The future of Bridge Park
Brent Council is working with the owners of the Unisys buildings to redevelop the Bridge Park site that has been part derelict for more than 15 years to improve the area for local people.
The exciting mixed development proposals include a brand new Community Hub with improved leisure facilities, community space, modern workspace and new homes.
(Leader of the council Cllr Muhammed Butt talks about the enhanced proposals, an aerial view of the current Bridge Park site and an artists' impression showing what the new centre could look like.)
We’ve taken on board residents’ views and want to work with local people to deliver much more than a replacement for the current Bridge Park Community Leisure Centre (BPCLC).
Subject to getting the necessary planning and legal approvals, the New Bridge Park Centre will contain the following:
- A six lane swimming pool with a moveable floor
- 4 Court Sports Hall
- Modern community facilities including 2 function halls and meeting rooms – more than twice the size of current provision
- Bigger Fitness Gym with up to 100 stations
- Flexible business space to support local enterprise
- 72 space car park
- New Accommodation for Independent Living (NAIL) housing for vulnerable residents
- Sauna & steam rooms
- Café Area
- Children’s Soft Play Area & Party Room
- Additional space for Clip & Climb
- Spin Studio
- Changing Facilities
- Toning Suite
- Consultation Rooms
Background and timeline
The council’s Bridge Park Community Leisure Centre and associated buildings require significant investment to bring them up to a reasonable standard and funds are not available to do this given that the Government has cut the council’s core funding by 79%. Bridge Park also suffers from the fact that it has an inefficient layout, poor heating and high running costs due to its structure.
In June 2013, Brent looked at options for developing the Unisys and Bridge Park sites for residential and commercial development to pay for a new sports centre.
In February 2014, Brent consulted with local residents on four options for the layout of the new facility.
In June 2017, the council agreed to sell part of its land to the owners of the Unisys buildings on the condition that the whole site would be redeveloped to include housing, a modern leisure centre and a new hotel including restaurants and bars.
In October 2017 the council carried out a further six week consultation asking residents what they wanted to see as part of a modern leisure centre. This consultation included: 505 door to door interviews with residents representative in terms of age, gender and ethnicity, questionnaires, a series of consultation meetings, drop in sessions and a presentation to the Harlesden Connects Forum. 286 responses from the questionnaire were received and in total over 200 people attended a consultation meeting, drop in session and forum.
Cllr Krupesh Hirani, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Culture & Leisure, said: “We are keen to work with the community to deliver a modern facility that meets their current and future needs.
We aim to improve the area surrounding the Unisys buildings by working with the building owners to deliver a brand new Community Hub that will bring new jobs and opportunities to Stonebridge residents
Due to the condition of the buildings at the Bridge Park site, the council agreed to sell part of the land to an adjoining land owner. We recognise the work that the Harlesden People’s Community Council have done in the past and realise that lots of people have an emotional attachment to the current Bridge Park Leisure Centre, given its history. We want to retain and enhance that by working with local people to ensure that we have a facility in the area that is purpose built and there for all the community to use for the foreseeable future. Residents were consulted in October and November 2017.
The council considered all responses and agreed that the draft proposals should be enhanced to reflect the wishes of Stonebridge residents. We are pleased to confirm that the new facility will be a vast improvement on what is currently on site.
We aim to provide a bigger and improved Community Hub including new leisure facilities, more space for businesses than is currently available, new accommodation for our vulnerable residents and bigger community space.
The council is negotiating amendments to the contract to increase the use of the land in line with the feedback received from residents in the consultation. A paper will be put to Cabinet on 11 February 2019 to seek agreement for this proposal.
All the proceeds from the sale will go into building and delivering the new facility.
You may be aware of the extensive amount of publicity surrounding the sale of the land. You may also be aware that the Harlesden People’s Community Council (HPCC) has stated that they have an interest in the land and that the council should be prohibited from selling it.
HPCC have therefore applied to the Land Registry to place a restriction against the council’s title.
It is important to note that HPCC have not been successful in placing a restriction against the council’s title.
The council has applied to the courts to determine this issue rather than the Land Registry/First-Tier Tribunal. Having the courts determine this issue was the quickest and most cost effective way of dealing with this matter.
The council has made an interim application to court to obtain a declaration confirming that HPCC do not have an interest in the land.
At the same time as the legal proceedings, the council is attempting to mediate the dispute to see if we can possibly come to an agreement and achieve a resolution to settle this matter.
Whatever the court decides, the council remains committed to working with the local community to ensure that any proposals taken forward are done so with the aim of improving the lives of its residents.”
Bridge Park legal update
The High Court confirmed yesterday (August 20) that Stonebridge Community Trust’s (HPCC) claim that the Bridge Park Leisure Centre land is held as a charitable trust cannot proceed as HPCC do not have legal standing to bring the claim to court.
A potential barrier to the redevelopment of the site has therefore been removed and the council is one step closer to winning the whole legal case and delivering new facilities for residents.
Cllr Krupesh Hirani, Brent Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, Culture & Leisure, said:
“This judgement has clarified the point about whether a charitable trust exists or not. We have offered to sit around the table to discuss ways in which the local community can get involved in taking proposals for a new Bridge Park forward to ensure that the community of Stonebridge and beyond get the excellent new facilities that local people are demanding."
The court ruled that Brent’s legal costs in this matter be paid by the defendant.
For further information about the project contact
- Project Manager- Tanveer Ghani
- Email- Tanveer.firstname.lastname@example.org
When will the current Bridge Park Community Leisure Centre (BPCLC) close?
