Next step for leisure centre redevelopment

Town hall bosses are being asked for an extra £5 million for Finsbury Leisure Centre plans

By Julia Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter

Aeria short of the Finsbury Leisure Centre site
Finsbury Leisure Centre Google Earth Aerial: Islington Council

Town hall bosses are being asked to sign off a £5m increase in the budget for plans to rebuild a south Islington leisure centre and build 200 homes and a medical centre.

The council is developing plans for a £131m scheme to redevelop Finsbury Leisure Centre and build new homes – half for council tenants – as well as landscaping.

Football teams are unhappy about suggestions to build blocks of flats on the sports pitches. Designers said the pitches could go on the roof of the new leisure centre off Old Street.

The number of homes has gone up by 24 from the last time the scheme was discussed by senior councillors.

Overall town hall number crunchers estimate the construction will cost £86m.

They have built in £10.9m provision for inflation a £12.9m general contingency into the overall £131m estimated costs. The £10.8m fees budget will take up 12% of the costs, up from a previous estimate of £8.4m.

At Thursday’s meeting (JUNE 22) the council’s executive has been asked to green light up to £6.7m fees and a pre construction service agreement worth £0.9m – an increase in £2.8m.

They will also consider a request to sign off a £2.6m increase in the capital budget for fees.

This means the budget for the concept design stage of the scheme has increased from £1.6m to £4.25m, with an extra £2.4m borrowing.

A town hall report warned that if the scheme is dropped the £4.25m “would need to be written off to revenue”.

A concept diagram of the intended development
Finsbury Leisure Centre Concept Diagram: Islington council

It would mean that £3.14m would have to come from the HRA reserves and £1.1m from General Fund reserves.

If the scheme gets planning permission in 2024 the town hall predicts it could need further capital funding of £21.8m – with £12.1m from the council’s general fund and £9.6m from its Housing Revenue Account.

Finance chiefs said up to £1.2m a year should be budgeted form the general fund and £550,000 from the HRA to cover the extra cost of borrowing the money needed.

The report also warned politicians of “a significant risk that overspends could arise in the later stages” of the plan.

Construction work is likely to start in November 2024 and finished by 2027 if it wins the planning committee’s approval.

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