Kingston Council remains committed to building a new swimming and leisure centre in Kingston town centre.

At the same time, the country’s financial situation has had an unprecedented impact on budgets. Specifically, uplifts in the costs of construction, labour and energy, together with the effect of stretched supply chains across the country, mean that the council is now responsible for revising plans for the centre.

Revising the specification for the new centre is the prudent and responsible next step to help manage national financial pressures outside the council’s control.

This decision comes after careful consideration and exploration of costs. The council’s commitment to building a new leisure centre on the same site as the previous centre in Kingston town centre remains unchanged.

The council is one of many reassessing its spending on capital projects amid inflationary pressure. An ever-increasing number of local authorities are rethinking and pausing, or even stopping, their schemes.

On the basis of the tender received, the project cost would have been almost double the council’s budget, at £79.5m. This level of increase at the early stage of a project is extraordinary. The council decided that it cannot accept this scale of cost and is aware this will have an impact on timescales.

Cllr Andreas Kirsch, leader of the Council, says:

“We are 100 per cent committed to providing a high quality, accessible and sustainable swimming and leisure centre on the existing site in Kingston. But we must be responsible and prudent and balance our ambition with reality.

“Put simply, this is the right thing to do. It would not be financially responsible to press ahead regardless. The difficult financial conditions are the cumulative result of several years of unprecedented national and international events – of which we are all keenly aware – which are impacting every part of the economy. The increasing costs are not within the council’s control. However, we do have the ability to take action and ensure we build what residents have told us they need within an affordable budget.

“Our experienced team is working on options and will move at pace to define clear next steps. It is not appropriate to be rushed into making promises or committing to timescales without being clear on the next steps. As soon as we are able to give more detail, we will do so.”


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