Hornsey Town Hall plans approved by Haringey Council planning chiefs
- Credit: Archant
Plans to restore a Grade II*-listed building which saw 600 objections from the community have been given the go ahead by Haringey Council planning chiefs.
The scheme for Hornsey Town Hall – on English Heritage’s list of buildings at risk – was approved after eight Labour councillors voted in favour with two Liberal Democrats on the planning sub-committee opposing.
In Monday night’s meeting in Haringey Civic Centre the borough’s planning decision-makers heard from councillors and residents.
Those opposed claim 146 flats rising up to seven storeys at the back of the 1.3 hectare site in the heart of Crouch End will threaten privacy, overshadow neighbouring homes, increase transport demand and cause parking mayhem.
They also criticise the number of affordable homes slated for the development, set at 11.
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But supporters of the plan submitted by developer Far East Consortium (FEC) won the argument saying the scheme was not perfect but would make sure the iconic venue, which fell into disrepair after the council moved to new headquarters in the 1960s, could be preserved.
In a charged meeting, in which committee vice-chair Cllr Toni Mallett threatened to exclude the public following outbursts from the gallery, Miriam Levin from Hornsey Town Hall Appreciation Society urged councillors to throw out the plan.
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She said: “You could do so much better for Haringey. You could build a decent amount of social rented houses, not line the pockets of a tax haven developer.”
But FEC’s John Conolly argued: “We’re a UK company. We have committed to this major restoration project. It will be a significant turning point. Whilst we cannot satisfy everyone, our proposals are realistic and will secure the future of this building.”
He added flats would be marketed in this country after critics claimed the flats would end up in the hands of overseas investors.
Seven councillors joined residents speaking against the plans including Crouch End’s Cllr Jason Arthur who told the committee: “We can get a better deal. Seven storeys will harm the character and appearance of the conservation area. There’s still that little bit more to do. It’s not beyond the wit of the developer to do that.”
And Muswell Hill Cllr Mark Blake warned the committee: “If granted this will raise issues of whether we can maintain control over any of our conservation areas.”
Weston and Haringey Park Residents Association member Ruth Selig challenged the plan saying a conclusion “less than substantial harm” would be done to the conservation area by the apartment blocks was ‘unsound’ lacking ‘quantitative’ evidence.
In defence, Crouch End Cllr Natan Doron argued ‘great weight’ should be placed on Historic England not objecting to the plans.
“There will be harm, but it will be less than substantial,” he said before adding FEC had signed an agreement guaranteeing the venue would be available to the community and £30m earmarked for the restoration.
Speaking after the meeting, Hornsey Town Hall Appreciation Society member David Winskill said the council had driven ‘a coach and horses’ through its policy on conservation areas.
“Allowing seven storey blocks adjacent to a Grade II*-listed building in a Victorian town centre of two and three storey buildings means anyone now can come along to a conservation area and simply say, ‘Me too’,” he said.
But Hornsey Town Hall Creative Trust chairwoman Liz Sich said: “This is a hugely significant milestone in the life of Hornsey Town Hall.
“The multi million pound refurbishment will breathe new life into the building that will be, at last, fit-for-purpose.
“We hope the Crouch End and wider Haringey community will now come together to help make this project the success it deserves to be,” she added.
Mr Connolly said: “The planning consent is welcome news and I’d like to thank everyone who has worked with us including Haringey Council elected members, officers and local community groups.”
Haringey housing chief Alan Strickland added: “We’ve said from the start we want to see a sustainable scheme that restores and safeguards the architectural heritage of the Town Hall, offers local people access to this much-loved landmark and delivers long-term arts and culture for Crouch Enders and Londoners to enjoy. I’m delighted that we have approved a scheme that will do all that, while also bringing new social rented homes to the heart of Crouch End.
“Securing the right future for Hornsey Town Hall has been a long process, and I’m grateful to residents, to the Hornsey Town Hall Creative Trust and FEC for their ongoing commitment to the building. I look forward to seeing the plans take shape,” he added.
The project is due to be completed in 2020.