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I attended the Crouch End, Stroud Green and Hornsey Area Forum and Committee on Monday 26th September 2011 and one of the important items discussed was the proposed tenancy of Hornsey Town Hall by the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts
Time was set aside in a strictly controlled agenda for a presentation and questions. This was the only slot of the evening to over run. The presentation given by the Sue Robertson of the Mountview Academy and Liz Sich of the Hornsey Town Hall Creative Trust and their back up team presents a very splendid picture of the Hall in the future. My own view is that this latest proposal for the future of the Hall is perfectly acceptable and should be supported by the taxpayers of Haringey wholeheartedly. The contents of the main part of the Mountview presentation on their tenancy of the Town Hall can be seen here. Some additional diagrams about the proposal have been published in the Hornsey Journal this week.
Highlights of the proposal include:
I think the benefit to the council (which as a tax payer I regard as being potentially synonymous with my own) is two fold:
1) the building is used in a way which is not totally dissimilar to the various different ways which have been proposed in recent years, i.e. in an arty theatrical sort of way which benefits and involves the community at least to some extent
2) the council is discharged from the duty to maintain a cumbersome ageing building which suffers from the benefit of having been listed and therefore comes under the very close scrutiny of various conservation bodies
The main benefit I see to me is that this proposal does seem to have an end to it, so something might actually happen.
The risk is that the lease does not match the aspirations. Luckily the Area Committee has taken this risk on board and will request a sight of the lease prior to signature.
According to my notes from the meeting, Mountview estimate "this will be a £19m project" - presumably meaning that from now until they move in £19m will be spent. I think that's about half and half from Haringey and Mountview - Haringey to make the building viable, and Mountview to turn it into a Theatre School. Mountview's annual premises costs from the latest accounts were abo.... So if they can get grants to cover capital outlay to make most of that expenditure unnecessary, they save a lot of money and Haringey gets its (our) building cared for.
One of the things I asked for at the meeting was a sight of the lease before it is signed - this was minuted in the committee section and the formal request will be made to Haringey. I too would like to be sure it's good value all round.
anything that means money is being pumped into the area can only be a good thing. no doubt they will be paying business rates to that should be ploughed back into the community. The lease should be a public document for sure...
Mountview is already in Haringey so the business rates are already coming into the borough.
Surely this can only be a positive thing for the area! A true use for the community good. Rooms for hire is a major plus for the community especially if its going to be subject to a multi-million pound refurb. Sounds like win win for all involved.
I think it is win - win provided all the brave words about public access, sensitive refurbishment, etcetera, are achieved in practice. Most people do think this, the little survey on this site shows 24 to 5 in favour of the proposals.
As Helen points out the move will in many ways be neutral for Haringey as a whole. Crouch End ought to benefit, but there will then be an empty building in Wood Green.
As for the business rates - if I were Mountview I would negotiate on that point. Taking on the maintenance of a white elephant might very well be considered a quid pro quo for not paying rates. If I were them I would ask the question. This might be a good deal all round - but as a council tax payer I'd like to know the terms before the lease is signed.
There are so many changes to the rules I'm not even sure who actually collects business rates - is it Haringey or central government?