Shock news – council’s plan for Haggerston falls through

We have been informed by Hackney Council that there is no place for a swimming pool in any of the three schemes to redevelop Haggerston Baths which are on the shortlist selected from bids put to the Council in 2015.

We are bitterly disappointed that this is the case, and we know that this will be deeply unpopular with residents and supporters, more than 150 of whom attended a meeting on 8th October 2015, and 384 of whom responded to a questionnaire on the future of the building.  Of the 384, over 90% wanted a swimming pool on the site.

We understand that protracted negotiations with a bidder who did have plans to keep the original pool broke down.  However, we would wish to draw attention to a 16 year history of failure on the part of the Council to prioritise the reopening of the pool, and to work with the community to do so, particularly when capacity and funds were available to progress the project through the community route.  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.

We hope that the Council will take all possible steps to inform the community face-to-face as to the history behind all of this, and how and why we have reached the sorry position we now find ourselves in, particularly in the light of the potential threats to other pools in the Borough.

Response from Hackney Mayor

Subject: Haggerston Baths consultation process

 

Dear Mr Coysh
 
Thank you for your email regarding the above matter, which was received on 11 January 2016.
 
As I know you are well aware, this is a sensitive matter given the strength of feeling expressed by those who wish to see the Baths restored to their former use, and of course the necessity that the site must be put to a self-sustaining use, and the Council’s view that the expenditure of public funds of the size required by this project on pursuing the reinstatement of a public swimming pool is not possible.
 
Council officers are currently assessing the formal proposals, and whilst I would not like to second guess the results of those deliberations, I understand there is a strong possibility that from the ten submissions a shortlist of candidates will emerge. Until the extent of that shortlist is known it is difficult to say exactly how any future consultation may look, although I am advised that if it is reasonably practical then some form of public exhibition with an opportunity to comment can proceed, subject to the agreement of the bidders concerned.  One would hope that bidders would be keen to project their ideas to an interested community.
 
I also agree that some form of explanation as to the legal and financial constraints that the Council is under may help people understand that its decision-making sits within a legal framework and that the Council is not entirely free to do as it pleases.  That said, we are hopeful that evaluation and selection can be relatively straight forward in terms of due process, and the principles of evaluation remain the same: as has been the case since the Council began discussing this process with you, each scheme must be evaluated on its merits, starting with deliverability of a self-sustaining use, or set of uses. Officers have not forgotten the desire for a scheme to include a pool.
 
By way of update, I am told the 10 bids include varied proposals, and some fundamental clarifications must be obtained before officers can be confident in the relative deliverability, sustainability of proposed uses, and financial benefits associated with each one.  I know that officers are keen to report back as soon as they practically can, and they will want to do this once equipped with all the available facts, so that interested parties can readily appreciate what is on offer.
 
I hope that this response is helpful. If you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact Chris Pritchard, Assistant Director of Strategic Property Services, by email: chris.pritchard@hackney.gov.uk. 
 
Yours sincerely
 
Jules Pipe
Mayor of Hackney

Letter to Mayor Jules Pipe to ask for public to meet bidders

Dear Jules

I am sure you are aware of the very well attended public meeting and consultation process regarding the future of Haggerston Pool.  We have had very positive meetings with David Mitchell and Chris Pritchard throughout the process, and we are aware that there are 10 shortlisted bidders, and that 3 include a swimming pool, 2 in the original pool hall.

I am sure you know that the overwhelming view of members of the public was that a public swimming pool should be incorporated into the future plans for the building, and you will not be surprised that we strongly concur with that!

It was suggested at the meeting by a member of the public at the meeting that a referendum could be held to determine the successful bidder, and whilst we fully understand that this would not be feasible from the legal point of view, we hope that at some point in the process more detailed outlines of the bids could be publicly exhibited, and the views of the public sought.  Perhaps at this point the legal and financial constraints within which the council are operating could also be presented in summary form.  If the 10 bids are to be further narrowed down, then the final contenders could then be asked to put something together for public perusal, and perhaps even present their plans to a public meeting.

