OpinioN8

Connecting Crouch End and Hornsey with news, views and information

Ham and High is unusually outspoken about the proposed hotel

 writes

Hornsey Town Hall to become a hotel

The controversy surrounding the sale of Hornsey Town Hall has intensified after the council recommended a bid to convert the building into a hotel.

A consultation earlier this year found that just 0.37 per cent of more than 300 locals wanted to see it become a hotel.

It ranked ninth out of nine uses suggested by the Hornsey Town Hall Creative Trust poll.

On Friday Haringey announced that a consortium led by Far East Consortium International Ltd (FEC) will be recommended to cabinet to acquire the 125-year lease on the grade II* listed building. It will develop the hotel along with other facilities including community spaces.

Chris Currer, co-founder of Hornsey Town Hall Appreciation Society (HTHAS), thought that a rival bid from firm Tishman Speyer would have better served locals. Tishman Spyer’s consortium involved Bioregional – an award-winning social enterprise.

Mr Currer said: “I certainly think that if you look at the Creative Trust consultation then the Tishman bid ticked a lot more of those boxes.

“We are quite disappointed from a community perspective because it seems that the start-ups, small businesses and young creative businesses will be effectively evicted.”

Haringey maintains that the successful bidder will be legally obliged to meet strict requirements ensuring community access to the building and guaranteeing public access to the town hall square at all times.

Cllr Alan Strickland, cabinet member for planning, said: “We have worked…to assess community aspects of the bids from developers to get the best deal for local residents.”

But an HTHAS statement described details of any such commitments as “disappointingly thin” and hoped that cabinet papers released on October 18 would provide “considerably more information”.

“There’s nothing cast iron in the proposals,” said Mr Currer.

The choice of FEC, a Hong Kong firm registered in the Cayman Islands, has also raised eyebrows in a week when London Mayor Sadiq Khan launched an inquiry into foreign property ownership.

Catherine West, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, has been pushing for a not-for-profit organisation to take on the site .

She will be in the Hornsey Town Hall café on Thursday October 13 at 4pm to speak to residents wishing to voice their concern.

Tags: dorsett, far east consortium, hornsey town hall, ojeu, tax haven

Views: 298

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

This is the text (see below) of an interview given to the South China Morning Post in 1993 after fraud charges were dropped (on the grounds of ill health according to the report) There is also reference to a a member of the family being convicted of manslaughter after a policeman was run over which is described as " tragedy" rather than a deliberate act. On the fraud charges at least there has to be a presumption of innocence and the family seem to have rebuilt their business and reputation globally. I am as puzzled as others by the concept of a boutique hotel in Crouch End but this firm has made billions from other property bets in the past and they seem pretty shrewd investors. They are on record as saying they opposed Brexit but that the drop in sterling will make investment in the UK more productive. Incidentally I understand Soho House group considered a bid but walked away as the site did not fit their profile. Personally, I would have liked to see more provision for local SMEs but otherwise at least we finally have some concrete proposals to debate. 

 

By KARL WILSON 9 May 1993 South China Morning Post

 

