CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Highbury pool’s new look is revealed

Leisure centre revamp after fire caused severe damage in 2018

26 February, 2021 — By Helen Chapman

A SWIMMING pool hit by a fire two years ago is now ready to reopen after a major refurbishment.

The Highbury Leisure Centre, which is council-owned but managed by Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL), will become fully functional as soon as Covid restrictions are eased.

It had a £2.5million makeover just six months before the blaze in 2018 caused severe damage.

The new-look centre has a 25-metre main pool, a smaller teaching pool, a viewing gallery and new changing facilities.

Kate Pothalingham, of Highbury Lib Dems, said: “The changing rooms used to be awful, so it is great to see they have addressed that. There used to be hair on the floor and the toilets didn’t have seats.

“I used to threaten going in with volunteers and Marigold gloves to clean the place up. It was a deeply unpleasant experience and no one seemed to care.

“It is lovely to see it open because it is a fantastic resource. It is much loved and much appreciated.”

Following the 2018 refurbishment, residents complained that the building did not match plans approved by the Town Hall.

“Residents were concerned with the quality of the refurb as it wasn’t what was in the plans – it wasn’t an impressive project management.” added Ms Pothalingham.

The leisure centre fire in 2018. Photo: Highbury East Lib Dems

“There is a big question mark over the funding model for sports facilities aross Islington and elsewhere, as a result of the pandemic, because they have lost out financially, so it will be good to get back when restrictions allow.”

Town Hall health chief, Labour councillor Nurullah Turan, said: “Islington Council is determined to do all it can to ensure that local people are able to enjoy active, healthy lifestyles. Highbury is one of the busiest leisure centres in London, and we know the devastating impact and disruption that the fire of 2018 caused.

“Since then, the council and GLL have been working tirelessly together to fully restore the building to the highest possible standard.”

He added: “The gym and fitness facilities on the site reopened within just 10 weeks of the fire, and an enormous amount of effort has since gone into rebuilding an even better pool than before.”

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