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Case Studies

London Borough of Bexley

Europa Centre Bexley


Context

Strategic Leisure (SL) was commissioned by the London Borough of Bexley to provide support to the Council’s in-house team to oversee the funding bids and needs assessment and project management of the development of the Europa Centre. This included overseeing the construction partners, co-ordination of funding bodies and support to Europa Gymnastics Club to prepare for the management of the new development.

Europa Gym Club London Borough Bexley provides gymnastic, boxing, weightlifting, dance and martial arts opportunities to over 1,400 members, supporting the whole sports continuum, from grass roots to excellence.

The Club’s facility, on the Europa Estate, Erith, no longer met modern day standards and became increasingly unaffordable, due to substantial increases in rental from 2007 onwards. Whilst the club’s current lease expired in 2022, it contained a break clause which is operable in 2013. If a new facility was not found for the club, one of the London Borough of Bexley’s sporting venues may be forced to close.

Bexley Council worked with Europa Gym Club for over two years, to assist them in finding a new, fit for purpose venue

Approach

Europa Gymnastics Club and London Borough of Bexley were approached by Barratt Homes in 2008. Barratt Homes proposed part of the Samas Roneo site in Crayford as a suitable location, and the Council’s Planning Committee adopted a resolution to grant detailed planning consent for a new gym club and outline consent for residential redevelopment on 26th November 2009, with conditions and following a signed legal agreement, subject to a referral to the Mayor of London.

A design for the new multi-purpose gym was developed by Barratt Homes, in conjunction with the club, relevant national governing bodies of sport and the Council. The total cost of the scheme was £5,418,000. The Council engaged specialist VAT, legal and procurement advisors to find the most tax efficient and appropriate method of delivering the project.

In order to fund the scheme, the developer (Barratt Homes) provided £1.85 million (£1.5 million S106 contribution and £0.35 million in kind). In addition, other funding was sourced from Sport England, the Olympic Delivery Authority, British Gymnastics, the Amateur Boxing Association of England Limited, PlaySport London - The Mayor of London's sporting legacy fund, White Code Designs and Cory Environment Trust in Britain.

A steering group was set up to analyse all the benefits and disadvantages/risks and having sought financial and legal advice on the proposals, the preferred delivery approach of the London Borough of Bexley and its funding partners was as follows:

Barratt Homes transfer the land to the Council in accordance with the S106 agreement;

Construction phase - Barratt Homes deliver the capital scheme through a Development Agreement with the London Borough Bexley;

Accountable Body - LB Bexley became the accountable body, with all funding flowing through the Council and risk then managed through legal agreements with key partners;

Barratt Homes hand over the completed new building to LB Bexley who then lease the site to Europa Centre Trust for 25 years at an affordable rent (£1 plus VAT per annum);

Europa Centre Trust engages Europa Centre Community Interest Company to manage the facility.

LB Bexley has a legal agreement in place with Europa Centre Trust to enable claw back of funding if outcomes are not achieved.

Lessons Learnt

The importance of a steering group encompassing all partners involved understanding each other’s risks and concerns is of major importance.

Outcomes

An Iconic facility provided for a number of sports clubs (mainly gymnastics, boxing and weightlifting) to provide facilities from grass roots to elite sport.

The new centre includes:

  • A martial arts and dance studio
  • A boxing studio
  • Dedicated weights studio and fitness studios
  • A gymnastics hall large enough to hold regional and national competitions.
  • Physiotherapy and sports injury suite
  • Meeting room
  • Café

Hugh Robertson the Minister for Sport opened the Europa Centre on 6th March 2012 with Boris Johnson Mayor of London.

The Europa Centre in Bexley, South East London received funding from the Olympic Delivery Authority (£1.324 million) and lottery funding from Sport England’s Places People Play programme (£1.24 million) and will carry the London 2012 Inspire mark. Additional funding was provided by Barratts Homes (£1.8 million) Mayor of London’ Sports Fund (£200,000), British Gymnastic (£600,000), Amateur Boxing Association of England (£99,000) and Cory Enviornmental Trust (£90,000).

The Centre was also a London Organising Committee Olympic Games (LOCOG) training venue for Olympic and Paralympic volleyball squads