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The full list of documents to be submitted to the planning committee which will consider FEC's* planning application can be found on this Haringey Hornsey Town Hall Planning Committee Agenda page.
There is a lot of documentation on this page. Here we can barely scratch the surface of it. Let's continue by looking at the Conservation Officer's contribution (it starts on page 3 of Appendix 4).
35. The degree of harm has been assessed as per the NPPF and NPPG and it is considered that the proposed development would not cause total loss of the conservation area‟s significance or its setting and thus is quantified as „less than substantial‟ as per NPPF.
But I think she's got her knickers properly in a twist. She refers to paragraphs 132 - 134 of the National Policy Planning Framework (NPPF) which deals with the loss of significance to the heritage asset. So her assessment is actually of the wrong thing. And the paragraphs say, inter alia "Where a proposed development will lead to substantial harm to or total loss of significance of a designated heritage asset, local planning authorities should refuse consent", which leaves the matter open to subjective assessment. Is having its insides ripped out and replaced with a hotel, substantial harm to HTH? Is having a wonderful event venue (the Supper Room) turned into a factory for the film industry substantial harm? Is having massive tower blocks completely obliterating views of of the Town Hall and the library from something more than 180 degrees , substantial harm? A lot of Crouch Enders think so. We can agree with our conservation officer that there is not a total loss of significance, but that is not the test she should be applying. Total loss of siginificance is an alternative reason to refuse, if the harm caused goes beyond substantial. Which, I assert it does.
And then in paragraph 51 she writes
It is extremely important, however, that the delivery of the Town Hall is phased and closely tied in with the delivery of the residential development so that appropriate capital required to undertake the works to the Hall can be generated from the sale of the residential blocks. This should be agreed legally as part of a Section 106 agreement.
No, dear, I really don't think so. The reason our poor misguided councillors are getting into bed with a multi-billion dollar property developer, with its headquarters in Hong Kong, registered for tax purposes in the Cayman Islands and currently marketing a development in Manchester, off-plan, to wealthy investors in China, is precisely because they have already got access to that capital (one suspects their may be other reasons as well, but we can't prove anything). This proposed 'constraint' needs to be completely reversed. Let them sell the residential and make their profit, who knows what obstacles might crop up to prevent the completion of the refurbishment. Why the UK subsidiary responsible for the work might make all that profit, pay it over to the owners in dividends, and then go broke. Try suing them for completion then. The refurbishment must come first.
Something is oiling the wheels of this planning application, which has compelled the conservation officer to turn the reasonable arguments offered by 700 Crouch Enders on their heads and come up with approval for the scheme, and carte blanche to clear off with the profits. I have no idea what that something is, but when I first thought of the 'oiling the wheels' metaphor I had WD40 and something mechanical in mind. I'm thinking now more of KY Jelly, and I fear it is we the burghers of Haringey who are getting burghered. This disposal of a community asset for next to nothing, except a bit of TLC for the Town Hall is still a bad deal.
Sorry, I should find a new image, but I think this one shows substantial harm to the setting of the heritage asset Hornsey Library, substantial harm to the setting of the heritage asset Hornsey Town Hall, and substantial harm to the setting of the Crouch End Conservation Area.