Councillors on Hackney’s planning committee are to look at the early stages of proposals to re-open Haggerston Baths as a “destination hub combining
commercial offices, studios and workshop spaces, community and exhibition spaces”.
Residents expressed their concerns over a lack of community space in a public exhibition advertising the plans in April, with Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville expressing his sadness in 2017 that the pool itself could not be brough back into use.
Though Town Hall officers confirm that “no viable proposal” to reuse the building as a swimming baths ever came forward, the council is now pushing developers Castleforge Partners to make the new scheme as affordable and open to as many locals as possible.
A council pre-application report by planning officer Gareth Barnett reads: “Officers support any prospective redevelopment to have a proportion of assembly and leisure or similar uses to be used by the wider community, in both place-making terms and in recognition of the building’s civic importance/significance in the borough.
“No objection is…raised to the loss of the baths in principle, as the tendering process essentially provides marketing evidence that there are no credible suitors looking to invest in the continued use of the baths.
“Given the main material emphasis of this scheme is refurbishing and securing the long term future of the building, the provision of uses which provide the necessary revenue to secure such works are needed from an enabling capacity.
“It should be noted the proposed development re-provides assembly and leisure uses both in a flexible capacity in the main pool hall and in dedicated subsidiary rooms around its periphery.”
Barnett went on to highlight that Castleforge have confirmed that the building will contain affordable workspace, with part of the floorspace to be provided at peppercorn rent, though agreement does not appear to have yet been reached over what the level of affordability is in the area.
The Baths opened in 1904, was closed in 2000 for emergency repair work, and remained shut ever since, which the Town Hall says costs it £100,000 per year in maintenance and security expenses.
The council went to developers in 2015 with the offer of a 250-year lease to restore the building and bring it back into use, which was last year agreed by Castleforge.
The plans currently would see six floors and a lower ground level of office space to be built on the demolished and redeveloped west wing, with the pool itself to be refurbished into “office, community, leisure and cafe uses”, with a pledge that the main pool hall will be “publicly accessible”.