Britannia Project, Hackney

Delivering significant new social infrastructure

Tibbalds provided strategic urban design and planning advice to the Council and design team as part of this rare opportunity involving the delivery of a mixed-use development comprising state-of-the-art education facilities, a replacement sport and leisure centre, affordable homes and high density private residential development, which helped provide the funds to deliver the public uses.

Project Deliverables:
481 mixed tenure new homes, a leisure centre, secondary school, early years centre, public realm
London Borough of Hackney
Feilden Clegg Bradley, Falkner Browns, Churchman, Buro Happold, WSP, Max Fordham, Trium, Arcadis
Under Construction

The Britannia Project represents a bold and creative approach to the delivery of social infrastructure in an urban situation where land is scarce and resources constrained.

Located next to Shoreditch Park, the Britannia Leisure Centre had formed a key role in meeting the sport and leisure needs of Hackney’s residents for a long time. The existing building was, however, reaching the end of its design life and was becoming increasingly expensive to maintain. At the same time the building was set in a context of under-utilised car parks and poor-quality public realm.

The site was earmarked by the Council for redevelopment. In addition to providing a replacement leisure centre, the site was identified as providing the opportunity to accommodate new education facilities, including a new secondary school and affordable housing. The brief also sought to secure as much private housing as possible to help cross fund the delivery of the new and replacement social and community infrastructure.

Following on from some initial feasibility work undertaken by others we were appointed by LB Hackney to provide strategic urban design and planning advice to the wider design team.

The project was underpinned by a demanding programme that required the delivery of the school by a specified date. At the same time the brief required that the new leisure centre be up and running prior to the existing facility being closed. The project also had to deliver on a number of political commitments in terms of levels of affordable housing and maximum building heights.

As part of the process a number of complex technical constraints had to be overcome and given the nature of the project required the views of a very wide ranging group of existing and potential new users of the facilities had to be taken on board, together with the views of a resident community that was resistant to the prospect of redevelopment.

Resolution of these various factors drove the pre-planning and masterplanning strategies for the project. Decisions made in relation to the format of the application (a hybrid) and the levels of detail included with the application, which included an EIA were also essential in terms of enabling delivery on time and budget.

Finally the way in which we engaged with the community, the many departments of the Council, the planning authority and the GLA also played a key role in terms of keeping the project on track in terms of keeping the planning balance weighted in favour of the scheme.

We are proud of the fact that we have helped ensure that the process took only a year from planning submission to start on site. The first phase, comprising the construction of the leisure centre and the secondary school is now well advanced. The second phase, comprising the residential element of the scheme benefits from detailed planning permission and is due to commence early 2023.


  • The Planning Awards 2019, Shortlisted, Planning Permission of the Year category

  • New London Awards 2020, Shortlisted, Planning Category

  • New London Awards 2022, Winner, Culture Category And Overall Winner

Core Team

Below are some of the key people that worked on this project.

  • Portrait of Lizzie Le Mare
    Lizzie Le Mare
  • Portrait of Jennifer Ross
    Jennifer Ross
  • Portrait of Leanne Williams
    Leanne Williams
Portrait of Lizzie Le Mare

Start the conversation...

Learn more about The Britannia Project by contacting one of our team

Call Lizzie on 0207 089 2121 or email