Future of Hawkey Hall in doubt

Sir James Hawkey hall in Woodford Green

Sir James Hawkey hall in Woodford Green - Credit: Archant

The future of a Woodford Green community centre has been put in doubt, after the borough’s leisure chief revealed it could be demolished.

Speaking at last night’s overview committee, Iain Varah, chief executive of Vision, told members that Sir James Hawkey Hall, in Broomhill Road, could be torn down to build a new community facility.

Cllr Tom McLaren (Con, Church End), who is on the committee, said: “He answered quite directly, yes it will be demolished.

“It was quite a surprise that we got an answer, even if it was something we have suspected for a while.”

The council announced plans last month to move Woodford Green Library to Hawkey Hall, potentially with a gym being built as well, but this was the first time the demolition was revealed publicly.

Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal tempered these claims slightly, telling the Recorder nothing had been decided yet.

“Hawkey Hall is not going to be demolished for a library, it could be demolished if the council goes ahead with a further regeneration plan.

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“What I want is a community facility with housing, that is what we are trying to do all over the borough on brownfield sites.”

The council leader explained this was not an imminent project, stating any work would be “four or five years away”.

The Tories are believed to prefer a redevelopment on the current library site in Snakes Lane West.

Cllr McLaren said: “Cllr Huggett put forward demolishing the existing library and replacing it with a mixed use facility.

“It has much better public transport links and is accessible to residents the other side of the railway.

“If we were to lose the Kenneth More Theatre and Hawkey Hall we would effectively have no drama facilities in the borough.”

Speaking about the possible demolition of the 75-year-old building, Cllr Linda Huggett (Con, Monkhams) said she was “gobsmacked”.

She added: “It’s the fact we don’t know what it’s going to be replaced with.

“The library and Hawkey Hall has to be updated but it’s a bit of a shock that it’s going to be knocked down completely.”