The redevelopment of the 113-year-old Haggerston Baths in Shoreditch has been approved by Hackney Council, despite widespread dismay at the removal of its iconic swimming pool.
Developers Castleforge have announced plans to turn the site into community and commercial office spaces. Despite pleas from residents, the swimming pool will be turned into a café and restaurant area.
Hackney’s cabinet voted in favour of Castleforge on Monday. The private equity firm beat real estate firm London and Regional Properties to secure the lease following a public consultation and a bidding process.
Castleforge will be granted a lease of 250 years. It will bear the cost of the development work while paying rent to the council annually.
The report reads: “Whilst the business space will be private in nature, the new uses for the pool hall will ensure that Hackney residents will once again have access to the most impressive space at the Baths, with the potential that the new facility will become an important community hub in its own right.”
Haggerston Baths opened in 1904, serving as a pool, laundry baths, gym and dancehall for the people of Hackney. It closed in 2001 and has not been used since.
The building is one of the most endangered Victorian and Edwardian buildings in England and Wales, according to the Victorian Society. It cost Hackney council on average £108,000 yearly for the last three years to maintain the structure.
This project aimed to identify a long-term and self-sustaining future for the building and preserve public access to this unique and much loved Hackney asset.
Since the council couldn’t afford the £20 million cost of restoration, it called for bids to grant an extended leasehold to redevelop Haggerston Baths while maintaining the ownership.
A public consultation was conducted from March to May this year, where 54 percent out of 312 participants supported the Castleforge Partners’ proposal. Only a third of participants supported the proposed project by London and Regional Properties.
London and Regional Properties proposed to redevelop the building to become a shared workspace, a “micro-hotel”, and a place for social and cultural activities.
During the bidding process, Hackney council failed to get reassurance from both Castleforge and London and Regional Properties to keep the swimming pool as part of the redevelopment project, despite spending one year on negotiations.