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HTH change of use - #HTHbaddeal #HTHStitchup

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.
I've looked through the officer's report and it skims quite quickly over 'change of use' as a topic. There is perhaps the hint of an implication that the already consented scheme also required a change of use, and that might be considered a precedent, but then that was 7 years ago, before ANA started letting office space in the Town Hall. When that permission was granted no effort had been made to find an offcie use for the offices in the Town Hall. Now there are very many successful businesses based there. Haringey Policy demands that to justify a change of use, from office space to anything else, there must be evidence that the office use is not viable. In this case of course, the office use id massively viable, and has been since ANA took over. 
The officer's report does not address this policy objection to granting change of use.
My illustration is completely fanciful, as is the officer's recommendation.
CHANGE OF USE / EMPLOYMENT AND LOCAL ECONOMY
The application requests material change of use across significant areas of the Town Hall (principally the East Wing and Link Block) from B1 business use to C1 hotel use.
1. Policy DM40 of the Local Plan stipulates conditions for the granting of change of use of non-designated employment land and floorspace, requiring the applicant to demonstrate that the site is no longer suitable or viable for the existing use. The policy clearly sets out the requirement for clear and robust evidence of an open and recent campaign to market the site covering a minimum continuous period of three years (also explanatory para 6.27). Though a mixed use development is planned which includes community infrastructure, the policy requirements are not met in this application as no evidence for redundancy is presented. 
2. The present use of the East Wing and Link Block is reported to include 70+ small businesses with a waiting list for work spaces. This appears to demonstrate that B1 use is in fact viable with a strong level of demand. Accordingly therefore we would expect a very strong presentation from the applicant to establish that the site is no longer suitable as per existing use class. (Note: Policy SP8 and the London Plan seek to require consideration and support for the type of small business and open workspaces currently housed in the building).

3. The figures contained in the applicant's Viability Assessment include presentation of the costs and revenue from both hotel and office use. An evaluation of business type use and a comparison between hotel and office use are therefore possible and confirm that continued B1 use is entirely viable under current market conditions (*see footnote).
4. HTH is a listed building. Policy and good practice, as set out by Historic England, the NPPF, the London Plan, and Haringey’s Local Plan (DM9) require that when new uses are found for historic assets that they provide for a viable and sustainable use going forward and that impact on the significance of the asset is limited. Changes of use are supported should the original or current use be declared non-viable. The change of use is not however evidenced.

5. In conclusion, although the proposed siting of a hotel within HTH is not an objectionable use of the building and appears to meet the requirements for a listed building, the case for change of use has not been proven. Business type use appears equally viable. Furthermore the large scale conversion of areas of the building to hotel guestrooms is not without risk (unlike simply fitting out the spaces for the current use). If the hotel fails to provide a long term future for the building, we are left with a white elephant. 

Consequently, 
(a) without a clear demonstration or evidence of the need for a change of use, and,
(b) with a presentation of figures by the applicant which appears to confirm that the existing use is viable, 
   – a change of use to C1 should be refused.

( *Footnote:
Figures on office use and the comparison of value between office use and hotel use, as presented by the applicant in the Viability Assessment:
The applicant proposes a capitalised value for the hotel of £15,243,617
The capitalised value of office use for the same space would be £10,446,600
(estimated net internal area of the hotel at 23,000 sqft and a figure of £30/sqft for office use, capitalised at 6.50%)
= shortfall of £4.8m
The cost of construction of a hotel above and beyond that of simply providing a basic refurbishment appears to be in the order of £12.7m (by comparing construction costs in the benchmarking exercise). 
The cost of shell and core refurbishment to office spaces in the East Wing is unlikely to be more than £2m.
= uplift of £10.7m
Therefore providing office space instead of hotel gives -
Cost saving of £10.7m minus revenue loss of £4.8m = increased profitability of £5.9m

In conclusion the applicant’s own Viability Report appears to establish that the value of providing office space on the site is actually greater than that of a hotel. )

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