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Clissold dispute nears resolution

The furore surrounding the long-term closure of Hodder Associates' highly contentious Clissold Leisure Centre is finally set to come to an end this week.

The AJ understands that the last bout of mediation over the faults that led to the £30 million swimming pool being forced to shut down took place yesterday (18 May).

While the details of the agreement remained unclear as the AJ went to press, it was also understood that the deal would in large part exonerate Stephen Hodder and his practice.

The successful mediation will finally bring to an end the dispute over the building, in Hackney, east London, which has blighted the area for nearly seven years.

If the fiasco is resolved with a deal weighted towards Hodder, it will also be seen as a personal triumph for past RIBA president Paul Hyett, who has been working as an expert adviser for the Manchester-based Stirling Prize winner.

The mediation comes after a leaked report into defects at the beleaguered centre showed that neither Hodder Associates nor engineer Whitbybird was to blame for flooding of the building's basement (AJ 7.4.05).

Instead, the top-secret document, drawn up by Arup, pointed the finger at centre operator Leisure Connections as responsible for the problem, which caused the pool to close in November 2003.

According to the report, errors made 'in plant operation or failure by the operator to monitor conditions in the basement plantroom' were to blame for the flood.

A source close to the practice said Hodder was extremely pleased to be closing in on an agreement that would go easy on the firm.

'He is relieved that the deal is nearly done, and that there will imminently be an agreement between Gleeson, Whitbybird and himself, ' the source said.

'Stephen is delighted that the problems - which have been ongoing for nearly seven years - are now nearly over. And he is also surprised at how paradoxically helpful Hackney council is now being, ' he added.

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