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The Hornsey Town Hall, having taken advice, are now seeking £20,000 to implement a judicial review. Please read their plea , and contribute, to at least have some chance of putting this sale under proper scrutiny. Just as with the initial appeal they have got off to a flying start.
In order to overturn the decision to grant planning permission a judge would have to asses the decision to grant it as barking mad. Well , any judge who has lived in Haringey for any length of time would probably already believe that for a fact. But in respect of the Town Hall, what evidence do we have of barking madness:
1) The Supper Room, a delightful, atmospheric, intimate, yet large enough music and performance space will be turned into recording studios - woof , woof
2) The current suite of offices, ideal for small and medium sized enterprises, will be turned into bedsits, much against Haringey's own policies Glossed over in the planning decision notice.
3) The change of use of the Supper Room is being overseen by Piers Read, the man who is responsible for the arts and community offering, under the banner of FEC/ Time and Space. But if one of the best venues goes as a private facility, what is happening to the community use
4) The theatre - won't actually work as such according to the support (yes, support) offered by some theatre trust, there are a shed load of objections to the layout.
5) A building outside the conservation area and well out of sight of the Town Hall was used as a precedent for the extra storeys, while a planning permission refusal on grounds of height in the next blosk was ignored.
Piers Read assured me in writing earlier this year that the Supper Room could continue to be used in the same ways as it has been to date in the future despite the recording studio elements. You may not believe him but I'm prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Alas the sale won't be under proper scrutiny unless it's a JR on the deal. Which it isn't, it's just about minor planning procedure.
There is an irony here of course - clearly one thing which irks people are the numbers of affordable units. Unfortunately, if the JR on planning wins, the subsequent re-application to planning will contain a slightly less valuable scheme - which means there'll be fewer affordable units than now.
The absence of affordable units irks me not at all. I'm slightly surprised that the dinner party folk of Crouch End feel so strongly that there should be large numbers of council houses in their midst. 'Ever increasing' might have to be replaced by some other trajectory for property prices if it happened . Still, perhaps it makes us feel virtuous to chatter about, and outwardly support, this most unlikely of outcomes.
And the shortage of homes is a symptom, of too many households. Treating symptoms can only ever be a palliative measure. If we can we should address causes. If we did manage to build the extraordinary number of homes proposed in various plans , and then something completely unexpected happened, like Britain leaving the EU. If the doom sayers are right then conditions in Poland , and Turkey and Albania would become better than here, and the flow of migrants would be reversed, thereby eliminating one of the contributors to household creation. What would we do with all those empty flats.
Surely a judicial review is about bigger issues than granting planning permission? I assume a JR would examine (a) whether the procurement process was sound, fair and followed properly, and (b) whether the decision to award it to FEC was correct. These are quite high bars to jump. Can a copy of the barrister's opinion be put in the public domain, or is it confidential?
If the JR is successful and it is back to square 1 it is not clear to me who the white knight will be to step up to the plate. All prospective developers will have their own commercial agenda, whether they are based in the Caymans or elsewhere.
A JR can be about any public authority decision, large or small. But time limits apply - and the decision to dispose of the TH was taken in June 2015... nearly 3 years ago.
There was a shot at overturning planning, but no case. An argument over the procurement process was timed out too really, but in any event if Haringey had been found wanting the only likely result would be a large fine for Haringey. The FEC project would carry on.
But as Adrian says, times up. Which it was when the council signed contracts in February. February 2017.
The barrister's opinion is confidential, but that matters not now that the attempt has been abandoned.
And as in most legal matters the facts of the matter would have been of little consequence, of more importance would be who made the better argument. The awarding of the contract, and the granting of the planning permission might both have come under review had the judicial review happened. But both points are now moot.