for activity and socialising.”

You can read and provide feedback on the Gurnell masterplan by visiting the council’s planning portal and searching for planning application 241706OUTR3. The planning statement provides an overview of the proposals. The plan is expected to be considered by the council’s planning committee later this year.

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