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Leisure centre ‘sloppy’ after £2.5m makeover

Where’s the building we expected? ask neighbours when hoardings come down

02 February, 2018 — By Emily Finch

Objector Kate Pothalingham outside the centre

A ROW has erupted over a leisure centre refurbishment which objectors say does not match plans they took years to agree.

The £2.5million make­over of the council-owned Highbury Leisure Centre was meant to see it resemble a cricket pavilion, but residents living nearby have branded the current building like something you would see in a “monolithic supermarket car park”.

Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), also known as Better, which manages Islington’s leisure centres, accepts there are “some outstanding issues” with its refurbishment of the leisure centre.

The council said last night (Thursday) that GLL would soon submit an application to “amend the existing planning consent”.

Kate Pothalingham, who is on the committee of Highbury Fields Association, said: “Residents don’t like the building at all and have been writing to the council.

“The roof wasn’t meant to be so steeply sloped and the balcony was meant to have more space. We’ve had hoardings up here until just before Christmas so it was hard for anyone to see what was going on. When they came down it looked sloppy.”

Ms Pothalingham, who lives near the Highbury Crescent centre, said other issues with the building include the vents, which she said were meant to be on the other side of the roof, and the guttering, which she maintains is not lined up correctly. She also said windows were not centred and of the wrong colour.

“We want a dialogue with the planners to see if any remedial steps can be done,” she said. “But for me it’s the principle. What’s the point of getting approval from the council if there are no consequences for not following plans?”

A GLL spokesman said: “We are pleased to say that the main building and its interior are now complete and ready for public use. While there is no enforcement notice in place, we can confirm that we are in discussions with the relevant contractors and the council planning department to resolve outstanding issues relating to the exterior of the building.”

An Islington Council spokesman said: “GLL has worked on potential solutions, and has agreed to meet residents again before submitting an application to amend the existing planning consent. GLL has agreed to bear all costs related to this work.

“As with any planning application, residents will be able to give their views before any decision is made.”

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