Work on Kenneth Cross’ grade II-listed Seymour Centre will add new fitness studios, a library and a cafe

City of Westminster councillors have given their backing to Make Architects’ proposals to refurbish the grade II-listed Seymour Leisure Centre, adding a new community library and cafe in the process.

Designed by Kenneth Cross and completed in 1937, the Marylebone centre was built as a palazzo-style red-brick courtyard block with two swimming pools in concrete structures concealed at the centre.

Last year, Westminster’s cabinet allocated £40m for the building’s refurbishment, which will include a new base for Marylebone Library over two floors.

Make’s proposals will create open-plan gym space on the lower ground floor and add a new range of studios for spin, aerobics and other classes.

Upgrade work to the Seymour Centre’s five-court sports hall will see new flooring installed to make it more accessible for wheelchair users. The spa on the lower ground floor will be enlarged, and all changing rooms will be improved and modernised with new male, female, gender-neutral and accessible changing areas.

Seymour Sports Centre 1

Source: Make Architects

Make Architects’ proposals for the sports hall at Seymour Leisure Centre

Only the smaller of the Seymour Centre’s two pools now remains. The original “first-class swimming pool” is now the sports hall at the centre of the building.

The project will see the removal of the main swimming pool tank to create space for the new lower-ground-floor fitness suite. Photovoltaic panels will be fitted to the building’s inner roof slope and an an ETFE “pillow” roof will be installed above the former courtyard, which will become a soft-play area.

The existing roof lanterns and wind catchers in the sports hall will be replaced with new double-glazed versions, and secondary glazing will be installed on all other sports-hall windows.

Seymour Sports Centre 4

Source: Make Architects

The balcony gallery at Seymour Leisure Centre, under Make Architects’ proposals

The roof lantern above the remaining swimming pool will be replaced with a double-glazed lantern. An external private roof terrace will also be created as part of the project. Additionally, four new passenger lifts and three platform lifts will be installed.

Make lodged its proposals for the project in March. A report to last night’s meeting of Westminster council’s planning committee said eight objections had been received as a result of public consultation. Concerns included the negative impact of the introduction of the new library and other community facilities on existing sports clubs and activities.

The Marylebone Association also objected to the proposals. It said the new library should not share the same entrance as the sports centre and added that the project should be targeting a BREEAM Outstanding rating rather than an Excellent one.

Campaign group the Twentieth Century Society supported the proposals.

Seymour Sports Centre 3

Source: Make Architects

Make Architects’ proposals for the library and café at Seymour Leisure Centre

Recommending the scheme for approval, Westminster planning officers said the refurbishment plans would increase the range of services on offer and result in an “enhanced” Seymour Centre.

“The proposed internal reconfiguration of the spaces allows for a better utilisation of the building,” they said.

“The proposed works are sensitive to the grade II-listed building. The loss of the original swimming pool would result in some harm to the building’s significance; however, this is outweighed by the substantial public benefits that would be delivered.

“The proposal will create a modern, energy efficient and sustainable building. The proposed uses and improvements to the building will contribute to its long-term sustainability as a listed building which benefits the community.”

Willmott Dixon is main contractor for the refurbishment. Project manager is Hadron Consulting; Donald Insall Associates is heritage consultant.

Although the sports centre is owned by the council, it is operated by business Everyone Active.

Seymour Sports Centre 6

Source: Make Architects

The sports hall at Seymour Leisure Centre