Hornsey Town Hall sale must be looked at again, watchdog says

Protesters, including small business owners, at Hornsey Town Hall. Photo: David Winskill

Protesters, including small business owners, at Hornsey Town Hall. Photo: David Winskill - Credit: Archant

The momentous decision on the sale of cherished Hornsey Town Hall has been halted in its tracks and the cabinet told to think again

Haringey Council’s watchdog scrutiny committee said on Tuesday the 125-year lease must be reconsidered.

The cabinet recently voted to sell the town hall, the green space at the front, the annex and the car park to Hong Kong developer Far East Consortium International Limited (FEC).

It plans to turn the Grade II* listed building into a boutique hotel, with an arts centre and café.

The sale has galvanised thousands of residents. An online petition calling for the decision to be reversed, by the Hornsey Town Hall Appreciation Society, reached more than 6,600 signatures.

There were significant concerns over the “negligible” affordable housing, with only four units planned, and about whether the sale was good value for money.

While FEC promises to invest £27m to restore the building, there were questions about why there were no public costings on the value of the land.

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The council’s watchdog has told the cabinet to think again at its meeting next week.

It has been asked to talk with FEC about extending the affordable housing provision.

Cabinet members must consider offering support to small businesses which are in the building, as part of the current arts and community offering.

The council should reassure residents that they will actively make sure that the green and town hall remain publicly accessible.

The Town Hall was recently re-opened to the public as an arts centre under ANA Arts Projects.

Clifford Tibber from the Hornsey Town Hall Appreciation Society said the town hall must remain a space for creating new ideas. He said: “An arts centre is not just about the consumption of art, It is also about its production and creation.”

Cabinet member Cllr Alan Strickland said: “It was good to discuss Hornsey Town Hall in more detail and set the record straight about some of the misinformation. We have a strong plan to secure the future of Hornsey Town Hall with £27million investment to deliver a new arts centre, community space, restaurant and hotel and we will look closely at recommendations that have been made.”