Highbury Roundhouse trustees given final chance to save it

Highbury Roundhouse and Youth Centre will be demolished unless trustees can explain how they can repair the crumbling building.

Trustees have until March 31 to produce their proposal to Islington Council or it will face demolition.

The community centre in Ronald’s Road, Highbury, has been closed since August when a dangerous structure notice was placed on the old Victorian building. Islington Council has since stated that repairs will cost a massive �800,000.

Tony Miller, a trustee of Highbury Roundhouse, said: “We are confident that we will be able to produce a solution which will be cost effective by the council’s deadline.”

Islington Council executive members agreed a timetable on Thursday which will see the trustees’ repair scheme – being drafted by Morton Partnership engineers – considered by a council surveyor.

Councillor Paul Convery, executive member for planning and regeneration, said: “The danger notice may be lifted if this is a cost effective solution which can achieve the suitable repairs. If not we shall approve the demolition of the building and find Highbury Roundhouse a temporary accommodation.”

Highbury Roundhouse offered dance classes, karate lessons and a pensioners club and the activities have been continued at six different venues in Islington since the closure.

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Mr Miller said: “We can’t understand this �800,000 figure and feel we can find something much cheaper. This building has been important for the last 40 years as it includes the main hall, the dance class and an IT suite.

“We can’t agree to a new centre if we don’t know what it will offer – it could be just a couple of rooms. That’s why we are determined to reopen the current building.”

It emerged at the meeting that the centre could be replaced by houses when councillors admitted that housing associations had examined the site – but they also insisted they were just considering different options.

Councillor Convery said: “We would need a development of significant value to bring with it a new purpose built youth centre and the most likely development to achieve this would be housing.”

Councillor Catherine West, leader of Islington Council, reacted furiously when facing criticism over the youth centre from Councillor Terry Stacey who was the leader of the previous Liberal Democrat administration.

She said: “These people have been let down for the past 10 years. In the days of plenty you did nothing to help the Highbury Roundhouse. When we took over it was a complete mess.”