• CarolineShah

A Hackney resident reveals what a new leisure centre is likely to mean for Kingston

Updated: Oct 11, 2021

A new leisure centre - Gambling with the future of Kingston and our Town
The cost of a new leisure centre is much higher than you might think

Read below what Pat Turnbull, a resident of Hackney, has to say about the new leisure centre that has replaced Hackney's previous Britannia Leisure Centre and decide for yourselves if this is right for Kingston

If you think Kingston Council should not demolish The Kingfisher Leisure Centre and instead repair its roof and reopen it as soon as possible, please sign the petition NOW

Ironically, given all the glossy brochures that have been bandied around about "a new leisure centre" in Kingston, even back in 2017, Pat Turnbull was quoted as saying:

We, the residents of Kingston and of London and beyond need to come together now and say we do not believe the stories that our own councils are telling us and we insist that they tell us the truth and that we are able to influence what happens in our communities and neighbourhoods and our wider Borough

That enough is enough

Why demolish The Kingfisher to justify and faciitate a massive and unnecessary residential and commercial development on the adjoining Cattle Market site in an area already hugely lacking in green space?

Why not simply repair The Kingfisher's roof?

This is what Pat has to say about the new Leisure Centre in Hackney:

"Britannia Leisure Centre in South Hackney, especially popular with children for its leisure pool, fully functioning, with a wide range of leisure and sports activities, could have been refurbished for a maximum of £17 million - Hackney Council figures. Instead, they have demolished it to make way for 388 luxury flats, in three towers 25, 20 and 10 storeys high. These will block daylight to neighbouring homes, and only worsen the cost of housing in an expensive borough where thousands of residents are in dire housing need.

To sweeten the public for this monstrous development, the council took out a huge chunk of the neighbouring Shoreditch Park, creating a dangerous precedent by building on open space, to build a new, very expensive leisure centre. They are coy about the exact cost, while denying reports in the local paper that it is over £300 million.

The original Britannia sat in pleasant green surroundings, with a car park, grass and sixty trees. All that greenery has gone to be replaced by a new secondary academy run by City of London Academy Trust, a school which the council's own planning application showed wasn't needed. Now other Hackney schools are threatened with closure as a result. Hackney Council say they paid £25 million towards the building cost. This large school building is already cutting out light to neighbouring homes.

The only 'affordable' housing among the 481 housing units planned for the Britannia Project (48 social rented, 32 shared ownership units) was to be in a 16 storey tower in the neighbouring primary school playground, along with the remainder of the 400 units for market sale. After strong objections from parents at the school, the DfE has refused permission for change of use of the playground. The provision of the few 'affordable' units is in limbo.

All this demolition and construction in a small area has caused huge problems and distress for local residents - noise, vibrations, dust, closure of pavements, traffic disruption. It has been going on for three years already and, with construction of the huge residential towers not yet started, is set to go on for three more years at least.

The first signs of this development appeared in council documents in 2013. Probably it was planned because the council speculated it could use some of its land to make a profit out of the investor market in residential development. Regardless of the ethics of such an approach, recouping the cost of all the building depends on sales of the housing units in doubtful market conditions.

And where does this leave the council finances?"

Pat Turnbull

Save Britannia Leisure Centre campaign - set up in 2016 to try to save the original Britannia (see our Facebook page for more)

If you think Kingston Council should not demolish The Kingfisher Leisure Centre and instead repair its roof and reopen it as soon as possible, please sign the petition NOW

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