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It beggars belief - FEC contempt - #HTHbaddeal #HTHobject

Bloody ages ago FEC won a procurement process to buy a very long lease for a very low price on Hornsey Town Hall. Obviously the underlying fault here lies with Haringey council who have adopted the dogmatic view that a mass disposal of public assets to iffy private companies is the only way forward. But FEC have conspired with them to show very considerable contempt for the public and for the process.

FEC won the procurement largely by sleight of hand. They promised:

  • Not to submit a planning application - this is just a huge advantage over the other bidders. Our local councillors will tell us it was only worth a few points in the bidding, but a few points here and there are what add up. They have now submitted a planning application which was largely rejected at the pre-application stage. It is huge , too big for most members of the public to follow; it has been substantially amended, over 60 documents are now marked as 'superseded'; and inept, especially in the not quite redacted secret workings out document.
  • They offered to build a boutique hotel. Now we have a proposal with 67 tawdry bed sits. Which everyone expects will shortly become additional flats for sale
  • They said we could have an Arts Centre, but now they have appointed a venture capitalist to let office space, to run a theatre which won't work, according to the Theatre Trust, who damn the proposals with very, very faint praise, if they do what they have said in the plans.
  • They ran one of those sham consultations , one of the outcomes of which was a redesigned Town Hall square, which now seems fit for nothing except serving coffee, especially if any one ever parks a bike in the innumerable bike racks

But if a picture paints a thousand words, take a look at these two. These have, in all seriousness, been submitted by a reputable firm of architects in support of a £100m+ planning application, and purport to show views of the Town Hall from Alexandra Park before and after the new buildings go up. Now if that's not taking the piss , what is?

Before the development After the development

I have included a critique of the before and after views in my submission to the planning committee:

  1.   Verified views. In the Design and Access statement part 10 the applicant purports to demonstrate that the proposed development will not detract from the context of the listed buildings. The views have largely been chosen to obscure the true effect of the development.

    1. View 1 has been selected so that the Town Hall is obscured by trees in full leaf and offers no useful information.

    2. View 2 has been chosen from a vantage point close to the library so that little can be seen of any of the proposed development. This view also contains trees in full leaf tofurther obscure the view. Stephen Richter has supplied views which suggest that the red dotted lines in View 2 underestimate the true effect. One of the sets of dotted lines is drawn through a pair fo trees which will be removed,

    3. View 3 does begin to give some indication of the overbearing nature of the development , the cnayon-like gap between the new buildings, and the overall effect on the conservation area.

    4. It beggars belief that View 4 (A and B) be offered as serious evidence in relation to this application. Please see alternative views of the Town Hall from Alexandra Park elsewhere in this submission

    5. View 5 appears not to be a view of the Town Hall

    6. View 6 also chooses trees in full leaf to obscure what the effect might be

    7. View 7 seems to have been omitted

    8. View 8 might do quite nicely in a travelogue for Crouch End, but tells us nothing of the proposed development.

Tags: HTHbaddeal, HTHobject, dorsett, far east consortium, hornsey town hall, ojeu, planning application, tax haven

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ADRIAN thank you for drawing attention to the role in planning applications of the depictions of trees and distant perspectives. It seems to me that these are often wielded in order to show how lovely a building will look, or how little impact it will have on the landscape or horizon.

Any size or height of building can more easily be pitched to punters, if it is drawn behind or alongside trees, from a low vantage point and at the height of summer. The desired impression is, that looks nice.

A built-structure needs to be considered alone, without dressing. Trees improve and soften the appearance of just about any built structure but Applicants and their agents often use them to flatter.

Having been on the Planning Committee now for more than three years, I'm coming to the view that—while accurate perspective views are important and often essential—trees should be banned from all “artist's impressions” for these reasons:

If a tree,

  • already exists, then there are these regular things called and autumn and winter
  • is promised, it may not be planted
  • is planted, it may take some time to reach maturity, esp. maturities depicted by artist's brushes
  • reaches maturity, it may be cut down
  • isn't ever cut down, it may be blown down

As for horizons, the Planning Committee has several times been taken up to Ally Pally in order to demonstrate how small a distant building would appear. However, if one goes far enough away, even a 35-storey building can be made to disappear! 


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