#HTHBadDeal – Legal review of the sale of Hornsey Town Hall – *Part 2*

A big thank you to everyone who contributed to our call for funds to pay for a legal opinion on whether we have grounds to launch a Judicial review into Haringey Council’s disposal of Hornsey Town Hall.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/hthbaddeal-part2/

 

The advice we have received is that there is a chance that the Courts might be persuaded to interfere with Haringey’s decision to grant planning permission. We feel it is only fair to afford our supporters the opportunity to take that chance but to do so we need to raise £20,000 very quickly.

We are therefore now asking you, your neighbours and friends to back the launch of a Judicial Review by contributing to the fighting fund and help us to raise the £20k in order to be able to cover all costs of a full judicial review. Please contribute what you can but most importantly share this page with your friends, neighbours and colleagues on social media and email.

We will only bring proceedings if we reach our target. If we do not reach it then your donation will not be taken from your card.

This is the last chance we have to stop this disposal. Haringey could have delivered so much more for those on the housing waiting list, for our small businesses, for our arts and for our community.

Please contribute and share this page urgently!

Do we have a say in what happens in the Town Hall square?

An artist's impression of the Town Hall Square

The Crouch End Neighbourhood Forum has published a blog on the future of the Town Hall Square. We know what the big picture is – Haringey has sold the square to a private developer. Whatever we may think of that decision we are where we do seem to be.

The CENF blog raises a lot of questions – for instance, how long will we be without a Twon Hall Square while the landscapers, JCBs and pile drivers have access?

But I think the thing that most gets me riled up is the proposed retention of the BT urinals, which now serve no communications purpose , and exist only for drunken calls of nature, BT advertising revenue and the recitation of poetry once a year at the festival

The forum has called for the full involvement of the public in discussions as to how the square should develop.

“The Forum believes that this is Crouch End’s civic space, and as a matter of principle public consultation on design, function and management of the square is required.

An artist's impression of the Town Hall Square
An artist’s impression of the Town Hall Square

Planning Problems for the Hotel?

Recall that one of Haringey’s three pillars for preferring FEC/CoPlan and the hotel was planning risk.

According to Haringey’s Cabinet Papers, “the bid not being recommended proposed higher residential buildings to the rear, requiring a new planning application

While the “bid being recommended aims to work with the existing planning arrangements

It seems the planning bit might have been optimistic…according to Planning Aid for London any change of use to a hotel will indeed require full new planning.

 

Below the text of our letter to Haringey and the advice from Planning Aid for London: Continue reading “Planning Problems for the Hotel?”

The Other Bidder for Hornsey Town Hall

October 4th

The Other Bidder for Hornsey Town Hall

HTHAS welcomes the news that we are nearing the restoration of this much loved but neglected building and that it will soon be taken off the Historic England At Risk register, but there are substantial unanswered questions about the process and the choice of bidder.

Haringey plan to sell a 125 year lease to Coplan Estates and the Far East Consortium (FEC), the owners of Dorsett Hotels. FEC are a Hong Kong based company registered in the Cayman Islands, a highly leveraged business with a track record of fast asset turnover, quickly disposing of completed projects.

The other bidder in the running was a consortium led by Tishman Speyer, BioRegional, and Ethical Property Company. We were invited to meet with them during the bid development stage to convey and clarify the community’s aspirations for community use and access in any future for Hornsey Town Hall.

Here is the summary of their proposal to Council: Continue reading “The Other Bidder for Hornsey Town Hall”

Hornsey Town Hall – Future Bright?

Hornsey Town Hall – a future not so brightYou heard the rumours, you saw the press release (and our response) and the sale of Hornsey Town Hall moved a lot closer. It seems Crouch End may soon be luxuriating in a boutique hotel. Or not.

HTHAS welcome the long awaited restoration, but in a long history of perplexing council decision making, this one is right up there.

hthac-falling-down

Haringey are planning to dispose of the Town Hall and Square to property developers Coplan Estates and Hong Kong based Far East Consortium, registered in the Cayman Islands, and subsidiary Dorsett Hotels.

The project, we’re told, is a 55 room hotel based in the East and West wings of the building – currently occupied by numerous small local businesses, who will be making other plans. The back lot becomes a residential development, with plans for the Square unknown. The “arts centre” shrinks to the Assembly Hall.

The initial decision to agree the bidder will be made at Cabinet on October 18th. Although as they’ve already sent out the press release, you’d be excused if you assumed it’ll be rubber stamped.

A Bidder

Do we see the positive in all this? Well, we like hotels too – but in Crouch End? Have these people never heard of airbnb?

