Hornsey Town Hall to become hotel in spite of thousands calling for another way

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

Plans to develop Hornsey Town Hall into a hotel were approved by Haringey Cabinet on Tuesday, despite an impassioned last minute plea from campaigners

Hong Kong developer Far East Consortium International Limited (FEC) now has the green light to transform the grade 2* listed building into a boutique hotel.

It will also deliver an arts centre and café or restaurant.

Hornsey Town Hall Appreciation Society made its case at the beginning of the meeting and presented a petition which had reached more than 2,300 signatures.

Clifford Tibber led the calls for a re-evaluation of the deal. He said: “The old man of Hornsey must live. But not in a straightjacket of foreign investment, living in a hotel by himself with no merriment and mirth. He must live on as a centre for arts, culture and nascent businesses. Pause, reflect, consult and then think again.”

Cabinet members thanked him for his contribution but - as expected - voted in favour of the plans.

Cllr Alan Strickland was the busiest person in the Civic Centre, handling a range of questions from campaigners and councillors.

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He responded directly to Mr Tibber, saying: “We do want to bring the town hall to life… we’ll have plenty of mirth and merriment I hope but also a building that is secure for the future and that does work financially.”

He acknowledged the groundswell of public opposition to the council’s choice of preferred bidder, saying: “I recognise the strong community interest and strong community concern. And my inbox certainly recognises that, too, in recent weeks.”

Muswell Hill Cllr Mark Blake said that the poor provision of social housing assigned by the current planning permission reflected the fact that it was drawn up before the accession of a Labour Mayor. He argued that it should be rethought in light of Sadiq Khan’s commitment to tackling the housing crisis.

“The mayor has changed but the building hasn’t,” said Cllr Strickland. He was equally unequivocal about offshore ownership concerns. He said: “What I’m worried about is securing the future of the town hall – where that money comes from I’m not particularly bothered about.”

Cllr Jason Arthur added: “In the context of where we’re seeing our budget cut by 40 per cent... unfortunately the council just doesn’t have the financial capacity to bring the building back up to its former glory and also maintain it.”