New opportunities could be opened up for local footballers, boxers, sports lovers and even local artists in the multi-million pound refurbishment for the Brixton Recreation.
The structure of the building will not change, but the council plans major works inside to improve the interior. Extraordinarily, they have found that around 25% of the 13,975m2 space in the Recreation Centre is currently unused, with much of that locked away completely behind closed doors.
The council has now completed early research into the structure of the building, demographics of users, and a user survey. In a consultation starting in December, local residents will be asked want they want to see in the Recreation Centre, with the emphasis on it being about ‘recreation’ rather than pure sports.
At a public meeting of the Brixton Rec Users Group in October, locals insisted that they want to keep the Rec as an incredible resource for all members of the community. Some people who have used the Rec since the 1980s remembered that it once housed a bar, a nightclub, batique classes, and drumming alongside a plethora of other activities. It still acts as a mosque, a church and an examination hall.
Steadman Scott, who runs Afewee Football and Boxing clubs, said: “with any fancy stuff you put in there, please make sure you put in space for our youngsters, stuff to uplift them, to give them dreams. Make this building be what it is supposed to be.”
Many people at the meeting were worried about the possibility that the council will team up with a developer to pay for some of the works, which would likely dilute community demands in favour of financial ones. One person praised the relationship that has developed between the Brixton Rec Users Group and Lambeth council, saying: “our hearts drop when we think of a third party coming in and upsetting that.” The other option, that the council run the whole refurbishment itself, is also being considered.