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The 7 storey Planning Application at Hornsey Town Hall - #HTHStitchup #HTHBaddeal

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 start with a precedent the planning officer has chosen, perfectly incorrectly, to justify the seven storeys.

What we are looking for as a precedent is a taller building, in a conservation area, in close proximity to existing contributors to the conservation area of 2 or 3 storeys, near to the Town Hall.

The Planning Officer writes:

While the comments of local residents are noted, there are precedents for taller buildings in the Crouch End area. Haringey‟s Urban Characterisation Study (2015) notes that Avenue Heights, a modernist 12 storey residential tower with a height of 40m, is one of the tallest building in the locality. This building is approximately 300m from the boundary of the Crouch End District Centre southwest of the application site. This building is located within a wholly residential area.

Thus missing his target in the following ways:

  1. Avenue Heights is not in a Conservation Area
  2. Avenue Heights is separated from all its neighbours by substantial gardens and a wide road
  3. Its immediate neighbours are not in a conservation area and are typically of four storeys
  4. Avenue Heights was built as Eleanor Rathbone House in 1964Conservation Areas were introduced in 1967 so even if it had been in what is now a conservation area no conservation area permission would have been required for its construction.
  5. Avenue Heights is indeed 300m, quite a long way, outside the district centre. It is 643 metres on foot from the Town Hall, according to Google maps. 
  6. The Crouch End Conservation Area Appraisal specifically picks out Avenue Heights (formerly Eleanor Rathbone House) in the following reference "Unfortunately, its setting is compromised by the tower block Eleanor Rathbone House at No. 5 Avenue Road" - so by Haringey's own assessment Avenue Heights would if anything not be a precedent but a counter example.

A much more relevant precedent would have been a planning application to add an extra storey to the terrace that now houses Waterstones and Superdrug. This building is in a conservation area, it does have neighbours also in the conservation area of typical construction, and is within spitting distance of the Town Hall. The summary of the refusal of this application includes the summary paragraph:

The proposed roof extension, by reason of its size, scale and prominent location, would be out of keeping with the design and character of the existing building, and would have adverse effect on the appearance of the property and the visual amenity of the conservation area as a whole.

This for a single storey addition to an existing building, not the creation of a 7 storey block, shoe horned into just enough space between a Grade II* listed building and it neighbours. 

Something is oiling the wheels of this planning application, which has compelled the planning officer to so blatantly disregard a relevant precedent, and so wilfully select a very poor precedent for his presentation. I have no idea what that something is. This disposal of a community asset for next to nothing, except a bit of TLC for the Town Hall is still a bad deal.

*FEC is 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. This is not a planning issue.

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

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