A LONDON BREWER wants to turn Haggerston Baths into a brewery pub. Hardly had Hackney council offered the 1903 listed building on a 250-year lease than the company asked about taking over the listed building at Whiston Road E2 8BA.
The City property division of huge French bank BNP Paribas, hired by the council to take the baths off its hands, sees the Edwardian complex as convertible to flats and shops – the usual so-called regeneration formula – but the pub proposal might be easier to sell to the public.
The Victorian Society, which last month May 2015 told Loving Dalston of its support for the council sell-off shortly after it was announced, is now taking a stronger stance, saying it “would ideally like to see Haggerston Baths reopened as a swimming pool”.
If nobody did, it “would like to see a use which ensures public access and avoids subdivision of internal spaces”.
Liz Hughes, of Haggerston Pool Community Trust, tells Loving Dalston: “We call on the council to prioritise the refurbishment of the building as a swimming pool alongside community facilities.”
Council officers involved had told the trust that the pool was “not for sale”, and that they wanted ideas for rescuing the building.
She adds: “We therefore call on the council to set up a public meeting so that it can explain what is happening and listen to local people’s views and ideas.”
Hackney Liberal Democrats consider the baths “a building important to the whole of Hackney”. They say: “We certainly support re-opening, but this requires funds.
“At the 2014 mayoral hustings Mayor Jules Pipe committed the council to work with the trust to develop a business plan. But nothing seems to have been done.”
Hackney should now work with the trust and other community groups to develop a planning brief that would at least preserve the fabric of the building for future generations.
One way for the trust to highlight the baths’ plight is to ask the public to nominate the baths for the Top Ten Most Endangered Buildings update the Victorian Society is compiling. The pool made the list in 2013 but not last year.
David Altheer 010615
* Backstory: Hackney washes its hands of heritage site, much of which appeared in the local newspaper many days later.
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