If the community feel that they have had involvement in the process, I am sure this will help to ensure public support when the planning process goes ahead.

Yours sincerely

Mike Coysh

Chair
Haggerston Pool Campaign

TEN bids for Haggerston Baths, THREE include swimming pool

Hackney Council have let us know that they have received 10 formal, costed bids for Haggerston Pool. They say they have 3 proposals including a swimming pool; 2 in the pool hall, and 1 a swimming pool elsewhere in the building.   And that the bids are a mix of some purely residential and some with a mix of uses including employment, bar, restaurant, gallery and general community use.The council are shortlisting the bids based on

      • their regard to the heritage of the building
      • how much they meet planning rules
      • the finances of the plan
      • how they match the community consultation

The shortlist should be completed by mid January. We asked if they would then arrange for local people to meet the shortlisted bidders and give feedback and suggestions, as this was raised at the public meeting.   The response was not clear, so we are writing to the Mayor to request this.

Council officers also told us  that there is an update to the Local Government Act 1972 stating that councils cannot decide to accept a bid that is more that £2 million less than the highest offer without referring the process to the government.  This did not come up at the public meeting, and could obviously have an impact on the Council accepting a bid which offers a lot to the community but a relatively low price to the Council for the lease.

Questionnaire shows support for swimming pool

The full results of the recent questionnaire have been collated.  The questionnaire was set up jointly by the London Borough of Hackney and Save Haggerston Pool campaign to gauge public opinion on the future of Haggerston Baths .  The information is intended to be used by both bidders and Council decision makers, and has been sent to the 29 bidders by the council.

384 responses to the questionnaire were received and are included in this report.

The questionnaire shows great local support for a swimming pool as is shown in the responses to the first question.

 

Chart_Q1

Responses to later questions also showed a desire for the building to be publicly accessible, and support for community space in the restored building, as well as arts, cultural and educational uses.

People took time to write in the free form text sections of the questionnaire,  giving additional ideas and suggestions for the future of Haggerston Baths and reflections on the degree of change in the area, and the needs of the local community

Report on Haggerston Baths Questionnaire November 2015

Standing Room only at the Public Meeting

pool meeting audienceThere was standing room only at the Haggerston Baths public meeting on Thursday 8th October at the VLC Centre.

More than 150 people in all attended, and the meeting was ably chaired by Mike Coysh, Chair of Save Haggerston Pool.

The council,  represented by Chris Pritchard, Assitant Director of Property Services, and Councillor Jonathan McShane, Cabinet member for Health, Social Care and Culture, told the meeting that they are at a very early stage of selecting a bidder to take over Haggerston Pool, describing this stage as a “fishing expedition”.

Many in the audience made a vocal and passionate case for the swimming pool to be restored in the building, those speaking including representatives from the Victorian Society, Laburnum Boat Club, the Bridge Academy and youth group YOH.   Members of the audience also questioned why the pool building could not be listed as an Asset of Community Value.

There was also a proposal that when the council have a short list of bidders, they bring the bidders to an open public meeting for local people to vote on their choice.  Council representatives did not agree to anything in the meeting, but said they were pleased to have the discussion, and were open to new forms of democracy.

Questionnaires were circulated at the meeting.  The  results of the questionnaires, and notes from the meeting will be circulated to all the bidders, and council decision makers, as well as being published here.

For anyone who missed the meeting it is still possible to have you say before 30th October 2015 by filling in the onlline questionnaire here https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/686B6NL

 

Public Meeting – What is the future of Haggerston Pool

PUBLIC MEETING THURSDAY 8th OCTOBER 7pm at VLC Centre

The VLC Centre is next door to HAGGERSTON POOL, Whiston Road, E2 8BN

Background and list of Bids
The council advertised Haggerston Pool for development in June, and has received 29 expressions of interest.  The building is essentially being sold, since the lease offered is for 250 years.

You can read a summary of the Expressions of Interest below – they range from flats, hotel to museum, art gallery – and a few have a swimming pool.


