Woolwich leisure centre render
Changes have been made to the design of the centre to hold back cost increases

The cost of Woolwich’s new leisure centre has leapt by over 11 per cent before a brick has even been laid, Greenwich Council has revealed.

Inflation and supply chain problems mean the budget for the project – originally costed at £103.6 million – has gone up to £115.4 million. Cuts have been made to the project to help limit the increase, including saving £960,000 by using an alternative facade design.

Senior councillors will be asked to approve the new budget next Wednesday when the council’s cabinet meets.

The new leisure centre, on Woolwich New Road, is part of a wider development which will include 482 homes and five towers of up to 19 storeys. An existing council block, Troy Court, will be demolished; its 24 homes will be replaced with 51 new council units as part of the project. The Bull pub will also go, but its facade will stay.

Backbench councillors had already voiced worries about the cost of the project when they approved the scheme at a planning meeting last year; the leisure centre will replace the Waterfront complex by the Thames.

The £11.8 million shortfall will be met by a £2 million Sport England grant, £1 million in cash from developers and the rest from borrowing. Details of these have not been made public.

Council officers say they are also suffering from “unprecedented rises” in the cost of materials, with the growing cost of steel responsible for £1.3 million of the budget increase. The original budget had only allowed for a 5.6 per cent inflation rate.

The new leisure centre was due to be completed by the end of next year, the report from officers does not make clear if this timetable will be stuck to.

Councillors will discuss the report at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

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