Brent residents hope plans for new boxing club go ahead to 'keep kids off streets'

Stonebridge Boxing Club CGI
-Credit: (Image: Stonebridge Boxing Club)

North London residents hope plans to demolish a park pavilion and turn it into a boxing club will help ‘keep kids off the streets’ and deter antisocial behaviour and drug taking in the area. The proposal is set to be determined by Brent Council's planning committee next week.

Stonebridge Boxing Club is looking to demolish the pavilion building in King Edward VII Park in Brent and replace it with a ‘modern and high quality’ boxing club, including a gym, physio-room, sporting facilities, changing rooms, and a café.

Many blame government cuts to youth services over the years, which have left young people with little to do in the area. They believe the gym will provide a ‘benefit to the whole community’ by also making the park safer for residents by deterring drinking, drug-taking, and rough sleeping.

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The Pavilion in King Edward VII Park
A recent investigation concluded that the existing pavilion was not safe to revamp -Credit:Stonebridge Boxing Club

The original plan was to refurbish the existing derelict building, which isn’t used due to being of poor quality and regularly vandalised, to create the boxing club. However, it is said to be in an 'extremely poor state of repair' and, following an investigation, it was revealed that it wouldn’t be safe to do it, so a completely new building has been proposed.

Located in the centre of the locally listed park, the pavilion was previously used for changing and showering facilities for users of the football pitches. Stonebridge Boxing Club wants to replace it with a facility that will 'serve the local community' and 'improve park safety'.

A consultation carried out revealed that nearly three in four respondents (74 per cent) were in support of the plan, suggesting it will provide ‘much needed services’ to the community. They feel that more activity and better lighting in the area will help ‘deter drug users and antisocial behaviour’ in the park.

One supporter said: “With no youth clubs and most activities costing a small fortune I believe this club once it has found a permanent plot will help keep the youth off the streets and learn that there is more to life than following a path to gang life and crime.”

Another said: “[...] with youth services being cut over decades by governments, services and businesses like this that create community and nurture the young children's confidence and sense of community are essential for our borough to thrive.”

King Edward VII Park
Some residents feel the development would help to deter drug dealers and drinkers in the park -Credit:Stonebridge Boxing Club

They added: “The community, especially the youth, would benefit hugely from having an affordable place to go. The boxing club caters for all ages and has produced boxers that have fought for England. I believe that the impact in having an operational community based building will be beneficial.”

The remaining 26 per cent opposed the plan, with some fearing the park is being ‘steadily eroded’ by being used for events at the weekend. One said: “The park land has already been gradually eroded. There is an undoubted need for a new pavilion but primarily as changing rooms for those using the park's sporting facilities. It is becoming very evident that the park is being used increasingly in the summer for noisy weekend concerts.”

Founded in 2010 by resident Aamir Ali, the boxing club and registered charity now boasts more than 650 members. It is currently located in Fairgate House on Wembley High Road, however, the building is earmarked for redevelopment so it needs to find a new location.

The club is run by ex-professional boxers and young amateur volunteers and claims it is an 'active fighter' against gun and knife crime by keeping young people 'off the streets and out of trouble'. It delivers sessions every day of the week with the goal of reducing childhood obesity and promoting a healthy lifestyle whilst tackling youth violence and mental health issues.

A decision on whether the plan will go ahead will be determined by Brent Council’s Planning Committee next week (June 11).

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