Plans to open a boxing club in a much-loved Brent park has received a mixed response from local residents. Some fear the development will disrupt park visitors for years, whilst others believe it could help rid the park of drug dealers and drinkers.
Stonebridge Boxing Club is looking to demolish the pavilion building in King Edward VII Park in Wembley and replace it with a ‘modern and high quality’ boxing club, including a gym, physio-room, sporting facilities, and changing rooms, as well as a café. 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. The plans have received a mixed response. Some fear the development will cause ‘immense damage’ to surrounding areas of the park, disrupt visitors for the next couple of years, and make the place less safe. One said: “Building a large gym in the middle of the park, which is not safe at night, puts more people at risk.”
Another called the design for the new building ‘hideously ugly’ and said it resembles a ‘metal marquee’. They believe it isn’t eco-friendly and will look out of place in the park. However, other residents support the idea and think it will be a ‘positive improvement’ to the area.
One suggested the club will ‘create a permanent presence in the park with new lighting [and] CCTV’. They hope this will help to ‘eradicate the problems this park suffers from’, such as drug dealing and street drinking.
Located in the centre of the locally listed park, south of the basketball and tennis courts, 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’.
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.
One supportive resident said: “It gives young people, who are often working class, something to aim for within a supportive community. Particularly if they are from deprived backgrounds which increases the likelihood of getting into circumstances that might lead to crime, drugs, alcohol, or gangs.”