MR DEACON Chiu Te-ken had just one piece of advice for his son, David, as he walked away from the High Court last Monday a free man: "This is over now. Put it all behind you and make up for lost time." And that is exactly what Mr David Chiu Tat-cheong intends to do, now that he has been cleared of fraud charges hanging over his head for the last five years. "My dream," he said in an exclusive interview with Sunday Money, "is to restore Far East Consortium Ltd to where it once was ... one of Hongkong's top 30 capitalised companies. Today, FEC languishes in the bottom 200 companies according to market capitalisation though it still controls assets of around $2 billion. "It won't happen overnight but it will happen in time. I am young and our management team is young. But above all we have the same goal." Although one of the territory's biggest property players in the 1970s and early '80s, Mr Chiu does not see Hongkong holding the key to FEC's future. When the phones stopped ringing, soon after his arrest by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), the managing director of FEC quickly found himself standing alone in Hongkong's business community. Although he never doubted his own innocence, others did. "People in Hongkong think that when you are charged you are bad," he said. "The Chinese don't look at such things in an English perspective ... that is you are innocent until proven guilty." He personally shouldered much of the burden of the last five years but could not entirely shield his family, especially his children from the public spotlight. "I think that hurt the most," he said. "My children didn't really know what was happening but their school friends told them, `Your daddy is bad'. That hurt ... it hurt more than anything else." Business ticked over, he said, but FEC saw its position and influence in Hongkong greatly diminished. Mr Chiu said he missed the Hongkong property boom of the last five years, which "would have made us a lot of money". The reason was not because the banks wouldn't lend him money, he said, adding: "Frankly, I didn't ask because at the back of my mind I was always worried about being refused." He did, however, have some lines open to certain Japanese banks "which were extremely kind to us". "It takes a long time to build a relationship with a Japanese bank but once that relationship has been established they trust you all the way. "We knew we were not in play in Hongkong so we went down to Malaysia and Singapore," he said. And the move has paid handsome dividends. Today FEC is one of the biggest private property developers in Malaysia and is expanding into property development in China. Towards the end of the year, the company will begin one of the biggest private residential developments in Malaysia, just five minutes from Kuala Lumpur. The project will involve the construction of 4,300 units with a gross development area of six to seven million square feet. Page 3 of 4 © 2016 Factiva, Inc. All rights reserved. "We have built up quite a sizeable land bank in Malaysia," Mr Chiu said. "And we are sitting there with the potential of quite a lot of profit. "What I would like to say to my shareholders is this: `I'm sorry we couldn't perform the way we should have in the Hongkong property market, but the management made it up for you in Malaysia'." Fraud charges cause financing problems Mr Chiu said he was philosophical about the events of the last five years. With the fraud charges hanging over his head, he found it difficult to find finance, and people were reluctant to do business with him. All of which was perfectly understandable, he said. But no sooner had the charges been dropped than the phones began ringing again in Mr David Chiu's office. Last Monday, Mr Justice Leonard said he had no alternative but to formally discharge Mr Chiu, and the six counts of fraud and false accounting involving a total of $179 million were dropped. For the Chiu family, once one of Hongkong's most prominent and powerful business entities, it brought to an end a multi-million-dollar legal battle that went as far as the Privy Council in London to clear the family name and restore its honour. A month earlier, Mr Justice Leonard had ruled that Mr Deacon Chiu would not have a fair trial because he suffered from a serious deterioration in his intellectual and memory functions. He said he was satisfied this was a rare and exceptional case and accepted that Mr Chiu's medical condition was progressive and had a gravely adverse effect on his ability to conduct his defence. The trial of Mr David Chiu was to have begun last Monday but a packed courtroom listened in stunned silence as the Crown prosecutor, Mr Joe Pethes, said that after careful reading of Mr Justice Leonard's 114-page judgement outlining his reasons for awarding 68-year-old Deacon Chiu a permanent stay of proceedings, the Atto rney-General had decided not to proceed with the prosecution's case against Mr David Chiu. Mr Chiu senior was indicted on a total of 14 conspiracy charges in 1988, which had allegedly occurred between 1982 and 1985 and involved loans amounting to $352.5 million. Mr David Chiu was arrested in February, 1989. For the Chius it was the second tragedy to hit the family. In July 1983, Dennis Chiu, then 24 and managing director of Asia Television, hit and killed a young policeman. He was sentenced to four years' imprisonment for manslaughter but won remission of one-third of the term for good behaviour. Mr Chiu said he had been finalising a deal to buy the Kuala Lumpur Plaza when charged. "It was a superb deal," he recalled. "We had signed a deal subject to finance. When I was charged, the Singaporean bank we had arranged finance with withdrew. If we had brought that property we would have been sitting on at least $300 million profit today. "Obviously, it wasn't meant to be," he said. "In life there are moments that are to your advantage and those that are not. And this was one of them." Of his father, now honorary chairman of the FEC group, Mr Chiu said: "At his age he obviously can't pick the pieces up and rebuild his life ... not at 70. That is the age you start planning your retirement. "A lot of people say he was tight with his money but they forget the money he has poured back into the community by building hospitals and such. He may be tight with his money but he has been generous in his heart to others. My father was not a man who liked to eat in expensive restaurants or buy fleets of Rolls-Royces. But to others he was very generous." Deacon Chiu is like a lot of his generation of self-made millionaires. He came to Hongkong from Shanghai in 1950 and a year later set up his own business. By 1958 he had established the Far East Bank. "I remember when my father was at the peak of his career in the 1970s and early '80s," Mr Chiu said. "He would walk into a cocktail party and the cameras would start flashing all over the place. After the ICAC case, people stopped taking notice. I don't have to spell out what impact that had on him. "All this has changed him. He used to be a very trusting man. He trusted everyone. Not any more. Any documents he receives he insists on Chinese translations and wants things explained. Often he just pushes them aside and doesn't sign anything." Page 4 of 4 © 2016 Factiva, Inc. All rights reserved. Mr Chiu is determined to make up for lost time but he is not going to overreact either "just because the banks want to lend us money again". "For me I am 38 and I can rebuild my confidence." "I will take my time and we will examine each deal very closely." One thing the last five years has done is force my family to delegate more. There was a time when I would go overseas and be called all the time by people wanting to know if they can do this or that. Now they don't call. People get on with the job. "I guess it's also a sign of the company's maturity

