In advance of the Hornsey Town Hall sale we have been working for months to put ourselves in a position where
- We have a mandate to represent the community
- We have assembled the knowledge and expertise, and have learned the lessons from previous initiatives, to build a project that meets all Haringey’s objectives
- We have created the Hornsey Town Hall Community Interest Company to promote a community solution in partnership with developers
We have formulated both a plan A and a plan B. Given the way the world works, there’s every chance we’ll need plan Q as well.
- Plan A was a call to Haringey to consider the transfer of the Town Hall into community ownership. This was based on a petition which achieved the necessary 2,200 signatures to trigger a full council debate which will take place on November 23rd. Clearly these campaigners are people of considerable resource and sagacity. Make sure you pack the council chamber for the full Haringey council debate on 23rd.
- Plan B assumes that the full council does not withdraw the OJEU juggernaut, and that the disposal process progresses to the subsequent stages. At this point the crusaders plan to participate with any or all of the developers and to bring in an alliance of community groups under the umbrella of the Hornsey Town Hall Community Interest Company.
To forge this alliance we held a meeting in the Town Hall on Sunday 15th November, attended by roughly 50 traders, individuals, community groups and local businesses, which began by observing a minute’s silence to mark the killings in Paris.
The meeting was addressed by Catherine West MP (Labour, Hornsey and Wood Green) who is overtly supportive of the group’s ambition. Her hopes for the site go well beyond Haringey’s insistence on some community access, with the current uses forming a basis for a burgeoning future. She also sees the site as being able to provide affordable housing, where the Haringey proposals simply see it as a cash cow for themselves and the developer. Catherine’s own words are at the foot of this page.
The Town Hall has a 20 year history of unsuccessful attempts at disposal. The meeting was fully informed of this and updated on the most recent developments as set out in the decision to adopt the onerous OJEU process. The group was also informed of the proposed timetable to complete the tendering and the important steps along the way.
After these presentations the entire meeting had a busy and informative question and answer session. Obviously the way forward is not clear. There is no knowing at this stage how many developers will make bids, how the Town Hall refurbishment will fit into any development, nor indeed how far the development will change the interior of the Hall.
But, given the uncertainty over what will happen, and the very considerable satisfaction that exists around the present, interim, use by ANA, the meeting gave the Appreciation Society a very powerful mandate from a wide range of groups to press on with the formation of the umbrella group as a negotiating team to treat with interested developers.
If you or your community group (choir, sports club, residents’ association, book club, etc, etc) want to get behind this movement , you can still sign the petition, attend the full council at the civic centre, or add your name to the list of those supporting the Appreciation Society’s efforts (email to hthappreciationsociety@gmai
Catherine West MP said; “the Hornsey Town Hall Appreciation Society are doing an excellent job of demonstrating why it’s so important that the community are at the heart of any regeneration of Hornsey Town Hall. A thriving, vibrant arts scene has developed out of the building and it’s essential this isn’t lost. I was pleased to speak to arts and community groups on Sunday and offer my support for their plans. I also talked about my wish to see a not-for-profit organisation, such as a housing association take on this site and a minimum of 50 per cent affordable housing in any development, as we need homes that local people can afford to live in”