Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Letter to Second Clerk of the Committee from the Head of Business and Finance, Fusion—Southwark Community Leisure Limited

  I write following a telephone conversation you had recently with my colleague Helen Hayes from urban regeneration consultants Town Centres Limited, about the issues facing the Camberwell Leisure Centre, and the potential interest of these issues to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee public evidence session on the Sport of Swimming on Tuesday 4 December 2001.

  We are currently developing an innovative partnership approach to attracting the necessary funding to regenerate Camberwell Leisure Centre, which is an impressive grade II listed building, which may be of interest to the Committee. Our approach is outlined in this letter. In addition I attach a copy of the Camberwell Leisure Centre Regeneration Scoping report (not printed), which sets out further detail on the use of the facility and the aims of this project. Please note that this is an interim report, and the project is due to be completed by mid-January 2002.

  Camberwell Leisure Centre is a wet and dry facility situated in Camberwell, south-east London. It is leased from Southwark Council and operated by Southwark Community Leisure Ltd (trading as Fusion). Fusion is an independent, not-for-profit, community-focused organisation. It currently operates seven leisure centres in the London Borough of Southwark, and has recently commenced the phased refurbishment of Dulwich Leisure Centre—similar in age and design to Camberwell Leisure Centre—providing an extremely high quality health and fitness facility through £¾ million investment to date.

  Camberwell Baths were opened in 1892 and provided "First Class" and "Second Class" baths. The building is Grade II listed. After many alterations during its history, it now provides a 25-metre pool, a teaching pool, a two-court games hall and a multi-purpose space.

  A dilapidation survey carried out in 1997 concluded that there are significant structural issues to be addressed, and that the heating, ventilation and filtration systems and water treatment plant would need complete overhaul/replacement by about 2005 (the last overhaul of the pool plant took place in the late 1980s). The general condition of the pool and its ancillary facilities is not satisfactory, with issues around water and ambient temperature, water cleanliness, hygiene and inadequate changing facilities. It is estimated that the requisite works to the pool hall, wet ancillary areas and pool plant would cost in excess of £2.5 million.

  These points notwithstanding, the pool at Camberwell Leisure Centre is a much-valued community facility. It delivers a significant swimming lesson programme to 16 local schools, its National Teaching Plan swimming lessons are well attended, and it is used by a number of local swimming clubs. Its dry-side facilities are used by many local community groups for sports, arts, training, meetings and social events. There is substantial local support for the facility, and there is great potential for a revitalised and redeveloped centre to be a notable community asset.

  The need for investment is clear. However, it is apparent that the necessary funding is unlikely to be available from a single source, such as the local authority. Fusion believes that there are opportunities to build a coalition of funding partners that will deliver an innovative solution to the problem and provide the financial support that will enable the Camberwell Leisure Centre to continue to provide valued, high quality facilities for the local community.

  Fusion is working with urban regeneration consultancy Town Centres Limited to draw up and implement a redevelopment programme that will see Camberwell Leisure Centre play a significant role in the wider regeneration of the area. A regeneration scoping exercise was commenced in July 2001; consultations with customers and local community groups, organisations and schools is now concluding; and outline project proposals will be prepared in January 2002. The scoping exercise has identified a number of community organisations requiring accommodation in Camberwell, including a childcare provider, a healthcare provider and arts organisations. The consultation process has also confirmed the position of the leisure centre as a highly valued local facility. Developing the Camberwell Leisure Centre as a multi-purpose centre to meet local community needs will, we believe, enable funding to be drawn from a wide range of sources, and will help to maximise use of the centre by a wider cross-section of the local population.

  The document outlines our approach and progress so far. The scoping exercise will be finalised over the next few weeks, and proposals will be taken forward, with our partners in the coming months.

28 November 2001

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