Residents slam proposal to ‘redevelop’ Shoreditch leisure facility

Britannia Leisure Centre gym

Britannia Leisure Centre gym - Credit: Archant

Council plans to redevelop a popular leisure centre into housing and an alternative facility have been slammed by residents who fear the quality of current services will be compromised.

Britannia Leisure Centre, in Hyde Road, Shoreditch, boasts a wide range of facilities, including a gym, swimming pool and football pitch.

It recently hosted members of the American soccer team LA Galaxy, famous for signing England football captains David Beckham and Steven Gerrard.

But now the council has said that the current building is not “cost effective.”

A site allocation plan from December 2013 identified potential to redevelop the site with “intensification and the introduction of residential use” and “reprovided and improved leisure facilities” including additional parking.

The proposal was discussed at a hearing last month but a decision has not yet been made.

Residents fear building expensive houses on the site will take priority. Pat Turnbull, 67, of Handley Road, said: “Friends of mine have held toddlers’ parties there. Others have enjoyed its peaceful surroundings when they were sent there for sports therapy as part of the GP referral scheme.

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“Really they are proposing to demolish a lovely leisure centre. It won’t be meeting the needs of Hackney and we will lose a communal leisure centre to be replaced by housing – how much of that will be affordable? It is certainly not in the spirit of the Olympic legacy for Hackney, a host borough, to do away with such a centre – not to mention the jobs that will be lost; most of the people working there live locally.”

Cllr Jonathan McShane, cabinet member for health, social care and culture, said: “We know how important the centre is to the local community and assure them that we will be keeping a leisure centre in this location.”

He said the council was assessing the feasibility of building a better centre with improved facilities. He added: “At the moment, the existing building needs significant work simply to maintain it in its current condition and is not cost-effective to operate.

“We have considered refurbishment and, whilst this could be done it would be very expensive and would only extend the life of the building in the medium-term.”

“We will of course be consulting residents and users on any plans.”