Crouch End councillors attack developer's plan for Hornsey Town Hall
PUBLISHED: 15:02 10 August 2017 | UPDATED: 07:51 11 August 2017
A trio of councillors has launched a scathing attack on a developer's plans to regenerate Hornsey Town Hall.
The Crouch End councillors expressed “strong concerns” in an open letter to the firm applying to transform the Grade II*-listed building into a hotel and arts centre.
In the letter – signed by councillors Jason Arthur, Natan Doron and Sarah Elliott – Far East Consortium (FEC) are warned support for its plans depend on concerns over the Town Hall’s restoration, arts centre and lack of affordable housing being addressed.
After shock figures revealed FEC stand to make a £22m windfall from the development – which includes the construction of 146 flats on the site – the gang of three demanded a detailed breakdown of how much would be spent on restoring the building, currently on English Heritage’s at-risk register.
The letter adds: “The absence of concrete proposals for the Arts Centre have been a source of frustration to us and members of the community”, before urging FEC to share its vision soon and show it is “a top priority”.
On affordable housing the letter – delivered on Wednesday – includes a threat to withdraw support entirely unless it is added to the scheme.
Defending the letter, which has caused a stir on social media, Crouch End cllr Natan Doron said: “Some of the responses are from people who thought we should never have gone to procurement. Some of our critics want to run the Town Hall themselves. But the restoration will cost tens of millions of pounds and that means you need a partner with access to that kind of money.
“Whatever disagreements we may have with our critics about the best approach, our focus has always been on getting the town hall restored and accessible to the community.
“We still think that’s possible. There’s been progress in some areas but there’s more work to be done in others, which is why we sent the letter,” he added.
Asked whether the move was politically motivated ahead of next year’s local elections, Cllr Doron said: “There’s always elections. We always know we serve at the privilege of the people of Crouch End.
“All politicians know they will be judged on their record at the ballot box. We promised we would deliver on the future of the Town Hall. Most people in Crouch End just want to see a decent outcome.”
Cllr Jason Arthur added: “As a cabinet member it was appropriate to support the procurement process. As a ward councillor my responsibility is to listen to the concerns people raise.”
Commenting, Crouch End Neighbourhood Forum’s David Winskill said: “It’s a really good letter. It reflects what people have been telling the Forum since the search for a developer was launched. We now have an opportunity to engage with our councillors to see where we go from here.”
A Haringey Council spokeswoman repeated the authority’s ambition to see Hornsey Town Hall restored and its future secured through “a scheme that respects the building’s cultural heritage, offers community access to its important historical spaces and unlocks its potential as an arts venue”.
An FEC spokeswoman said the firm is considering the letter and will respond directly to the councillors.