Replacement Finsbury Park leisure centre a step closer

Finsbury Leisure Centre.

Finsbury Leisure Centre. - Credit: Archant

A new leisure centre in Islington is a step closer after politicians agreed to ask designers to come up with a vision for the venue near Old Street.

The scheme will see the ageing Finsbury Leisure Centre replaced and is part of a masterplan for 100 “genuinely affordable homes”, a new medical centre and work on public open spaces nearby.

The current leisure centre on Norman Street has four outdoor football pitches, four squash courts, a six-court multi-sports hall, and fitness class studios and activity rooms.

It is one of eight council-owned leisure centres and sprang into action in November 2020 as a walk-through Covid testing centre.

Cllr Satnam Gill, executive member for finance and performance, said the council did not have the expertise in-house to design a modern leisure centre. The design team is likely to be appointed by March.

It needs architectural, engineering and landscaping skills and the contract is expected to come in at under £5million.

The council hopes to submit a planning application in December.

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In 2016, the council held a competition for the new leisure centre and the winning designer will be invited to tender for the contract.

According to a report for the council’s executive, it is looking at two draft schemes, one predicting a £589,000 deficit, based on 165 homes, and the other at £1m, based on including 178 homes.

In 2016, the council estimated the building project would cost £49m.

The council aims to invest money in the Ironmonger Row Baths, which have already had £17million of improvements, the nearby Toffee Park Adventure Playground, and Radnor Street Gardens, which were redesigned in 2006/7 with input from children from Richard Cloudesley School.

Cllr Una O’Halloran, executive member for community development and who grew up in Bunhill, said: ”I remember when the leisure centre was built, it is very out of date.”

She welcomed the plan to build new homes as part of the scheme.

The council’s executives agreed the  procurement strategy last week.