Britannia Leisure Centre project: Affordable home building delayed a year by Crossrail 2 plans

A digital impression of the 16-storey tower block on the corner of Bridport Place. Photo by Hackney

A digital impression of the 16-storey tower block on the corner of Bridport Place. Photo by Hackney Council. - Credit: Archant

Crossrail 2 has thrown a spanner in the works of the council’s home-building as part of the £384million Britannia Leisure Centre redevelopment project.

The first phase of the scheme has been delayed for a year after some back and forth about new proposals for tunnels for the high-speed rail line under Shoreditch Park.

In December Crossrail 2 chiefs presented Hackney Council with new proposals for the tunnels, which would have meant the 93 affordable homes could not be built.

But after discussions a new path for the tunnels has been agreed, and the housing will now be built without the need for a permanent vent shaft, which was set to be installed under original plans.

The hold-up does mean the 93 homes – 81 of which will be for council housing or shared ownership – will not be ready until the summer of 2022, 12 months after the initial completion date. The delay does not affect the building of the new leisure centre or school.

Mayor Phil Glanville said: “It’s disappointing these council-built genuinely affordable homes won’t be ready as soon as we had planned, but I have been lobbying hard to defend Shoreditch Park from being impacted by Crossrail 2 construction and to minimise the disruption to local residents.

“Delaying these badly needed homes wasn’t an easy decision, but the disruption which would now be caused to Shoreditch Park Primary School if we pushed ahead to try to meet the original timeline would be unacceptable for pupils and teachers.

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“The remainder of the project is not affected and the bigger picture is that the much-needed new school and leisure centre - a facility fit for the 21st century and the diverse needs of Hackney’s communities - are still set to open in 2021 as planned.”

Under the original timeline the most disruptive works were due to take place on the Shoreditch Park Primary School playground during this year’s summer holidays.

Now, they would have to start during the autumn term, causing significant disruption. Work will begin in Gospall Street this summer to prepare underground services to the new homes by digging a trench to lay pipework. It will affect the school site, but the work is hoped to be done during the school holiday.

The flagship project was signed off last year after being 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.

TfL, which along with Network Rail is behind Crossrail 2, has been approached for comment.

Michèle Dix, TfL’s managing director of Crossrail 2, said: “We have been working closely with Hackney Council on a solution that has enabled the Britannia development to proceed whilst minimising the potential impacts on the park. We will continue to work with Hackney on the development of both projects for the benefit of local people.”