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We are delighted that Catherine West has written to the local press setting out a position on HTH that s closely matches our own. Catherine was a successful leader of Islington council and has a clear understanding of the problems faced by Haringey and the building, and of the possible solutions to them. She is now a member of the shadow ministerial team with a position in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The people of Hornsey and Wood Green voted for her, against the national trend. We respect her opinion and applaud her success.
The text of her letter is at the end of this post, and published in the Ham and High Broadway on Thursday 8th October 2015.
The points we would pick out from her note are:
1) The community should be at the heart of any future plans. Under the terms of the current disposal plans the community interest is recognised with a 30% weighting. It is our contention that this should be a 100% weighting recognised by the transfer of the Hall into community ownership. Read the argument we have put forward to support this and sign the petition if you agree with us
2) The future of the Hall should not be in a dash for cash, but should follow the pattern set over the last twelve months under HTHAC stewardship. There are currently over 70 small businesses operating out of the Hall, as it stands. If the planning permission granted years ago, prior to the Mountview project, were implemented, the spaces occupied by these businesses would be lost. This would be a double blow. Not only would the regeneration of the area which these businesses are bringing be lost, but to accommodate the proposed residential units the interior of the building would be unsympathetically remodelled and shut off from public access.
3) The car park to the rear of the hall clearly represents a chance to provide some much needed housing. Current plans have this devoted to developers` profits. We support Catherine`s call that 50% of any new housing be affordable.
4) Catherine refers to the Crouch End Festival. The Festival is a concentrated period of two weeks during which a very great many members of the public enjoy the facilities and ambience of the Hall. The way the uses of the hall are developing the other 50 weeks of the year can also be filled with public access. The Crouch End Payers are putting on specially and locally written plays in the council chamber. Crouch End Open Studios could make the Hall an annual venue. 14 different theatre companies have recently used rehearsal space in the Hall. Many of us have taken the opportunity to cheer (and groan at) the Rugby World Cup performances on the giant screen in the Assembly Hall. Etcetera, etcetera. All of these activities could disappear behind a plastic curtain and developers` scaffolding for several years if the conversion to flats takes place, perhaps for ever.
5) Catherine points out the significance of the Hall to the wider area. Crouch End is lucky to have the building, and the current range of use and access is drawing in visitors from far and wide. This building has too much potential to disappear into the hands of private tenants. It deserves a place complementing Crouch End`s 5 cinema screens , and venues such as Jackson`s Lane and Alexandra Palace.
The Text of Catherine West’s Open Letter – October 2015
With Hornsey’s proud tradition of the arts, going back to the days of Hornsey School of Art and the original Mountview Theatre Arts School, it is fantastic to see the vibrant arts scene that has developed out of Hornsey Town Hall. The Crouch End Festival is now the biggest community arts festival in the UK and Hornsey Town Hall Arts Centre is a thriving hub of start-ups, creativity and culture. It’s an asset, not just to Crouch End, but to the wider area and I know from the amount of people who have contacted me over recent months that there’s real local enthusiasm for a long-term future for this unique site that safeguards the arts.
That’s something I fully support and I believe it’s vital that the local community are at the heart of any restoration. It would be wonderful to see a not-for-profit, such as a housing association, step forward to take on this much-loved site so that the wider community benefits including the arts, local use and public access are central to any development plans. If there is to be any housing on the site, then I’d want to see a minimum of 50 per cent genuinely affordable housing as that’s what our community needs.
I supported the successful campaign to have Hornsey Town Hall listed as an asset of community value and met with campaigners recently who want to see it transferred into community ownership. To support the campaign, please visit the Hornsey Town Hall Appreciation Society at https://hthas.wordpress.com
Member of Parliament for Hornsey & Wood Green