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FCBS and FaulknerBrowns win approval for major Hackney leisure centre scheme

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Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBS) and FaulknerBrowns’ designs for Hackney Council’s new £384 million leisure centre, homes and school development have won planning approval

Outline plans to demolish and replace Britannia Leisure Centre, next to Shoreditch Park, and build eight new buildings including residential blocks of up to 24 storeys, were given the go-ahead by councillors last Thursday (7 November). 

FCBS’s masterplan includes 481 new homes, the majority of which will be for private sale to fund delivery of the leisure centre, as well as a 1,140-place school and sixth form for City Academy. 

The leisure centre, designed by FaulknerBrowns, includes a six-lane swimming pool, a six-court sports hall, four squash courts, a gym and a café, which will be accessible from Shoreditch Park.

The leisure uses are designed in horizontal ‘layers’ and include rooftop football pitches and tennis courts, while ‘cellular’ changing rooms are positioned at the core of the building.

The plan to develop the Britannia Leisure Centre has faced criticism, with objectors raising concerns over the principle of building on designated open land, the financial viability of the scheme and its low levels of affordable housing (19 per cent). 

The development received 147 objections, including from the developer behind Hoxton Press, the high rise housing scheme designed by Chipperfield and Karakusevic Carson Architects, being built on the neighbouring Colville Estate.

Anthology, which has worked closely with the town hall on the regeneration of the Hoxton estate, claimed the Britannia project was ‘unviable’ and accused planners of ‘overdeveloping’ the site to compensate.

In addition, campaigners from Save Britannia Leisure Centre group reject the council’s argument that the building is ‘approaching the end of its life’, and argue the residential towers are ‘out of proportion with the surrounding buildings’. 

The Hackney Society also raised concerns that the height of the proposed buildings could create a new ‘City Road cluster’ of tall buildings. 

‘We have concerns that built alongside the Hoxton Press development, the effect of the proposed 18-20 storey towers will create an emerging cluster of tall buildings which will be used to justify equivalent height and mass nearby,’ it said.

But council planners argued that, while the scale of the buildings was significant, the public benefits of the development’s new social infrastructure would ‘outweigh this harm’.

Hackney mayor Philip Glanville said: ‘Hackney needs improved leisure provision, hundreds of more school places and thousands of new homes.

‘Our proposals help deliver on all of these. I’m very proud that, despite ongoing government cuts to our funding, our council is finding innovative ways to keep investing in our communities.’

FaulknerBrowns partner Steve McIntyre said: ‘This represents a huge step forward in the delivery of the new leisure centre in Shoreditch.

‘This, along with a new school, residential accommodation and fantastic new public realm, demonstrates the commitment the council has in delivering high-quality architecture and spaces for the residents of Hackney.’

The application will now go before City Hall planners for final approval. In its initial response, the GLA said that, while the 19 per cent affordable housing offer was ‘unacceptable’, it acknowledged that the residential element was an ‘enabling development’ for the wider scheme.

’The applicant’s financial viability assessment will, therefore, be robustly interrogated by GLA officers.’ it said.

Hackney Council said it was aiming for work to start on site in early 2019 with completion due for 2021. 

Project data

Client Hackney Council
Architects FCBS (masterplanners, residential, school) FaulknerBrowns (leisure)
Cost Consultant (School, Infrastructure/Public Realm) & Financial Modelling Arcadis 
Mechanical & Electrical (M&E) Engineer Buro Happold 
Accessibility Consultant Buro Happold 
Fire Engineer Buro Happold
Structural & Civil Engineer Buro Happold
Cost Consultant (Residential & Leisure) Core Five 
Acoustic Engineer Max Fordham LLP
Planning Consultant Tibbalds Planning Consult
Façade Consultant Wintech
Transport Engineer WSP 
Viability Assessor Savills 
Development Advisor JLL 

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