Historian's last-ditch bid to save Alexandra Palace from tycoon

By Marijke Peters A HORNSEY historian is to launch a legal fight to stop Ally Pally being taken over by a property tycoon. Jacob O Callaghan is poised to challenge the Charity Commission which he believes is about to grant the palace lease to the milliona

By Marijke Peters

A HORNSEY historian is to launch a legal fight to stop Ally Pally being taken over by a property tycoon.

Jacob O'Callaghan is poised to challenge the Charity Commission which he believes is about to grant the palace lease to the millionaire owner of Oxford United football club Firoz Kassam.

He claims the order approving the move - due to be made in the next few weeks - would be illegal because it provides no safeguards for the future of the world's first television studios.


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Mr O'Callaghan said: "I want the court to decide if the lease is illegal. We need to establish whether the trustees of Ally Pally have a duty to ensure the historic parts of the palace are kept available to the public as I'm sure they do.

"I think the court will confirm that."

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The Charity Commission is expected to make a section 36 order allowing the trustees of the Alexandra Palace and Charitable Trust to hand over the historic land-mark to Firoka in the next month.

The move would give the company the green light to start transforming the building into a luxury complex with high-class hotels and restaurants.

But the 125-year lease granted to Firoka does not require Mr Kassam to safeguard the historic television studios, where the BBC made the world's first broadcast in 1936.

Last year campaigners bombarded the Charity Commission with complaints about the scheme.

Mr O'Callaghan said: "I don't think the people's palace should become Caesar's Palace.

"There is no provision for preserving the birthplace of television and that's wrong. This palace belongs to the people of London, not just Haringey, and the decisions need to be challenged at a higher level."

Keith Fawkes, chairman of the Hornsey Historical Society, said: "I hope the historic elements of the palace will be preserved, it's the home of worldwide television and if a museum can't be created there it would be an absolute tragedy.

"There may be a lack of funding but Mr Kassam should be paying for it himself - that should have been a condition of the lease and it would have been a money spinner for him."

A spokesman for the Charity Commission said: "The Commissioners who will be making this decision met on April 3 to consider the matter.

"They considered the background to the case, the points made at the meeting with the trustees and the representations received.

"There are a number of points which in their view need further clarification which will require consultation with the trustees. The trustees will shortly be approached with these further points for consideration."

broadway@hamhigh.co.uk

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