Councillors set to decide on £5m budget bump-up for controversial leisure centre redevelopment

Finsbury Leisure Centre. Image: Google

Town Hall bosses are being asked to sign off a £5m increase in the budget for plans to rebuild a south Islington leisure centre.

The council is developing a £131m scheme for Finsbury leisure centre which includes 200 new homes – half for council tenants – and a medical centre.

Football teams are unhappy about suggestions to build blocks of flats on the sports pitches. Designers said the pitches could go on the roof of the new leisure centre off Old Street.

The number of homes has gone up by 24 from the last time the scheme was discussed by senior councillors.

Overall, Town Hall number-crunchers estimate construction will cost £86m.

They have built in £10.9m provision for inflation and a £12.9m general contingency into the overall £131m estimated costs.

At Thursday’s meeting next week, the council’s executive will be asked to approve up to £6.7m in fees and a pre-construction service agreement worth £0.9m.

They will also consider a request to sign off a £2.6m increase in the capital budget for fees.

This means the budget for the design stage of the scheme has increased from £1.6m to £4.25m, with an extra £2.4m in borrowing.

A Town Hall report warned that if the scheme is dropped, the £4.25m “would need to be written off to revenue”.

If the scheme gets planning permission in 2024, the Town Hall thinks it might need further capital funding of £21.8m – with £12.1m from the council’s
general fund and £9.6m from its Housing Revenue Account (HRA).

Finance chiefs said up to £1.2m a year should be budgeted from the general fund and £550,000 from the HRA to cover the extra cost of borrowing.

The report also warned politicians of “a significant risk that overspends could arise in the later stages”.

Construction work is likely to start in November 2024 and finish by 2027 the planning committee signs off the scheme.