Popular Hampstead gym is saved
By poppy_smith | Friday, March 22, 2013, 13:52
The future of a popular Hampstead gym has been secured thanks to a partnership deal between Camden Council, the Royal Free Charity and the Jubilee Hall Trust (JHT).
The Armoury building in Pond Street had been identified as a potential 'tenant sale' as part of the Council's Community Investment Programme, which seeks to release the value of Council assets and generate much needed funding for schools.
In January Camden's Cabinet made a decision to dispose of the property after three months if negotiations to sell the building to JHT could not be resolved.
However, recognising that The Armoury building is home to a popular and affordable gym run by the Jubilee Hall Trust, the Council has worked with The Royal Free Charity and the Jubilee Hall Trust to broker a partnership deal which will see a win-win situation for gym users and local residents.
In a decision set to be ratified by Camden's Cabinet next month, The Royal Free Charity will buy the freehold for the building from Camden while at the same time granting a new lease to the JHT to continuing running the gym. The deal means the Council will be able to release funds from the building and reinvest them in repairing local schools.
Councillor Theo Blackwell, Camden's Cabinet member for Finance, said:
"I am really pleased we've been able to broker this win-win deal on The Armoury. Local people really wanted the future of the gym to be secured and we promised to do all we could to make this happen. With its health benefits it makes total sense to talk to the Royal Free Charity. Not only will the gym remain but vital capital we need to repair our schools will be released. By working with the Royal Free Charity we have been able to secure a sustainable future for the gym and release the investment we desperately need."
Chris Burghes, CEO of the Royal Free Charity, added:
"This is a great opportunity for us to purchase The Armoury building and we have also agreed a new lease with the Jubilee Hall Trust. The gym has been giving a large number of people the chance to exercise in an affordable environment and has been doing excellent work with those who have suffered or are recovering from illness at the Royal Free Hospital. "
Phil Rumbelow, Chief Executive of the Jubilee Hall Trust, agreed:
"We are delighted that the Royal Free Charity has stepped in to help us to secure the future of The Armoury as a community gym, which enables more than 2,000 Camden residents - many of them disadvantaged - to be more active. The uncertainty over the last few months has made things very difficult for us, and we are grateful for the outstanding support of our gym members, our staff and many other local people. We look forward to working in partnership with the Royal Free Charity, to continue to build a healthier community in Camden for the foreseeable future."
The final decision on the new arrangements will be formally agreed at a meeting of Camden's Cabinet in April.