Backlash against Hornsey Town Hall hotel bidder

PUBLISHED: 17:11 12 October 2016 | UPDATED: 17:26 12 October 2016

Haringey have chosen a preferred bidder for the historic hall.

Haringey have chosen a preferred bidder for the historic hall.

© Nigel Sutton email

A huge community backlash is gaining force against Haringey council’s plans to turn part of Hornsey Town Hall into a hotel.

More than 1,000 protesters in just 48 hours have signed a petition against the recommended bid from a Hong Kong developer to convert the building into the hotel, private houses and community facilities, including a cafe and arts centre.

The petition demands that Haringey Council rethink the deal with Far East Consortium International Limited (FEC), stating: “Haringey have chosen to consider as their favoured option a luxury boutique hotel under foreign ownership.

“Local reaction has understandably been one of considerable dismay. Combining the loss of valuable jobs in the creative industries, the arrival of a hotel in a location with no obvious demand, and tax-haven domiciled ownership, public opinion is firmly opposed to Haringey’s plan.”

Two Labour politicians have also added their voices to calls for Haringey’s Labour-run council to rethink the deal.

Catherine West MP and Cllr Joseph Ejiofor both expressed deep concerns about the proposal being put before Cabinet next Tuesday.

Cllr Ejiofor, who represents Bruce Grove, said: “I believe there could be some embarrassment if this council takes an immediate decision that runs contrary to Mayor Sadiq Khan’s concerns regarding overseas investors.”

His comments referred to last week’s announcement that the Mayor was launching an inquiry into overseas property ownership and it’s impact on London’s housing crisis.

Also speaking to Broadway, Ms West focused her criticisms on the low provision of affordable housing in the deal. She said: “It would be really good to see an element of affordable housing that is a bit more ambitious than four out of 128 units.”

She acknowledged that the council were faced with difficult choices as a result of austerity and the great expense required to refurbish the hall, but added: “The planning permission was given a long time ago and land values have gone up quite significantly in the intervening years – I would like to see that reviewed.”

Other councillors responded with a robust defence of the offer on the table.

Member for regeneration Alan Strickland said: “Income from the new housing and hotel is essential to fund the multi-million pound restoration of Hornsey Town Hall. We recognise the concerns that have been raised about affordable housing and this is something we will look at with the preferred bidder if this is agreed by cabinet next week.”

Chair of planning Natan Doron pointed to recent GLA data showing that Haringey is the only London borough to have met a 50 per cent provision of affordable housing completion. He said: “We need to look at this issue within the context of Haringey. Affordable housing is a huge priority but not the particular problem we were trying to solve with the town hall.”

The petition can be found here.

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