Over the next ten years Lambeth’s population is set to grow by 10% – or around 30,000 people and there’ll be far more over 55s. The figures, from Sport England, mean facilities at Brixton Rec which currently gets 750,000 visits a year, need to be ready to meet the growing and changing demands of local people. Further research shows a huge increase in physically active adults in Lambeth from 14.8 per cent five years ago to 63.5 per cent, the majority being young men.
For some people, access to sport and leisure activities is limited by time, money and transport but there is widespread acknowledgement that supporting people to be more fit and active is an investment in future health. The Rec is extremely well supported by a wide range of people of all backgrounds, age and ability.
Many people who took part in the user survey commented on it being ‘more than a leisure centre’ because of its wide appeal and friendly, inclusive atmosphere.
The council has already allocated over half a million pounds for upgrading fire, health and safety measures at the Rec and commissioned a two-stage capacity and feasibility study to assess options for wider improvements, keeping the Rec as a leisure centre and vibrant community hub in the heart of Brixton.
Work’s already underway on improving the reception and foyer, an area criticised in the user survey for queues and bottlenecks at busy periods.
The core structure of the building which opened in 1985, is generally sound but systems, plant and disabled access will need to be replaced over the next decade. That major work is expected to cost around £9m and there will inevitably be some disruption and temporary closures.
Early in the new year, details of the capacity study will be published and people will have a chance to suggest and comment on how space in the Rec can be used better, by more people and for a wider range of activities.
Cllr Jane Edbrooke, Cabinet member for Neighbourhoods said: “Brixton Rec is loved, treasured and very well used. When we’ve got more information about what’s possible and affordable we’ve got a chance to think about not just keeping it open, but improving it for the future. I want us to be ambitious and imaginative about how we can share space, offer more classes, activities and community facilities.”