HAGGERSTON BATHS has been allowed to fall into decay over 15 years. Yet concern for it has been cited by a public body after a request was made to build an arty-yet-serious project on top of a neighbouring building.
Which is the authority that has rushed to the defence of the grand old lady of Whiston Road E2 8BN?
Why, Hackney council, the very outfit that closed the pool in 2000, letting it fall so badly into ruin that the town hall decided to rid itself of the Edwardian complex by offering it for sale.
Hackney’s view is that the project, now erected, has “an unacceptable impact upon the setting of the Grade II listed Haggerston Baths and Haggerston Bridge”
The developer who created the installation has alleged council hypocrisy.
Ravi Patel, development and operations manager for landlord Russell Gray, of Shiva Ltd, says that what he calls “London’s only recycled beach house”, in Laburnum Street, overlooking the Regent’s Canal, is “the first of a series of art-meets-architecture experimental houses” planned for the flat roofs of the art-studio complex at 55 Laburnum Street E2 8BD.
The house is made of used Tetra Pak drinks cartons reshaped into corrugated sheets, a beautiful material rich in colours and strange markings of early usage. It will be a temporary structure. Patel told Loving Dalston it had potential as fast-build, low-cost housing for refugees and natural-disaster relief.
Caroline Rolf, of commissioning charity Art House Foundation, had invited what Patel terms some of “Britain’s foremost sculptors” to produce a series of rooftop structures from recycled materials and this is one of them.
Patel adds: “Our company [Shiva] has a long and outstanding record of conservation and restoration.” It had been a bidder in the contest to take over the baths.
“In contrast,” says Patel, “the council’s is a disgrace. The most immediate example is its neglect of Haggerston Baths, resulting in irretrievable damage and decay.
“To claim that our almost-invisible beach house spoils views of local heritage is bizarre.”
Shiva is appealing against Hackney council’s demand that the beach house be pulled down.
Hackney council told Loving Dalston that planning permission was sought for a single-floor, two- bedroom unit of self-contained residential accommodation at roof level. It was to stand for a maximum two years.
In November 2015 the council refused the application and in February 2016 it served an enforcement notice for the structure’s removal.
Shiva appealed to the Planning Inspectorate. The Bristol-based quango has not issued a verdict.
Shiva says that it and the site’s artists “are committed to fighting the council through the planning appeal process and the courts”.
What a pity they did not get planning permission in advance.
David Altheer 030816
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