Applause erupted from the public gallery at the town hall last night as controversial plans for a £23m leisure facility in the borough were rejected by Waltham Forest council’s planning committee.
It followed a heated discussion about plans for Pool and Track in Chingford Road, Walthamstow.
Dozens of young divers and their families turned out to register their disapproval at a decision not to replace high-board facilities as part of the refurbishment.
Justin Jardin, social director at council leisure contractor, GLL, said: “We want to get more people more active more often.
“This will be a spectacular, first class leisure facility – it will be one of a kind.”
His speech was met with jeers from the crowd who called for him to answer why a sporting activity was being removed completely, but a treatment room and spa being added.
Impassioned speeches were given by parents and councillors who said they could not understand why there had been no consultation.
Rachel Wedderburn’s daughter Sophia has been diving for over a year.
She said: “My daughter was inspired by Tom Daley and Pete Waterfield at the Olympics.
"She was excited to go to the Aquatic Centre. The reality was disappointing.
“It is not practical and it is a very long journey after school. We want sports in our borough, not spas.”
Councillor Roy Berg, of Endlebury Ward, said: “You are not giving the people what they want.
“We are one of the few boroughs in London that has a 5m diving board and now you want to take it away.
“Two years ago this borough was proud of the Olympics and what we did and we encouraged our children and now you want to deprive them of facilities.”
Conservative group leader Matt Davies accused developers of having a ‘blind spot’, adding he had not been contacted so many times since the future of Walthamstow Stadium was being debated.
He urged developers to re-design the facility.
Ian Capes, a former chairman of Waltham Forest Diving Club, showed pictures children lining up to use the 5m board during a public session.
Cllr Alan Siggers questioned the quality of the design, adding that since diving and swimming facilities were not separated he had concerns over safety.
“You know that phrase accident waiting to happen,” he said.
“Well this is it.”
Cllr Siggers also asked multiple times for GLL to explain how much a 5m diving board costs, which they were unable to confirm.
Councillor Karen Bellamy, of Higham Hill ward, told the council that she drove to Newham to see how far away the Aquatic Centre was and it took her "over an hour".
Cllr Bellamy refused to vote it through because of loss of amenity, adding many constituents would not be able to go to Newham because of cost and time.
The plans were rejected by three votes to two.