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Flood of defects adds to Clissold's problems

Water build-up said to be through failure to turn on basement pumps rather than leaking roof

FRESH claims of blundering have hit a mothballed £30 million health complex in north London this week.

The Clissold Leisure Centre in Stoke Newington opened in March 2002 but owner Hackney Borough Council was forced to shut it just a few months later after a catalogue of defects came to light.

The flagship swimming project has been hit by a series of High Court writs ever since, with project builder Gleeson, architect Hodder Associates, consultant Davis Langdon and engineer Whitbybird on the wrong end of council legal action.

But a project source told Construction News the problems at the centre had not been caused by a leaking roof and poor waterproofing. Instead he said a failure to turn on water extractor pumps in the basement was the root cause.

He said: 'The problem was that sump pumps in the basement were left off, so overflowing water from the pool simply built up.Effectively it's like filling your bath tub, blocking the overflow and leaving the taps running.'

He claimed three sump pumps in the basement were left inactive for a long period of time causing the electric plant room to flood.

Among the faults that have plagued the building are water damage to the sports hall floor, cracked walls in the squash courts, defective changing rooms and sewage in the main building.These contributed to costs rocketing threefold to £32 million.

All parties are now due to sit down for three days of mediation next month in an attempt to resolve the debate surrounding project defects. Should this prove fruitless, a High Court date has been set for October.

The council is now examining expressions of interest from contractors wanting to carry out the £5 million of repairs needed to bring the centre up to scratch.Up to six teams will be shortlisted by April with work scheduled to start in May.

Repairs are due to be finished next February.

Senior project manager Jon Markovic, previously the council's procurement manager, has been appointed to oversee all contractors. He will report to Hackney's director of community and leisure.