Builders finish first block in controversial Hornsey Town Hall development
- Credit: Archant
Developers have finished construction work on the first of several residential apartment blocks at the former Hornsey Town Hall in Crouch End.
Earlier this month, Far East Consortium (FEC) held a “topping out” ceremony at the five-storey Uren building, named after New Zealand architect Reginal Uren, who designed the Town Hall.
FEC was granted planning permission in 2017 to construct 146 homes – 11 of which would be affordable – and a hotel.
Campaigners against the plan said arts activities and dozens of small businesses which operated out of the Town Hall might be priced out if it was taken out of public control.
Labour MP Catherine West received more than 1,000 emails about the issue and over 6,600 people signed a petition.
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Residents suggested the council should just sell the car park for development, then use the income to restore the Grade II* listed Town Hall.
They also complained that a public asset was being sold off and only a small amount of the resulting flats would be considered “affordable”.
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One-bedroom flats at the development will cost more than half a million pounds.
FEC said its development would bring Hornsey Town Hall “back to its former glory”.
As part of the deal, FEC must restore the town hall and provide a new arts centre.
FEC has set up a special purpose vehicle to deliver the Hornsey Town Hall development, called Crouch End (FEC) Ltd, registered in Mayfair.
According to its latest accounts, Crouch End (FEC) Ltd’s parent company is Shevlock Ltd, registered in the British Virgin Islands.
Shevlock’s parent company – Crouch End (FEC) Ltd’s “ultimate controlling party” – is FEC International Ltd, registered in the Cayman Islands.
The development’s most recent accounts – filed in January 2021 – said the Hornsey Town Hall project was £1,272,200 in deficit.
But among the sums which led to that calculation was an outgoing of £9,064,200 in “amounts owed to group undertakings” – meaning, payments to other companies within the group.
The accounts said the development was being bankrolled by FED International Ltd, which had pledged to continue covering the bills for another year.
FEC told the Ham&High: “FEC confirm that we comply with all Company House and accounting requirements.”
“Crouch End (FEC) Ltd, which covers the residential development, is registered in England and Wales and is UK tax domiciled.
“Thus, we pay UK corporation tax on development profits on completion when residents move in, at which point we will move to a positive accounting position.”
Pre-sales of the properties at the development were said in the latest accounts to be “strong”.
By the end of 2019/20, the company was holding £3,356,151 in deposits from buyers.
An FEC spokesperson told the Ham&High: "We hope that the local community will embrace the steps that Far East Consortium has taken to future-proof this landmark site."
The Ham&High asked those who raised concerns about the development whether they now embraced the project.
"There is still a hell of a lot of residual community anger," said David Winskill, formerly of the Hornsey Town Hall Appreciation Society.
“It’s going to be a great relief to residents that the end of the construction phase is in sight and they will start to see fewer lorries and concrete mixers trembling down the street.
“However, the five-storey blocks that now dominate this little bit of Crouch End will be a lasting reminder of a lost opportunity, not just for Crouch End but for all the people in Haringey who are desperately in need of social housing – and also for the arts community, which was thriving in the building before the sale to FEC.”
Mark Afford, chairman of the Crouch End Neighbourhood Forum, was more positive.
“There was opposition before it was approved but it’s a different position now,” he said.
“The residential development was an enabling development, in order to get sufficient funding for the restoration of the listed buildings. We hope that the restoration is on time and will be completed as the plans suggest.
“It’s happening now, so we want it delivered well, on time and in a way that attracts more custom to Crouch End town centre.”