Lambeth Council is to confirm its commitment to Brixton Rec by earmarking £6million to carry out vital maintenance and repairs.
The recommendation will be discussed at Cabinet on July 27 and would mean securing the Rec for several years in advance of major refurbishment.
Now over 30 years old, the Rec is a hugely important community space in Brixton and has a significant place in Lambeth’s social and cultural history.
There are three quarters of a million visits each year and, as the borough’s population increases, so too will the number of people using the centre.
Lambeth Council commissioned a series of specialist surveys to look at the state of the building, its plant and machinery, access and space.
In 2014, Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) reported that while the core structure of the Rec is considered to be in sound condition, the building systems, plant and disabled access are all reaching the end of their serviceable life and will need to be replaced.
As recommended by LSH, Lambeth Council committed £500,000 to upgrade fire, health and safety measures to keep the building open and legally compliant.
The LSH report said around £9million worth of major work needs to be carried out over the next decade just to retain the Rec as it is, with no improved disabled access, nor reconfiguration of the building to make better use of space to meet current or future needs.
The £6m figure is based on the “Planned Preventative Maintenance” survey based on engineers’ RAG-rated risk assessments.
In 2014, Lambeth Council started a two-stage capacity and feasibility study to assess options for improvement and modernisation to meet future leisure demand, and to improve the Rec’s energy efficiency.
The council will continue to do further detailed work to get a better idea of the costs and scale of what’s needed to secure the Rec’s long term future.
Cllr Lib Peck, Lambeth council leader, said: “The Rec is very special, and rightly so – it’s a huge community space in Brixton that we wouldn’t be able to rebuild on this scale.
“That’s why it needs to be both cherished and used to its full potential. We all know it’s in need of repair and refurbishment and that will cost a lot of money.
“Budgets have been cut, as have services and we need to be sure that every penny we spend now is an investment, not a sticking plaster. The money we’re committing now will make sure the Rec stays open but we need to be bolder in our ambitions and look at more than just keeping it open, but making it fit for the future.
“That means looking at how space is used and shared, how its future funding, maintenance and management is provided and it means as a community, not just a council, we have to look at very realistic options.”