Purpose of the Meeting

We have arranged a public meeting with the council, where local residents can ask about the process, and let the council know the kind of development we would like to see in the building, and about the importance of the building as a local landmark, and part of Hackney’s heritage.


Chair and Speakers:
Chair: Mike Coysh, chair of the Haggerston Pool Campaign
Speakers
Chris Pritchard, Assistant Director of Propoerty Services, Hackney Council
Jonathan McShane, Hackney Council Cabinet member for Health and Community Services
Haggerston Pool Campaign speakers


Details of Meeting
The meeting is at the VLC Centre, next door to Haggerston Pool on Thursday 8th October.  The meeting will start at 7pm, but the centre will be open from 6pm and there will be additional information, tea/coffee and chance to discuss informally, as well as additional information about the pool and the bids, including the Assessment of the Historic Sensitivity of the building below, produced by the council.

If you are able to help publicise the meeting on facebook or twitter, our contacts are on the Participate page, and below is a poster to download

Any quesitons or more info needed about the meeting please contact Liz Hughes londonpools@gmail.com or 0777 300 2646 or David Mitchell david.mitchell@hackney.gov.uk

 

Downloads:
Assessment of Significance.pdf
Haggerston Baths – Summary of Proposals.pdf
What is the future of Haggerston Pool poster.pdf

Questions to Hackney Mayor Candidates

In January 2013 the campaign to re-open Haggerston Pool was boosted when 500 people visited a stall in Broadway market and signed up to join the campaign.   Following a public meeting with the council, many local people offered their skills and support, but making the necessary agreements has proved very slow.

Save Haggerston Pool campaign then set out to have the pool listed as an Asset of Community Value, which would increase our influence over how the building is used, and enable us to raise some funds for a feasibility plan.  We received overwhelming support on our petition, which you can still sign, to support the application

With the election coming up, we asked each of the Hackney Mayor candidates if they would support the pool becoming an Asset of Community Value and if they would help us renew the business plan.

Here are their replies…

 

1. Will you support Save Haggerston Pool’s work to register Haggerston Pool as an Asset of Community Value?

Mischa Borris (Green Party)

I visited the Pool when I stood as the Green Party Mayoral candidate in 2010 and
saw what a sad state it was in then.  At that time, if I am remember correctly, there seemed some cause for optimism that the  pool would be refurbished and it is shocking that there has been no progress.  So I do support the campaign to register the Pool as an ACV.  Whilst that is not a solution in itself, it would help to give the Pool some protection and hopefully strengthen applications for funding.

Jules Pipe (Labour Party)

The short answer is yes, absolutely, we are already.

As members of the Trust should be aware, I arranged for the Cabinet Member for Health and Community Services and senior officers from the Council to meet with Andrea Cooper from the Trust to discuss the process for registering the building as an asset of community value. It is important to note that the process for registering an asset is one prescribed by the Government and it is important that any application is properly prepared and submitted to the Council. However, under this administration Hackney Council has been a pioneer in testing this legislation, notably the recent success regarding protecting The Chesham Arms public house. At the meeting with Andrea, officers agreed to support the Trust in making an application that can be considered by officers for registering. Feedback on the draft application is being given to enable it to be submitted for formal determination.

That said, registering an Asset of Community Value is used to create a short period in which a public group could purchase an asset that is put up for sale. The problem with Haggerston Pool is not that it is about to be put up for sale, which it is not, rather that any owner is faced with finding in excess of £25million to invest in refurbishment, redevelopment of the west wing, and restoration of the pool and hall.

Linda Kelly (Conservative Party)

If in this current climate, finance will not be forthcoming from the Council coffers, we have the expertise of our officers, connections in the community, with funding organisations and  businesses to work together with the Community, in Haggerston and beyond, to develop a business plan.  I will promise you this, if I am working so hard my constituents to save the School Room, I will support you.

Mustafa Korel (Putting Hackney First)

Yes. I would however go even further and become a friend of Save Haggerston Pool , like the way the incumbent is a member of CAMRA.

