Danger fears force closure of Roundhouse

THE historic Highbury Roundhouse has been dramatically shut down after health and safety inspectors deemed the building unsafe.

THE historic Highbury Roundhouse has been dramatically shut down after health and safety inspectors deemed the building unsafe.

The youth and community centre, in Ronalds Road, Highbury, has served the young and old of the area for more than 35 years.

But last Thursday Islington Council's building control team formally served a dangerous structures notice on the larger of the two buildings at the back of the site - sparking fears that it may have to be demolished.

The notice ordered that the building must be completely vacated within seven days but William Ellington, chairman of the Highbury Roundhouse, believes that the council has overreacted.

He said: "We have had a hot summer and, like many buildings in Islington, we were built on clay and there has been some shifting of the building and widening of the cracks in the walls.

"A notice like this means there is a genuine danger of the building falling down but we don't think that's the case and we don't think there is a genuine risk."

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The Highbury Roundhouse is home to a number of community groups and includes a nursery, a youth club, pensioners' groups and sports and exercise classes.

The front building is still open as usual, but there are fears the back building has deteriorated to such an extent that it may have to be demolished within weeks.

Although the centre has launched an appeal against the notice it is now looking to relocate the services to other venues. The youth club has already made a temporary move to nearby Drayton Park Primary School.

Andrew Berthier, director of the Highbury Roundhouse, added: "We will fight tooth and nail to stay here because any move would cause enormous disruption to families who have been coming for generations.

"But thankfully at the moment the noises from the council are positive."

Councillor Paul Convery, Islington Council's executive member for planning and regeneration, said: "The council is doing everything possible to find alternative temporary accommodation for vital community, youth and play services which are currently accommodated at Highbury Roundhouse.

"Structural engineers fear the building is too dangerous for use and, if that is true, we will speed-up a redevelopment plan for the current site to create a permanent replacement building.

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