The decision has been made. Battersea Sports Centre is closing to make way for affordable housing.

Councillors voted last night, with eight votes to four, for the sports centre to be knocked down and replaced with up to 90 low cost homes.

Wandsworth Times:

Campaign: Labour party members, staff and gym-users fought against the plans

The centre is set to close in spring next year, making five full-time and nine casual staff members redundant.

The council previously described the centre as “ageing and underused”, but a campaign was launched by opposition Labour councillors, service users and staff to keep it open.

The plans have proved controversial and seriously divided opinion.

The Tory-held council argued the plans were vital in the context of the huge regeneration of the Winstanley and York Road estates and said the homes would provide housing for families living in bad conditions.

Families will be decanted to the homes while the estates are rebuilt. Councillors emphasised their plans to open a new £1.3m sports pitch in nearby Falcon Park and alternative services at Cauis House, St John Bosco School and Latchmere Leisure Centre.

Wandsworth Times:

Future homes: The council has embarked on a huge regeneration project 

However, Labour councillors and service users said the centre was heavily used and a key asset to a deprived community. They said affordable housing could be provided without demolishing a sports centre.

The Labour Party campaigned against the closure and submitted a petition to the council with 750 signatures.

The centre, which is in one of the most deprived areas of the borough, costs £100,000 a year to run and has four badminton courts, gym, dance studio, café, treatment room, outdoor basketball court and an outdoor pitch.

Many have spoken out about the decision and this is what they had to say:

Wandsworth Times: Wandsworth Councillor Paul Ellis

Councillor Paul Ellis, the council’s housing spokesman, said: “The Conservatives have a vision for transforming the local area that will make a real difference to some of the most deprived communities in Wandsworth. Labour have refused to back the Winstanley and York Road masterplan and now they are actively trying to block the first batch of new social rent homes we need to get the project started. It’s a great shame they are focused only on the short term. They need to look past the election.”

Wandsworth Times:

Will Martindale, Battersea’s Labour MP candidate, has vowed to continue his campaign to save the sports centre and said: “We are all heartbroken by the council’s decision. Over 750 people signed my petition to save Battersea Sports Centre. I’ve heard from a women’s keep-fit class, a karate club and a netball team who tell me how much Battersea Sports Centre means to them.”

Wandsworth Times: Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia: "We cannot absorb costs beyond our control"

Ravi Govindia, Wandsworth Council leader, said: “It’s obvious Mr Martindale rushed into opposing the redevelopment of Battersea Sport Centre before realising the key role it plays in providing new social housing for Winstanley and York Road residents. It appears he is more interested in chasing a few votes rather than supporting new homes and opportunities for the many.”

Wandsworth Times:

Fleur Anderson, Labour councillor for Bedford ward, is on the committee and said the “amazing” success of the centre should speak for itself. She said: “I woke up this morning still outraged by the Tory decision to cut an amazing community sports centre in the most needy area of Wandsworth.”

Wandsworth Times: Councillor Jonathan Cook warned some street collections are scams

Jonathan Cook, deputy council leader, said: “Most people can see that building a far bigger sports centre as well as transforming two of the most deprived estates in the borough are good things. We will help all of Battersea Sport Centre’s users to transfer to alternative local facilities so the short-term disruption is minimised.”

Wandsworth Times:

Simon Hogg, Latchmere Labour councillor, said: “This sports centre does a great job serving Battersea's most deprived communities. It's unbelievable that Tory councillors voted to close it. The Winstanley Estate needs investment and regeneration. Closing the local sports centre is a terrible decision.”

Wandsworth Times:

Melanie Hampton, Tory councillor for St Mary's Park, said: "It is a real shame that rather than back a scheme for better sports facilities and affordable housing Labour are instead choosing tactical electioneering over positive plans for a better future for local residents. Caius House has fantastic sports facilities and is taking the majority of groups from the Battersea Sports Centre."

Wandsworth Times:

Chris Howe, Ukip prospective Parliamentary candidate for Battersea, said: “The Sports Centre’s management were very persuasive in making the case for the centre to remain where it is, in its entirety. This is a view I agree with. It is unthinkable that such a popular and well run local institution should be closed or even under the threat of closure.”

Wandsworth Times:

Councillor Ian Hart, Tory councillor for Nightingale ward, accused Labour of trying to scrap the £1.3m development of the Falcon road sports pitch and added: "We were all very shocked at the community committee last night when the Labour councillors voted against new low-rent affordable homes in the Battersea area.  I think that they have lost touch with reality. We need more homes in Wandsworth to meet the current demand and the general population increase in London."

Wandsworth Times:

Leonie Cooper, Furzedown Labour councillor, said: "Expensive vanity projects trumped local community health needs last night and I've never been more disgusted."

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