Figures before Greenwich Council’s Cabinet show further falls in users of Greenwich borough leisure centres operated by council spin-off Better.
According to the report: “in Q3 2019, the Leisure service has experienced an 8.5% (38,420) drop in visits from 450,106 to 411,686 during Q3 2018 over all of the leisure facilities.”
A number of factors are given as reasons. One is the closure of Thamesmead’s pool for a month which would have had sizeable impact yet steep falls were in evidence before that.
Another factor given is the closure of Waterfront car park for tower blocks under construction for Berkeley Homes.
The Waterfront is moving to a new location in the town centre yet has fallen behind originally scheduled dates. One issue is Wilkos’ lease on the planned site off General Gordon Square and no alternative site being procured in the town centre.
Increased competition is given as another reason. Many gyms and fitness centres have opened in Greenwich and Woolwich. Energie Fitness opened in very close proximity to the existing Waterfront centre in December which could impact upon the next quarter figures. It is comfortably cheaper per month.
Another factor which is never mentioned in these reports is very poor public realm which acts as a disincentive to visit some leisure centres on foot or bike. The existing Waterfront has a dual carriageway one side (with masses of street clutter), a ferry terminal the other and now a building site next door.
Greenwich Centre is beside a pretty awful junction and a small pocket park is unlikely to do much to improve it. Masses of new homes on the Peninsula should be a big potential market but as I hear again and again, many people won’t walk such poorly designed streets to reach it.
Improvements are forever on the horizon but progress painfully slow. An agreement with TfL for more money to mitigate Silvertown Tunnel saw only £350,000 extra procured after nine months of talks, and improvement towards the dangerous Angerstein roundabout are not part of the legally binding agreement. That’s because the Mayor has promised cash as part of separate schemes – but we’ve heard that before.
Cash for the area due in 2012 appears to have not been spent. Cash due to be spent this financial year has seen no public consultation and no one seems to know what is happening.
You all know about the many millions of S106 and CIL income derived locally.
And then this forthcoming week there are plans for 61 student rooms which are due to be approved in east Greenwich. Once again nothing is due to be allocated to improve local streets for better links and accessibility.
Hopefully the tide can be turned as many leisure centres offer very good services and also help bring footfall to libraries.
The report can be seen here.