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Kentish Town sports centre blocked

PUBLISHED: 13:55 08 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:47 07 September 2010

PROTESTERS have come to the end of the road after council chiefs agreed to block access to a Kentish Town sports centre. Dalby Street is the main access point to the Talacre Community Sports Centre, used by thousands of visitors each year. But the road wi

PROTESTERS have come to the end of the road after council chiefs agreed to block access to a Kentish Town sports centre.

Dalby Street is the main access point to the Talacre Community Sports Centre, used by thousands of visitors each year. But the road will now be 'stopped up' so a controversial seven-storey development can be built in its place.

Those who have opposed the plans from the outset claim the move will damage the sports centre by making the entrance unappealing as well as reducing the space available for parents to drop off their children for classes.

Nick Harding, 71, of Queen's Crescent, is concerned about the future of the centre which his grandchildren use for specialist gymnastic facilities.

He said: "It's scandalous. The sports centre is very important not just to the Haverstock area but to the whole of north London - it's the biggest gymnastic club in the country. Stopping up Dalby Street would do tremendous damage to the centre. Talacre is a very special place and this must be preserved."

Developers Cornwall Overseas Development Limited are set to build a 55-flat block which will include a doctor's surgery on the ground floor.

An alternative, smaller approach road measuring 2.5metres across and without pavements is to be built next to the existing road, along with five pillars and a team of marshals responsible for ensuring that vehicles use the road safely.

Talacre Gardens resident Peter Cumming said: "The sports centre has 300,000 visitors a year and most of them use the Dalby Street approach. These plans will create a very narrow vehicles-only street that needs marshals from 8am to 11pm every day.

"The marshals will need the same facilities you would expect for lifeguards at the Men's Pond on Hampstead Heath - but no details have been given at all.

"These are not fussy little things - they are crucial. They need a TV room with a monitor, somewhere to make cups of tea and all the things you would expect. The developer won't end up paying for this. Camden ratepayers will, for years."

He also says the pillars on the alternative road would be the perfect hiding place for muggers.

But there would appear to be little recourse for the protesters.

The decision, made by environment boss Rachel Stopard, follows a public inquiry into the proposals last year. Now Mayor of London Boris Johnson has also given the council his backing.

A Camden Council spokeswoman said: "Like the planning inspector and the mayor, Ms Stopard was satisfied that all the objections had been addressed and that suitable alternative access arrangements are to be put in place.

"These arrangements are secured through a legal agreement that requires the developer to ensure properly managed access to the sports centre is provided at all times - initially via the existing Dalby Street and later along newly constructed routes over the site.


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