Croydon Council is proposing to close the leisure centre in Purley that has been losing money and has rising multi-million-pound repair costs.
The leisure centre was losing money before the pandemic, and has been shut since the first lockdown in March 2020. A council report going to this month’s cabinet meeting recommends that the centre remain closed permanently.
When Covid-19 restrictions were lifted earlier this year, all five other council-owned leisure centres reopened to the public. Purley could not because of a broken ventilation system and a £3m ongoing repair bill. Instead, centre users were offered membership at nearby council leisure centres.
The site’s users have instead been able to use nearby council-owned leisure centres at Waddon and New Addington. The closest centre to central Purley is a 10-minute bus ride away at Waddon, and since lockdown Purley schoolchildren have continued their swim school programme from the pool at Waddon Leisure Centre.
The report going to cabinet on 18 October proposes the permanent closure of Purley Leisure Centre. A consultation opens on Monday (11 October) until 23 November to get feedback from and work with Purley users to understand the impact of the closure and ensure they can access the council’s five other leisure centres. Take part in the consultation at www.croydon.gov.uk/purleyleisurecentre
Since Covid restrictions lifted on 19 July, the council and its leisure operator GLL have not been able to reopen Purley Leisure Centre because the ventilation system has broken. Replacing this to meet the latest government Covid-19 standards on air quality and other new plant equipment would cost the council £2m, in addition to a further £1m in building repairs, maintenance and refurbishment costs.
In its last two years of operation before lockdown began in March 2020, to meet its running costs Purley Leisure Centre needed a £300,000 subsidy from the income of other council-owned leisure centres. The cabinet report underlines that this subsidy did not provide value for money and that the council has since committed to putting its finances on a sustainable footing through the Croydon Renewal Plan.
“In recent years Purley Leisure Centre’s considerable running costs have been propped up by money from the borough’s other centres.
“Now Purley Leisure Centre faces a £3m repair bill, and we can’t afford or justify this cost to our taxpayers while we have modern alternatives down the road in Waddon and New Addington.
“From this Monday we will ask centre users, residents and businesses for their feedback. Part of the consultation would also involve setting out how we would make sure Purley centre users can easily access the remaining excellent leisure facilities in the borough.”
Councillor Oliver Lewis, cabinet member for culture and regeneration