Britannia Leisure Centre fire: Hoxton centre evacuated after blaze breaks out in sauna
PUBLISHED: 17:50 04 February 2019 | UPDATED: 20:33 04 February 2019
The Britannia Leisure Centre in Hoxton was evacuated tonight after a fire broke out in the sauna.
Firefighters were called to the Hyde Road facility at about 5.15pm. Hackney Council has said no one was injured.
The blaze was under control by 6.30pm but the centre remains closed. Police have also taped off nearby roads while firefighters deal with the incident.
The Britannia underwent a controversial £300,000 facelift in 2016 despite being earmarked for demolition.
One witness said: “Staff seemed to get everyone out really quickly.
“The sauna is off to the side of the building. Hopefully the gym, halls and courts are OK.”
Four fire engines are at the scene.
The Britannia is set to be flattened as part of the council’s £384million plan to build homes, a school and a new leisure centre on Shoreditch Park.
The plans have been bitterly opposed by the Save Britannia group, which doesn’t believe the new centre will be good enough; opposes the loss of green space and the building of homes for private sale; and fears that financing the operation by selling luxury flats after the school and leisure centre are built is risky in an unstable housing market.
Hackney Council has repeatedly rebutted claims that the Britannia is in perfect working order. Mayor Phil Glanville said in 2017 it was “beyond repair” and “approaching the end of its life” unless £14m could be spent refurbishing it – which would require its closure for two years.
In a tweet, Mr Glanville said of the fire: “Awful news. Senior officers onsite, @hackneycouncil are jointly coordinating response & working with @lfbhackney who are dealing with the fire. More info soon.”
The Britannia is operated by Better, which holds contracts for a number of leisure facilities across London.
It comes months after Highbury Leisure Centre, another Better facility, caught fire. The damage was so bad the remains of the pool building had to be knocked down. It had been refurbished months earlier at a cost of £2.5m.