There's a storm brewing over the future of Sobell Leisure Centre in Hornsey Road, Holloway. Passionate local residents and users of the 1973, concrete block of a diverse, multi-purpose sports facility are accusing Islington Council of steamrolling ahead with plans to demolish and rebuild the centre in spite of strong local feeling in favour of refurbishment.
The current plan would mean the closure of any facility at Sobell for 2 years whilst it was torn down then built anew, incorporating a swimming pool (despite existing pools nearby at Highbury Corner and Caledonian Road). It would be part funded by 4 new residential blocks on the site. Alternative plans have been put forward by locals, proposing refurbishment of the well-loved facility, denying the need for a pool, preventing long term closure and urging the council to keep the space around it for much needed parkland all within the £12m odd already ringfenced for the scheme.
The Lib Dem councillor responsible for leisure, Ruth Polley, claims it “has been the largest consultation on a single project in Islington’s history” although only 2.7% of resident responded and refurbishment was not an option in the consultation documents, having apparently been written off from the start. Could it be that locals felt it was a pointless consultation to participate in, when the options were merely 4 types of demolition?
The results of the "consultation" go before the council's ruling executive this Thursday.
Image courtesy of Gaz-zee-boh via the Londonist Flickrpool