The council’s plan is to keep the current Bridge Park Leisure Centre open until the Conditional Land Sale Agreement (CLSA) is completed. Further information about any proposals to close BPCLC will be provided in due course.
When is the redevelopment expected to begin and how long will it last?
It is too early to say at this stage although we don’t expect anything to happen on the site until 2020 at the earliest. The immediate target is to satisfy the terms and conditions for completing the CLSA. At key milestones of the project, the council will continue to publish updates online and through local press.
What will the New Bridge Park Centre look like?
Please view the current proposals below.
Above: Initial artists' impressions showing what the new centre could look like.
Will prices go up?
Pricing policies will be set by the council and reflect those of other Brent Council leisure facilities.
Is the council is getting rid of community space?
There is 1118sqm of community space in the new proposed building, which is more than double what is currently available.
Is there is less space for businesses in the new proposed building?
There is more commercial space available to Brent businesses in the new community building. Within the Bridge Park Community Leisure Centre and Technology House buildings, there is 2176sqm of commercial use space and in the new proposed building there will be up to 2258sqm of Enterprise space.
How will Brent maximise/prioritise social housing rather than affordable?
Brent Council’s Development Management Policies DPD which were adopted in November 2016 sets out the council’s policies for affordable housing highlighting that the starting point is to try and secure 50% affordable homes.
Please refer to the Development Management Policies Development Plan Document (DPD), which sets out detailed policies which are used to determine planning applications for development in the borough.
The owners of the Unisys site have been hoarding it for over 25 years. Why are the council working with them?
As detailed in the 17 June 2013 Executive Report on Bridge Park the Unisys office buildings had been vacant for over 15 years. While the landlord had secured planning consent for a hotel complex in both Unisys office buildings they had not built out the consent. They propose instead to refurbish one of the blocks for a much smaller hotel and convert the other office block to accommodate new residential development.
The council had previously spent some time examining whether it could afford to re-provide a sports centre by developing only the Bridge Park site. The 2013 report stated the council’s site alone achieved a land value of c. £4m against the cost of building a new sports centre of approximately £9m.
Officers therefore considered if a development between the adjoining landowner and the council would secure a significant land value to afford a replacement facility. The analysis concluded that if some Community Infrastructure Levy is also added to the scheme then it is possible to meet the full cost of building a new sports facility. The other benefit of a joint approach is that the comprehensive nature of the development helps overcome potential flood issues on the site and also increases overall values as the outlook between the two sites is enhanced and the open space within the scheme can be planned comprehensively.
Why can’t the council compulsory purchase the Unisys site rather than the car breakers yard?
Brent would not be successful in seeking a CPO whilst the landowner was actively seeking to progress the development, which they have been doing for the past five years.
The 2013 Executive Report further explains the basis and justification for acquiring the Car Breakers site. The presence of the Car Breakers site in close proximity would significantly harm the desirability and value of the residential accommodation proposed, bringing into question the viability of the scheme which is required to kick- start the regeneration of the combined Bridge Park and Unisys sites.
Incorporating the Car Breakers site into the wider redevelopment offers both a more rational design and ensures that a viable scheme can be produced that enables the delivery of the New Bridge Park Centre.
Why is the council disposing of the site at an under value given the proposed density of development?
In accordance with its statutory duties the council is under a duty to ensure that the council does not dispose of land for a consideration less than the best that can be reasonably obtained.
The base price in the Conditional Land Sale Agreement (CLSA) is supported by an independent report by a Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), full registered Member competent in valuation.
The CLSA also makes provision for revaluation using market prices current at the time at pre-planning submission and post-planning approval stages thus ensuring the council receives best value for its land optimising the capital receipt. The CLSA is subject to three conditions: planning consent; financial viability; and vacant possession.
In respect of the application to the Land Registry, why is the council fighting the community with public funding rather than supporting the community with public funding?
Brent is defending its position as the land registered title owner and remains committed to the redevelopment proposals that will bring significant benefits to the community. It is unfortunate that the making of an application for a restriction has required the council to expend public money to defend it.
Letting the issue over land ownership rumble on would cause delays in completing on the CLSA, and so the council was advised to take action to settle the issues as quickly as possible. The council is acting on that advice.
What will happen to Technology House?
The council will require vacant possession of the Technology House site which will be demolished to enable delivery of the New Bridge Park Centre. Brent is encouraging all tenants to engage with the council to discuss possible options.
Will there be a role for the community to be involved in the redevelopment of Bridge Park?
The Conditional Land Sale Agreement is a time-limited contract between the council and the developer. The CLSA includes a range of terms and conditions that need to be met in order to complete the sale of council land to the developer. Please refer to the reports highlighted in the ‘Things to Read’ section for further information about the CLSA.
Whatever the court decides on application to the Land Registry the council remains committed to working with residents on the development.
Bridge Park Community Leisure Centre
Find out what's on at Bridge Park Community Leisure Centre.
Things to read
Cabinet have previously approved five papers relating to the redevelopment of Bridge Park starting from June 2013 up to January 2017
- Bridge Park - Public Consultation Plan
- 17 Jun 2013: Bridge Redevelopment Proposals
- 17 Feb 2014: Proposed Redevelopment of Bridge Park Leisure Centre
- 27 Jul 2015: Bridge Park – To Enter into Heads of Terms
- 19 Oct 2015: Procurement of Architectural Led Design Team
- 16 Jan 2017: Approval to Enter into the Conditional Land Sale Agreement