FEC, a highly leveraged company, boast on their website of a business model based on short term investments, quickly disposing of completed projects.

Their Dorsett subsidiary run 300 room complexes – so how does a small hotel in Crouch End fit into a portfolio of luxury hotels pursuing the ‘Chinese Wallet’? Search us. Even Haringey’s own market testing in 2014 failed to find justification for such a venture – although one clue may be the admission that the company see this merely as a stepping stone for a larger hotel at Alexandra Palace.

Have the council adequately assessed these risks? Unfortunately we’re told only the property consultants GVA were retained to do this work. Which is a little embarrassing as GVA’s own website confirms their close and fruitful partnership with the other developer in the bid, Coplan Estates. Which steers perilously close to a conflict of interest.

A Solution?

It seems Haringey are blissfully unaware of the concerns surrounding overseas property speculation in London. Given that the hotel could change hands before a paying guest sets foot in the place, how does that square with the council’s aim to “secure a long term future for Hornsey Town Hall”? If a hotel fails, what then?

And as we’re asking questions – if the council are only now starting the “detailed discussion about the community space and arts provision” what exactly did they base their decision on? The bidders were supposed to have worked that out already.

Perhaps the last word should be for the future of the 74 businesses and 130 people that are based in the Town Hall. These are the kind of local businesses and creative enterprise that are supposedly supported through both Haringey’s own policies – and that of the London Plan and Mayor Sadiq Khan. Alas the council’s choice seems a missed opportunity to find a project of real value to the local economy.

So, are we too cynical and dismissive? – Or are you still picking up your jaw off the floor? Why don’t you let the council know.

Crouch End councillors –
jason.arthur@haringey.gov.uk
natan.doron@haringey.gov.uk
sarah.elliott@haringey.gov.uk

Leader of the council –
claire.kober@haringey.gov.uk

Cabinet member for Housing Regeneration & Planning –
alan.strickland@haringey.gov.uk

  • Feel free to demand the secrecy ends and full details are released
  • Request to see the justification for choosing FEC and Coplan
  • Demand to see the community use and access offers of the final bidders
  • Express your concern about the long term future of the Town Hall
  • Insist that the council supports workspace for local businesses
We’ll see how things develop

 

Continue reading “Hornsey Town Hall – Future Bright?”

Hornsey Town Hall – what next? – Oct 9th 2015

https://hthas.wordpress.com/  @saveHTH
hthappreciationsociety@gmail.com
Thanks for signing our petition!

Dear HTHAS supporter

Did you think signing the petition would be the end of the story for you and Hornsey TownHall? No no, far from it. We wanted to let you know what’s happening, and (of course!) ask a couple more things of you.

Doing these things will bring you a warm glow and possibly fame.

  1. Vote for Hornsey Town Hall in Time Out’s Love London Awards. Winning will bring a whole heap of publicity to our campaign to save the building for the community
  1. Are you free on Friday 9th October (this Friday!) at 10.45am? If so, come to a photo call outside the town hall. We have journalists and photographers from local papers coming down to cover our story and we’d love to give them a sense of the mass of supporters we have backing the campaign. Bring placards! Get your face in the paper!
  1. Has everyone you know signed the petition? If not, get them to do it now!
  1. Are you a lawyer, a venue operator, business planner? If you can give us a few hours of your time, we need your help to put together our future plan. It’s coming on well but having more professionals to cast an eye would be good. Contact us at hthappreciationsociety@gmail.com
  1. Are you from a community or arts group? We want to bring as many groups into our campaign coalition as possible. Please get in touch if you have – or want to have in the future – an interest in the town hall.

You can also read Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West’s letter to the Ham and High newspaper in support of our campaign here.

We are now pursuing two parallel routes. We’re still trying to persuade Haringey Council of the merits of Community Asset Transfer. We hope when we get to 2,200 signatories on the petition, we can trigger a Cabinet debate on the issue. At the same time, we are looking at how we engage with the OJEU process.

OJEU is the procurement process by which Haringey is going to sell off the town hall and green, and the land behind it (on which flats will be built). If the council won’t transfer the asset to us, Plan B is to negotiate this with developers so community benefit is assured in the long term through community ownership. Our Vision Statement sets out what we are trying to do and why.

Don’t forget to check out our website, join the facebook group, follow us @saveHTH andshare all this as widely as you can. #saveHTH

Thanks again for signing the petition,
Hornsey Town Hall Appreciation Society


Click on the image to read Catherine West MP’s letter to the Ham and High about the HTHAS campaign