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Hornsey Town Hall - July 2017 update in the never ending story

There has been a bit more activity at Hornsey Town Hall, including a lot of changes of mind. Perhaps the most visible outward sign of the activity was a Development Management Forum to preview the planning application FEC might be submitting. This was held in the Earl Haig last Monday July 10th.

I've seen and heard several reports of it, and there is a consensus about what happened and was said. Perhaps just as importantly , not said. I did not attend the meeting, I was elsewhere.

Our Local Paper's Report
The Ham and High has produced a report. This once influential organ used to sell 6,000 copies a week, but now can boast only 595. But that did not stop it getting the essence of the meeting right. There were about 80 people present, a show of hands indicated that 90% of those present did not like the scheme, many questions were ducked because the property developers delegated the meeting to the architects and the PR team, and the Haringey planners were accused of being advocates of the scheme, rather than impartial arbiters of planning law. In an attempt to counter this partiality members of the public have insisted on a meeting with Haringey's planning department to discuss the scheme. If you have questions you want raised at this meeting, then reply with them here, or on the Crouch End Neighbourhood Forum website (there is a somewhat anarchic exchange already on this link) . Or even add a response to the very brief HTHAS account of the meeting.

Other bits and pieces I've gleaned :

Our local councillors

Cllr Jason Arthur was also taken to task for being an advocate of the scheme. Which raises a question. Have we elected him to represent our views, in which case we are right to take him to task for backing this unpopular sale to a Cayman Islands based, overseas owner, motivated almost entirely by profit to build a hotel that no one wants, or did we elect him to be wiser than us and to guide us into the paths of righteousness where otherwise we might fear to tread. Cllr Arthur receives from public funds the basic members allowance of £10,703 and a further £25,191 for his two roles in the cabinet for Finance and Health. As a member of the cabinet Cllr Arthur is leading Haringey into the HDV, an undertaking with which Tottenham MP David Lammy has become thoroughly disenchanted, the suggestion being that Cllr Arthur is leading us where we may fear to tread, but not necessarily through wisdom. Much of what the Right Honourable Member for Tottenham says about HDV is pertinent, on a much smaller scale, to Hornsey Town Hall.

Cllr Sarah Elliott, poor thing, is probably confused. Obviously confused as to what it means to be democratically elected as a Lib Dem she now dutifully follows the Labour line on most issues. She has not yet been rewarded with an special responsibility allowance. If my vote counts for anything she won't be rewarded with a council seat next year.

The Hornsey Town Hall Buildings Preservation Trust (HTHCT)

This group has popped its head above the parapet again. I wonder what its role is. Apparently they attended the Development Management Forum. We know they attended some of the OJEU machinations, and, despite the results of their own surveys, agreed to a plan which creates a hotel which no one local wants, and eliminates the greater part of the co-working space, which a great many local people lust for. 

There is a description of a Buildings Preservation Trust which reads "The BPT will inject new life into a derelict or abandoned building by acquiring and restoring it and then either reselling or continuing to manage it as a heritage asset."  HTHCT has never come anywhere close to acquiring the Town Hall, not made a hand's turn towards restoring it, bar perhaps a bit of preventive maintenance, never managed it as any sort of asset, and clearly can't resell it now it has already been sold.

And do you remember their ludicrous ambition that HTH should be ‘A world-class model of civic renaissance, an arena for all that harnesses a spirit of progress, community, creativity and enterprise for future generations in Haringey, London and beyond.’ So, now they've jumped into bed with FEC who have just submitted a planning application which seeks to establish that "The use is not considered to be of more than local importance and is considered to be of significance to Crouch End area only. The scheme is principally intended to respond to a local identified need for community and cultural activities"

They have also agreed to a Community Use Agreement which makes no meaningful reference to an Arts Centre. 

I remain mystified by their existence.

The Hotel

Ah, yes, the hotel. Back in the days when the preferred bidder was big news the plan very clearly was a boutique hotel of some 50 rooms. We all wondered how this would fit into the Dorsett Hotels group, and what function it would serve in Crouch End. But then, rather more recently, at the information sessions in the Town Hall in the spring , I think, this morphed into an aparthotel, a collection of self contained units with living, sleeping, lavatory and cooking facilities. The great beauty of this is that the hotelier needs to provide only very minimal reception facilities and no infrastructure in the way of kitchens and room service. The slight disadvantage is that self contained living units are also called flats or apartments or studios, and, added to the blocks in the car park, they might just trigger the attention of the Mayor. It would be a nuisance to have get the Mayor onside. FEC have clearly put a lot of effort in getting Haringey onside, and probably wouldn't want the hassle. So, now, I am told (I haven't the energy when someone will do my reading for me) that the kitchens have been removed from the aparthotel. So it's just a hotel again. But without a reception area or a kitchen. Any kitchens at all. Really and truly minimalist.

What was not said

 Who will be the "Arts Centre (aka community use)" operator, nor how this will work, nor indeed what an Arts Centre is.

Hornsey Town Hall Appreciation Society

The Hornsey Town Hall Appreciation Society set out its guiding principles about 2 years ago. I now have access to their own assessment of where these stand. It's not a very pretty sight. Guiding principles are all very well, but when you are up against the Kober Cabinet's guiding principle "Brook No Opposition (or even meaningful debate of any sort)" then there is a good chance you will be sidelined. Click on the image to get to the original pdf.


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

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