The future face of the Clapham High Street area, named Clapham One, is finally taking shape after a long delay caused by funding problems during the recession. But, it’s a new year and Lambeth Council has now secured the construction of a new library, mini shopping centre and housing unit on the High Street and an entirely new, renovated leisure centre to replace the (now closed) existing one. The scheme is exciting, but has been met with some criticism. We asked our Clapper followers on Twitter what they thought.
Delays to the project, while understandable given the economic downturn, have caused concern among local Clappers with @Jason_Cobb saying “My concerns are that Future Clap’ham will continue to run behind schedule. Already 2 years late.” Indeed, with no leisure centre in the heart of Clapham until the new building is complete in 18 months or so, Clappers are being advised to hop on a bus to nearby Brixton for their fitness needs.
Us Clappers certainly know a thing or two about aesthetics and the importance of making a good visual impression, so it’s unsurprising that the most controversial topic is the look of the two buildings. About the main tower block building @edwardclarke says “I like the design! Big improvement on the very dull building that’s there now,” while @alliekeith says “I don’t like the suggested apartments on the high st – looks like a cartoon.” The fact that the designs are just diagrams at the moment probably doesn’t help, but Love Clapham can see her point; it does have a touch of the Flint Stones about it. Nevertheless, Love Clapham loves the main High Street block and it will certainly add to the unusual character of the street started by our spaceship styled Sainsburys!
The new Leisure Centre however is the biggest sore spot for most Clappers. Last April we reported a drive by residents in the area to object against the plans for more social housing on the site with only a few car parking spaces to cope. Also, Clappers weren’t particularly happy about the proposed ‘modern’ look of the building described then on a leaflet as “a big white monstrosity.”
Indeed, opinion doesn’t seem to have changed on this one, “new Clapham Leisure Centre looks like a multistorey car park mated with a supermarket. But it’s what’s on the inside that counts,” says @filmish. It doesn’t stop there with @bigsquiddiving likening it to “a storage unit rather than a leisure centre!” and @edwardclarke asking “Maybe should have preserved Victorian facade on modern rebuild?”
Here at Love Clapham HQ, we have to agree that we’d have preferred the leisure centre to have remained in keeping, at least on the outside, with the residential street it sits on. Having said that, with all progress comes change and there’s no denying that this huge investment in Clapham is nothing but a good thing. The Leisure Centre may look like a big greenhouse, but the facilities are going to be state-of-the-art and useful, while the High Street development is something everyone in Clapham should be proud of. Clapham High Street is desperately in need of investment and something to really put it on the map, this building will undoubtedly do that.
So, thanks to everyone involved for getting this huge project off the ground at last and here’s to hoping more delays don’t happen. To find out more Love Clapham will be interviewing people at the helm of the project soon – stay tuned!
What do you think of Clapham One? Tell us below and visit the Clapham One website for pictures and more information.