Talking about Regeneration

The writer hasn’t visited a Sports Centre for a decade or three and he’s certainly never been to a local Borough Council Committee Meeting before.

But yesterday evening there was chance to hear about the one and witness the other.

It was indeed impressive to hear the impassioned views and thoughtful comments of staff and users of the ‘under threat of closure’ Battersea Sports Centre.

It was equally depressive to observe that their pleas fell on the deaf ears of the members of the Planning Committee, whose minds were almost certainly made up already.

Whilst it is obviously valid to contemplate and propose large-scale regeneration projects – and then undertake consultation with ‘disrupted’ residents – it is surely both devious and dubious practice not to mention key implications of the changes.

In this instance that to accommodate ‘decanted’ residents the much-loved and much-used local sports/community/activity centre would be razed to the ground within the next 12 months.

With its replacement being ready in some 3 to 5 years – that’s forward planning for you, Wandsworth-style.

Talking about Their Generation

It is a reasonably well-charted hypothesis that community institutions, such as the Battersea Sports Centre, act as key objects of ‘social cohesion’. Therefore by definition closing it down will almost certainly lead to ‘social division’.

As Wandsworth moves, like many London boroughs, to a markedly younger demographic composition surely it is the role of the local authority to maintain, enhance and not terminate such centres and to build for the future of its residents.

Talking about Degeneration

So … what started out as an honourable regeneration project is fast becoming a dishonourable degeneration farce. And like a lot of farce it is not funny at all.



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