The future of Haggerston Baths finally looks set to be resolved after years of wrangling over how best to regenerate the derelict building.
A development proposal by Castleforge Partners is to be recommended for the Cabinet’s approval on Monday – but it does not include a swimming pool.
If council bosses give the go-ahead, the Grade II-listed swimming baths, built in 1904, will be transformed into a “unique destination hub” consisting of office space, shops and restaurants, as well as community and exhibition spaces.
Campaigners had called for any successful bid to include a swimming pool, but council papers published ahead of Monday’s meeting stated any such proposals had “floundered largely due to the lack of funding”.
Speaking in December last year about the lack of viable bids comprising a new swimming pool, Save Haggerston Pool campaigner Mike Coysh said: “We are bitterly disappointed that this is the case, and we know that this will be deeply unpopular with residents and supporters.
“This will represent a community asset lost forever at a time when the local population is on the increase, the NHS is under increasing threat, and other pools in the south of the borough are threatened.”
The council says maintaining the baths has been costing it upwards of £100,000 a year, and so a decision was made to find a private bidder who could “breathe new life into the building”.
A number of candidates were then whittled down to a final two.
A rival bid from London and Regional had proposed to create “an innovative new business hub with a social focus” along with “micro-hotel”, but the council’s planning officer has instead opted to recommend the Castleforge project.
Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville, commenting on the baths last year, said: “The aim of this project was to identify a long-term and self-sustaining future for the building.
“Although we recognised the scale of the likely investment required to achieve this, we encouraged bidders to devise schemes that could also preserve some public access to this unique and much loved Hackney asset.”
The council’s recent report notes that both London Fields Lido and the Britannia Leisure Centre will be able to cater for swimming demand in the south of the borough.