by Matt Dathan
Monday, January 14, 2013
Members of a charity-run Hampstead gym are rallying to save the premises from being sold off to private developers by Camden Council.
The Armoury in Pond Street is run by the Jubilee Hall Trust and offers discounted rates to local residents as well as accommodating patients and staff from the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead.
Camden Council, which owns the property, is considering the future of the site as part of its Community Investment Programme, under which some council-owned buildings will be sold and the profit spent on schools and council housing.
It is offering to sell the premises to the trust or to extend the lease at a substantially higher price.
However, the £1.5million sale price is more than double the amount the charity is prepared to offer and the trust’s chief executive, Phil Rumbelow, said the community gym is simply not worth that amount.
“It’s only worth paying that much for it if you demolish it and build posh flats,” he said.
“The challenge is how to get £1.5million and keep us in there and obviously you can’t square a circle, so that’s why we’re in discussions with them about how we can reach an agreement that suits both parties.”
Hampstead Town councillor Linda Chung (Liberal Democrat), a board member of the Jubilee Hall Trust and a regular user of the gym, said: “We’re very worried about it. They [the council] have asked for a figure we can’t afford at the moment.”
One campaigner, Jasbinder Bains, who lives in Hampstead Hill Gardens, has rallied gym members together in an effort to save it.
The 41-year-old compliance manager said: “It’s just been awful to see the loss of some really nice local shops in Hampstead and this would be a further loss to the high street.”
Camden Council insists it has made a “very generous” offer to the Jubilee Hall Trust and is hopeful of a “successful conclusion” to the issue.
Cllr Theo Blackwell, cabinet member for finance, said: “The Armoury did not renew their lease in 2010, as was their legal right. However, rather than market the building for sale, we have made a very generous offer to them to secure their future and discussions have been proceeding on that basis. We are hopeful of a successful conclusion to this issue.”
A final decision will be made by Camden’s cabinet on Wednesday (January 16).