HTHAS Open Letter Asking For Mayoral Call-In

The following letter to Dean Hermitage, Planning Dept at LBH:

Dear Dean Hermitage,

There is currently a suite of planning applications under consultation for Hornsey Town Hall (see the list at the foot of the page).  We, the Hornsey Town Hall Appreciation Society, believe that this is a development of strategic importance and should have been referred by Haringey for Mayoral consideration.  We further believe that the nature of the application, and the context within which it sits, mean that Haringey, as Local planning Authority, should approach the Mayor for a direction under section 7 of the The Town and Country Planning (Mayor of London) Order 2008 to the effect that the Mayor should in this case replace the Local Planning Authority. 

Our reasons for requesting the referral are:

1) the scheme anyway qualifies for referral because of the number of habitable units proposed. There is no definition in the application how the ‘hotel’ will work. There is no reception and no dedicated catering. It does not look like a hotel. There is nothing in the application to prevent the future sale of these units to investors. Therefore the 67 self contained living units inside the Town Hall should be treated as potentially permanent homes, and when added to the 146 dwellings in the enabling scheme, bring the scheme beyond the 150 needed for a mayoral call in.

2) Hornsey Town Hall is a building of real significance, listed Grade II*. Every scheme ever put forward for the Hall has described it as an ‘Arts Centre for Crouch End, the borough and beyond’, and the designated buildings preservation trust is calling for a “world class renaissance’. Haringey’s assessment  of the scheme as purely local, thereby excusing an Environmental Impact Assessment, feels wrong, and suggests that it will be difficult for the planning department to remain objective in the current context.

3) Under category 3E of the Mayor of London order 2008, the application should be referred because:

·         it fails to meet affordable housing targets (policy 3.11)

·         it removes much office space currently in use, where there is a demonstrable demand for more – ANA has a waiting list for such space (policy 4.2)

·         it heavily weights what should be a mixed use development in favour of residential (policy 4.3)

·         both the hotel at 2,689 sq metres, and the D1/D2 use at 3,162 sq metres, exceed the specified threshold of 2,500 sq metre.

The reasons for requesting that the Mayor replace the LPA are:

1) Under section 3(a) of the order this scheme does not achieve a sufficient level of affordable housing;

2) Whilst Haringey has plans for higher levels of affordable housing in future developments it is not currently achieving the necessary level;

3) The scheme is in breach of the terms of the OJEU procurement bid, in which it was stated that an earlier planning application would be implemented with only minor amendments. This 2010 permission had 4 units of affordable housing. This does not meet the overall Haringey target for affordable housing. The applicant has now stated in a completely new application, that there will be no affordable housing. There are further breaches of the OJEU agreement, including the dropping of the 4* hotel, and the creation of an Arts Centre, for which no business plan has yet been provided;

4) Under section 7(1)(c) of the 2008 Order there are sound planning reasons for a call-in. The LPA must not only remain impartial, but must be seen to be impartial. Crouch End’s councillors have now published an open letter which suggests a state of disorder in respect of the application, which needs to be rectified. Haringey’s cabinet has twice voted for the scheme in the face of call-ins. Disciplinary action against Labour councillors involved in a the call-in sets a context in which it will be very difficult to select a neutral and objective planning committee to consider the application;

5) There are a number of factors in the Mayor’s Supplementary Planning Guidance “Homes for Londoners” published this month, which point to the need for a call-in. The councillors open letter makes clear that the ward councillors have not examined the viability figures and were unaware of the assumptions the developer was making. The figures in the Economic Viability Assessment have , by chance, become public, which is fortuitously in line with the Mayor’s guidance. However these figures have been seriously called into question for a number of reasons, including, but not limited to:

·         inappropriate comparators for sale prices which refer to Muswell Hill and Hornsey, while prices in Crouch End are higher

·         inappropriate comparators for rental income – it is absurd to suggest that Hornsey Town Hall is in anyway comparable to the Ministry of Sound, yet a notional rent greater than that of the nightclub has been used to calculate the community use subsidy

·         vague references to the proposed investment in the restoration of the Town Hall – while the headline figure of £27m (sometimes quoted as £29m) appears impressive it may well be that around £13m of this is actually being invested in building the hotel.

We therefore believe that the scheme should now be referred for mayoral consideration and that the mayor should replace Haringey as the LPA. .

While this request is addressed to the Head of Development Management at the London Borough of Haringey we propose to publish it as an open letter on various websites, and to send a copy to local newspapers, the Mayor’s office and others of influence.


Hornsey Town Hall Appreciation Society

HTHAS Open Letter Re Mayoral Call-In

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