Britannia Leisure Centre campaigners fume over demolition plans at packed meeting
PUBLISHED: 10:21 06 November 2017 | UPDATED: 10:29 06 November 2017
save britannia campaign
Angry campaigners met on Monday to discuss the future of Hoxton's Britannia leisure centre amid controversial plans to replace it with a new sports hub, a school and luxury housing.
Sixty-eight neighbours held a meeting at Arden Estate Community Hall to voice objections to the demolition of the 36-year-old Hyde Road leisure centre.
Despite a £300,000 facelift last year, the leisure centre – complete with its beloved wave machine – will be knocked down and replaced by a 900-place secondary school, a state-of-the-art sports facility, and 480 flats. Just 80 of those will be affordable.
Pat Turnbull from the Save Britannia Leisure Centre group said: “They have tried to paint a picture of Britannia that it is on its last legs.
“But when we speak to people there, they are stunned at the idea that this leisure centre needs knocking down.”
The council said they used feedback from summer workshops run with leisure centre users to help shape the plans. The new centre will have a six lane, 25m pool with a moveable floor, along with a training pool and spectator seating. Squash courts, five aside pitches, tennis courts and exercise studios also feature in the plans.
Jon Burke, councillor for Hackney’s Woodberry Down, said the lack of government funding for leisure centres was a “chronic problem” leading to them falling into disrepair. He said: “We don’t want to leave the Britannia Leisure Centre to rot – our residents deserve better than that – so we’re having to think creatively about how to raise the funds for a new leisure centre, as well as a much needed secondary school for local children.”
But campaigners disagree – as demonstrated by their petition rejecting the plans, which has amassed more than 3,000 signatures.
“It’s not like this is a one off,” Pat said. “This area is on the verge of an opportunity area – it’s like a big attractive magnet for developers – and our worry is that this is going to carry on.
“When you get a concentration of luxury housing you force up rents for small businesses nearby. There’ll be entire bands of luxury housing spreading across Shoreditch Park.”
The development will be funded by the sale of the site’s private housing, with the existing leisure centre remaining open until the new one is complete.