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Hodder: 'Clissold should be open'

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The architect behind the troubled Clissold Leisure Centre in London's Stoke Newington has claimed there is no reason why it should have been closed for the past two years.

Stephen Hodder of Hodder Associates visited the out-of-commission centre at the end of last month, vowing to find out for himself what had gone wrong on the site (AJ 24.6.04).

The Manchester-based practitioner, who carried out the investigation with the help of two other consultants and the former president of the Royal Institute of Civil Engineers, Mark Whitby, concluded that the problems on the site were 'really very limited'.

'What we found was that there is very little wrong with the building structurally and we are more convinced than ever that it would take very little to get it back and open again. Perhaps it would cost something in the region of £500,000, ' he told the AJ.

But the council this week responded by launching further legal action against Hodder Associates, claiming that there are major structural faults.

Hodder has admitted that there are problems but says he is convinced they are insignificant: 'Throughout the building we concede that there are problems, including such things as consistent leaks in the shower area. But the fact is that most of the damage seems to have been done by the two years of closure.

'There are also cracks in the walls of the squash courts, but there are no real reasons why these could not be closed off to the public and the rest of the centre remain open while they are fixed.

'On the one hand, I came away from our visit feeling better but I was also sad because of the way the building was handled. There is a very important question about the way this situation was dealt with, ' he added.

Hodder said that he and his consultants would be working on a full report outlining an alternative assessment of the problems on the project during the next two months.

But Hackney council has stated that it is convinced that at least some of the liability for the problems on the site should fall on Hodder.

'Legal proceedings against Hodder Associates in respect of the defects to Clissold Leisure Centre are now under way, ' an official council statement said. 'Hodder has been invited to inspect the premises and we await its response.'

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