Throughout my campaign I have said that I will create and order a comprehensive list of community assets – Haggerston Pool would be one of those assets, given the support from the community.

Simon de Deney (Liberal Democrats)

I will certainly support your work to register Haggerston Pool as an Asset of Community Value. I’ve just signed the online petition on change.org. I have swum all my life; I currently swim regularly at London Fields Lido. I also belong to the Outdoor Swimming Society.

 

Question 2: What support will you give Save Haggerston Pool to develop a renewed business plan?

Mischa Borris (Green Party)

 I cannot be specific at this time on what support I could give the Pool to develop a renewed business plan, but if I am elected would certainly welcome a meeting after the election to explore this.  I am keen on exploring possible European Union funding for projects in Hackney so that could be worth investigating.

Jules Pipe (Labour Party)

Firstly it should be noted that the Council has been committed to giving every chance for a viable proposal to be brought forward over the past decade – including proposals for being part of Bridge Academy; plans by Shoreditch Trust; and more recently the proposal for a Healthy Living Centre. The Council has also had to invest significant sums into ensuring a sufficient degree of security, wind and weather tightness to prevent deterioration of the building. This should be viewed in the context of diminishing public resources which would have prompted many authorities to dispose of the site for redevelopment many years ago.

As the Trust is aware, any restoration/redevelopment of the site that retains a pool would cost in excess of £25million. The Council’s most senior finance and property officers are already engaged in the issue and with the Trust, and would be willing to support any viable proposal including the development of the business plan. However, any such proposal must first address the feasibility of any proposal securing and servicing the £25million capital requirement of such a project.

 

Linda Kelly (Conservative Party)

You may know I worked with residents to try and save the Tram Depot in my Ward Leabridge from developers, represented them in the planning committee we were not successful, but needed to make a stand.

I am Chair of the Clapton Arts Trust and we are in the process of trying to save the School Room on the Leabridge Road, we were unsuccessful in our first Heritage Lottery Bid, by a whisper, however, we are intending to put a new bid in and, are trying to hold off the developer from turning it into offices.

So I understand what you are all going through, I know one thing if I have the honour of serving the residents of Hackney, the preservation of Heritage is one of my main priorities. I have seen too many of our Heritage building destroyed in my Ward and in Hackney, I will ensure as far as possible all our Heritage buildings are locally listed.

To your first question looking at this beautiful building I promise I will do whatever I can to have it registered as Asset of Community Value, I am sure we will find people to work with us, as it is our legacy for generations to come, I will not be afraid of lobbying and using my office ​to save this building.

Mustafa Korel (Putting Hackney First)

Under my Mayorship,  the Council will see a culture change from outdated corporate values to that of social objectives. I have made a clear promise in my Mayor’s Priority 2: Long term solutions that I will work alongside campaigners looking for solutions and instilling a can -
do attitude to what could be of real value in breathing life back in to Haggerston.

Save Haggerton Pool will lead on the renewed business plan, along with the new Grants and Income Diversification Officer Hackney will recruit – we will look at creative ways in funding this
project. One that springs to mind is the Sustainable Communities Act and which the Council recently used for a separate project.

Should you become a constituted body, we will set up a contract/service level agreement so that you can apply for further funding and sponsorship for building works, and formally taking the lease of the building.

I also have an affinity with Haggerston Baths. This is where I went swimming when I was at Princess May Primary school. It is unacceptable that a building that has been listed as one of the most endangered buildings in the country.

There is seemingly no political will to get the baths back in to use and this briefing answers your questions and demonstrates my commitment to re-opening the pool within my term.

Simon de Deney (Liberal Democrats)

Whatever the outcome of elections, we will offer you every support that we can, not just in terms of developing a renewed business plan. From what we understand of all the work you’ve done so far, it seems that you are well organised and clear-sighted in this campaign.
One thing that is probably worth mentioning is that we are promoting the introduction of local community councils in Hackney. These give local communities considerable powers, not just in terms of things like protecting Assets of Community Value, but  across the whole range of areas.