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Haggerston Baths: Councillors to decide fate of Victorian pool on Monday after consultation favours shops plan

PUBLISHED: 17:16 24 November 2017 | UPDATED: 09:31 28 November 2017

An artist's impression of how the building could look if developed by Castle Forge. Picture: Castle Forge Partners

An artist's impression of how the building could look if developed by Castle Forge. Picture: Castle Forge Partners

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The fate of Haggerston Baths will be decided on Monday after a consultation found most people would rather see it turned into shops than a hotel.

An artist's impression of how the building could look if developed by Castle Forge. Picture: Castle Forge Partners/Hackney Council An artist's impression of how the building could look if developed by Castle Forge. Picture: Castle Forge Partners/Hackney Council

A 16-year campaign urging the council to reopen it as a swimming pool dried up in December when the council admitted it couldn’t find the right contractor for the job. The delapidated building shut in 2000 for repairs that never ended up happening.

That means the two potential futures for the baths are both commercial – London and Regional proposes turning the building into a shared workspace for businesses, a “micro-hotel” and a space for exhibitions and film screenings.

Castle Forge would create shops, community and exhibition spaces, commercial offices and “food areas”.

A consultation ran for eight weeks from March to May to find out which option people would rather have.

The baths fell into a state of dereliction after they were closed in 2000 The baths fell into a state of dereliction after they were closed in 2000

More than 300 people from Hackney took part, with the majority favouring the Castle Forge development. Just over half the participants supported it, compared with a third supporting the London and Regional plan. More people opposed the latter’s proposals than supported it.

Supporters said the Castle Forge proposal would do more to protect the building’s heritage. The 113-year-old baths is included in the Victorian Society’s list of the most endangered Victorian and Edwardian buildings in England and Wales.

The consultation also brought up a recurring issue, with several comments expressing disappointment about a lack of pool in the plans.

The baths are costing Hackney Council £100,000 a year to keep shut, but that dwarfs the estimated renovation cost of £20million. Leasing the building means the council will still receive rent payments while keeping ownership of the building.

The opening of Haggerston Baths in 1904, when the vice-chairman of the committee, Alderman EJ Wakeling took the first plunge and swam the whole length of the pool underwater. Photo: Hackney Archives The opening of Haggerston Baths in 1904, when the vice-chairman of the committee, Alderman EJ Wakeling took the first plunge and swam the whole length of the pool underwater. Photo: Hackney Archives

Hackney’s cabinet will make the final decision on which developer gets the project. The winner will then carry out further surveys to determine how much restoration is required, before a contract is written up. They’ll also have to get approval from Historic England to ensure the historic character of the building is maintained.Until a contract is signed, however, the whole process could still fall through.

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