Advisory Panel Report – November 2004

In 2004 an advisory panel put some time and effort into producing a report for Haringey council. This group documented its proceedings in this 2004 Future of HTH Advisory Panel Report. The executive summary of this report is reproduced in full below. The report itself is well worth looking at it contains a list of the very extensive community representation that went into its production, and the very good advice they sought from a number of advisory and grant funding bodies, as well as meeting with others who have carried out similar tasks in the past.

Executive summary
Haringey Council has given notice that it intends to relocate its staff from Hornsey Town Hall in 2005. The Council’s Executive Committee considered the future of the building and surrounding site in February 2004, and in response to substantial public concern and interest in the future of the complex, established our panel to advise them on community needs and aspirations.
Through our work we have become aware of the importance of this building for local people, as a geographical centre for Crouch End, as a physical resource, but also as a focus of community feeling, helping to define the particular characteristics of this part of the borough. It is also apparent that HornseyTown Hall is not just a resource
for Hornsey and Crouch End, but for the whole boroughand wider community of north London, and is of national architectural significance.
Over the past eight months, we have worked closely together to arrive at a shared vision for Hornsey Town Hall: a building restored to its former glory as a vibrant and viable centre for Crouch End and the wider community, providing a range of artistic, cultural and educational facilities, with the package underpinned financially by appropriate commercial uses and development. We urge the Executive to adopt this vision.
At the same time, we considered the risks inherent in seeking to achieve this vision:
the constraints imposed by the building itself, and its listed status; the Council’s current and increasing maintenance liability, the finances needed over time for full restoration and adaptations for modern uses.
We welcome the position of the Council as expressed to us; that the site should be dealt with as a whole; that community aspirations should be recognised while taxpayer liabilities are minimised; and that proceeds generated from the site should
be used for restoration. The Executive should confirm this position.

Unsurprisingly, there are a range of views on how our vision for Hornsey Town Hall might be realised: One position argues for the whole project to be taken forward by a charitable trust, separate from the local authority, overseen by trustees; another that a private developer, subject to appropriate safeguards for community interest, would be best placed to drive the development.
The way forward
We considered carefully the risks and benefits of the different approaches. We suggest, as a possible “middle way”; that appropriate commercial and non commercial capital could be harnessed in partnership with the Council and the community in a “tripartite” approach, working together with an appropriate charitable trust, to develop a high quality scheme, and that longer term community interests should be entrusted to such a trust. Our recommendations are set out on page 5.
It is now for the Executive to decide on an appropriate way forward, balancing risks and benefits, and acting in the best interests of the local area, the wider community and the authority.

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