Crouch End councillors: Assure us on Hornsey Town Hall affordable homes
- Credit: Archant
After years of uncertainty and decay, there is finally an opportunity to guarantee the restoration of Hornsey Town Hall with a proposal to install an arts centre plus new restaurants and cafes for the public to enjoy this amazing building.
But more work needs to be done by the developer (FEC) to address community concerns.
Let’s set some context first. When we were elected to represent the people of Crouch End in May 2014 the future of Hornsey Town Hall was uncertain.
In May 2014 all we knew was that we had a decaying building on the English Heritage at-risk register and no partner or viable plan for restoring the building and guaranteeing community access.
There had been efforts in the past to find solutions: Mountview Theatre School were potential anchor tenants but they couldn’t make the economics of the deal stack up. It proved too expensive and difficult to pay for and oversee the restoration of the Town Hall.
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There had been various attempts to set up a community-driven solution in the past. None of these came close to being viable.
Crouch End needed solutions that had a chance of working in the real world, not just acting on ideas that sounded nice in a public meeting.
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We didn’t want to spend four years overseeing uncertainty and decay. That meant finding a partner with both the expertise and the balance-sheet capable of restoring the building and bringing it back into meaningful community use.
When officers approached us with ANA’s proposal to organise an interim use for the Town Hall, we encouraged them to go ahead because we thought it would showcase the potential of the building.
This has proved correct and ANA deserve praise for their brilliant work.
We now have a planning application from FEC to restore Hornsey Town Hall.
The application has the potential to represent a pivotal milestone on the road to restoring the Town Hall and provide the people of Haringey and beyond an opportunity to enjoy the building.
We do, however, have concerns about this application and made these clear to FEC in an open letter we sent them in August.
Since then it is encouraging that we have had an announcement on the arts operator and we urge FEC to provide further assurance through the publication of detailed restoration costs for Hornsey Town Hall.
We would still like to see FEC funding affordable housing as part of the scheme.
We also want further assurance on the sensitivity of the development and its impact on Crouch End.
Our support for the application is contingent on these concerns being addressed to our satisfaction.
Some progress has been made since our open letter but there is more to do.
FEC have time before the planning committee meeting which will decide the application to assure us and more importantly, the community that this planning application fulfils the vision of a restored and thriving Hornsey Town Hall.
* Crouch End’s Labour councillors Jason Arthur, Natan Doron and Sarah Elliott have written this column together.