THE BATTLE to save the swimming pool in the Haggerston Baths buildings has been lost. The hall that accommodates the 15m pool will never again echo to the splashes of leisure swimmers and the squeals of excited children.
The struggle now is to save the the west end of the grand Edwardian buildings from the erection of six above-ground floors rather than the four that locals were led to expect.
It would be easy to argue that even four floors would destroy the look of the Whiston Road E2 5BN facade designed for the people of Haggerston by architect Alfred Cross (1858-1932).
Haggerston Baths Ltd (HBL), a company created by private-equity firm Castleforge Partners, is, however, insisting the council let it add the two floors because otherwise “the appraisal would be damaged” and HBL could not “move forward with the project”.
The council has already spent millions on saving the baths from complete dereliction over two decades and thought it had passed on the problem of what to do with the collection of crumbling buildings.
He lives in Swimmers Lane, by the baths. On Twitter he urged everyone worried about the “six-storey office block” to fill in and put their views over in the survey. Crowley told Loving Dalston: “We are concerned about the potentially destructive effect of a huge commercial development in the middle of a residential neighbourhood.
“People find it galling because the building is something that has always belonged to and been used by the community.”
The protest movement that had sprung up was very much an “on the ground” thing, as residents in the immediate area talked to one another, especially since the start of Covid-19 lockdown on Thursday 23 March 2020.
His partner, Jason Smith, said that two extra stories would make the proposed office block “tower over the baths and nearby residents”.
Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville tweeted to @LovingDalston and others: “I’m sure you’re aware of the full multi-year, open and transparent process that led to [the] decision and involved residents: https://hackney.gov.uk/haggerston-baths.
“There was eventually sadly no viable way of funding the reopening of the baths (roughly £20/25m-plus) either directly or through partnership.”
Castleforge told Loving Dalston: “We are committed to ensure the proposals make a positive contribution to the local community.”
David Altheer 050520
* Backstory: Sell Haggerston heritage says Hackney; Hackney washes its hands of heritage site; Lido panic claim by Hackney council; Hackney pulls plug on Haggy Baths hopes; Hiring a lido contractor is not going swimmingly; Hackney flooded with enquiries; Hackney council drowning at deep end; Haggy to be a pub?
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