 

You say "we finally have some concrete proposals to debate". I beg to differ. The cabinet has the option of saying Yes or No  (or maybe?). We have no voice whatsoever except what we take for ourselves by speaking out..

Fair comment. The council's behaviour does seem pretty undemocratic. Even the wording of their press release was amateurish and ambiguous.You get the impression they can't wait to wash their hands of the site and concentrate on poorer parts of the borough. My personal view is that it is pointless proposing any scheme that is not commercially viable and unfortunately that will involve compromise that will upset some. No-one will get everything they want (cheap local office space would suit me) but I'd prefer that to another decade of inertia.

How about submitting a Freedom of Information request for all materials, including notes emails, minutes and written correspondence relating to the process? Knowing Haringey they will have screwed up somewhere and an FOI may provide evidence for a judicial review/legal challenge

HTHAS has already submitted a non-FoI request for information to Haringey. I think there are two chances of its being answered - fat and slim. But I feel sure that HTHAS is even now redrafting this as an FoI request.

Their main points were as below - what else should they ask?

  • Full details of the decision to recommend FEC/Coplan including financial justification
  • Details of the financial benefits Haringey have secured through the sale of the lease
  • Details of all outside consultants and advisers to the process
  • Full details of the historic accrued costs of the disposal that Haringey intends to set against the capital receipt
  • The scoring sheets and accompanying narrative that explains the scores given for all criteria for both FEC/Coplan and Tishman Speyer/Bio Regional
  • A full disclosure of the community use and access offer in both bids
  • Details of any discussions with the winning bidder that Haringey have had about community consultation/engagement/governance
  • A full account of the deliberations and report of the HTH Creative Trust. The community has a right to know what has been decided on their behalf
  • Sight of the confidentiality agreement signed by HTH Creative Trust members involved in the scoring of the CA component of the bids
  • The business plan for a hotel, as contained in the bid, and a reasoned justification for the commercial viability of a hotel of this size in Crouch End, with relevant correspondence and reports of officers, members and consultants
  • The vision and business plan for an arts centre or venue, as contained in the bids
  • All officer and member correspondence in relation to the possible future sale/development of Alexandra Palace to the parties of the same consortium
  • Details of any visits to HTH and Alexandra Palace by FEC/Coplan and LBH Officers
  • Details of safeguards and restrictions contained in the Development Agreement and Lease including clauses on changes of ownership, management, use and control
  • Disclosure and account of the planning strategy and sight of any correspondence for Property service officers/GVA with Haringey planning officers about amendments to the existing planning permission and discussions about all proposed planning applications
  • Further information about the £1 million that the local Councillors say will be invested in Hornsey Library (statement 30th October) to include details of where the money will come from and whether that investment is contingent on the current bid for HTH being successful

That seems very comprehensive but that could backfire if they claim it would be too expensive or time-consuming to research and respond to every point. I'd suggest simplifying it to a request to see any and all data related to the Hornsey Town Hall since inception of the sale process, including emails (official or otherwise), minutes, notes, text messages, memos, journal entries, meeting and conference call notes, official correspondence and press office briefing documents (including pre-prepared messages and lines to be used only "if asked')  Plus any hospitality or "facilties" offered to council officials by the winning bidders and any covenants or conditions agreed between the parties.  You could then include the more detailed list as an addendum to assist in their search for the relevant info. I suspect they will try to wiggle out claiming commercial confidentiality etc so don't take their initial no for answer. Good luck   

RSS

© 2017   Created by Adrian Essex.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service