HTHAS Trigger The ACV

HTHAS have triggered the moratorium period granted by the legislation that describes Assets of Community Value (ACV). This gives the community the right to launch and present a bid for Hornsey Town Hall any time ahead of the deadline of 14 September 2017.

We share LBH’s concerns for the best outcome for the Town Hall. However we live in uncertain times and, having done a considerable amount of preparatory assessment, we feel it only sensible to place this community option on the table should FEC decide that circumstances no longer work for them. In many ways, this is an insurance policy.

You will appreciate that, given the huge public support for the AS, we feel rather obliged to help keep all available options open.

We intend meanwhile to contribute as best we can to FEC’s community consultation and project development.

HTH – Update With What We Know

Well, we met with Far East Consortium representatives (the almost-leaseholders and hoteliers) and have the following to report. Their website for the project (www.restoringhornseytownhall.com)  is newly launched and the newly released Community Use Agreement is linked on it.

It’s fair to say we have many questions; also fair to say we all expected we would have many questions at this stage, but their plans don’t seem very advanced.

Lots to talk about, but not much to chew on. Lots of “considering”, not much “absolutely”.

There is as yet

  • no convincing vision to the Arts Centre,
  • no flesh on the community use and access element,
  • no solidity around financial sustainability,
  • only suggestions that the workspaces – 70-odd small businesses, remember – would be rehoused somewhere.

Specifically around the Community Use Agreement – which is intended to specify the access guaranteed for community and creative events inside Hornsey Town Hall: to be honest it’s a pretty vague bit of boilerplate work – even FEC said we wouldn’t be impressed.

From here on, it all depends on how “considering” turns into “absolutely, guaranteed”.

We’re sat at the table – mostly thanks to you – and will be pushing for what the community have told us they want. That’s our job, then. More as we get it.

Have a look at our website for better detail: www.hthas.org.uk. It’s been a bit of an information vacuum for a while, but now that some form of engagement is on, there will be more and more often.

We want to make sure we represent your views in our meetings with FEC so please let us have your feedback, easy through the website!

 

Thanks

Hornsey Town Hall Appreciation Society

HTHAS Meet With FEC

Dear All,

After a long wait, we had a meeting with FEC on Tuesday in their new role as preferred bidder for Hornsey Town Hall. There is much to be said – and commented upon – as an outcome of that meeting, but we thought it would be in everyone’s interest to get a few crucial points up on the site as soon as possible.

Here’s a bunch of what they said. This list has been cleared by FEC as we thought it would be best to ensure there was no misunderstanding, and to the extent these are clear commitments they are now part of the public record.

Headline points:

  • The launch of the website is imminent restoringhornseytownhall.com
  • The website will contain a copy of the Community Use and Access agreement recently signed by Haringey and FEC.
  • Community consultation will take place from April until June 2017. Yet to be completely firmed up, it will include leafleting; the presence of a community hub within the Town Hall; and a community post box. Drop in sessions will be available.
  • There will be a steering committee set up approximately 6 months before completion of the works. It will include representatives from 7 key stakeholder including HTHAS but the exact format is yet to be designed.
  • There are no plans for any public meetings outside of the consultation events. FEC is exploring a Community Advisory Group which local organisations can nominate a member to. This will be active during the consultation phase.
  • FEC are due to meet with Haringey planners in mid-April and expect to submit a planning application in the summer. They hope the application will be granted in time for work to commence in the second quarter of 2018. We do not yet know what form the planning application will take. We raised our concerns about the existing planning permission and their plans to amend it.
  • Once started the work is expected to take just over 2 years during which time the Town Hall will be closed.
  • An independent operator will be appointed to run the Arts Centre and community space. Talks are ongoing.

With regards to the plans, we were told that:

  • There will be a hotel in the East wing and it is felt that the increase in events at Alexandra Palace will generate demand. The inclusion of a hotel is non-negotiable and will create the revenue to cross fund the existence of an Arts Centre. The hotel will be 50-60 rooms and occupy some 20% of the existing site, though definition of “20%” is yet to be confirmed. FEC said they would confirm this once possible.
  • There will be a common main reception which will double as reception to the Hotel as well as the Arts Centre
  • There will be some flexible, ad hoc space available for working and a feasibility study to look at more permanent workspace provision is underway
  • The courtyard at the back of the building will be converted into a restaurant for the hotel to which the community will have access
  • FEC are considering increasing the number of affordable residential units from the existing 4 but we do not know how many more are being considered
  • Initially the residential units will not be offered to overseas investors and FEC do not anticipate allowing them to be used as serviced apartments
  • There are no plans to affix prominent signage to the frontage of Hornsey Town Hall
  • FEC is particularly keen to hear public feedback on the design of the square.

Haringey Council and FEC Sign Agreement on HTH

Here’s the text:

Wednesday 15 February 2017
The multi-million pound renovation of Hornsey Town Hall and square – including a new arts and community centre and careful restoration of the historic Grade II* listed building – has been guaranteed.

Haringey Council’s agreement with developers FEC, which has now been signed, secures the future of the iconic landmark in the heart of Crouch End, with:

  • A new arts centre, with community access and café/restaurants
  • Complete restoration of the ageing building, removing it from the national Buildings at Risk register and improving it for modern use
  • Improvements to the Town Hall Square, with continued public use
  • A boutique hotel
  • New housing and landscaping

FEC (Far East Consortium International Ltd) are working alongside developer CoPlan to develop detailed designs for the Town Hall, and will appoint a specialist arts centre operator to ensure the building remains a vibrant creative hub.

The agreement between the council and FEC guarantees continued public access to, and use of, many parts of the building including historically significant spaces such as the assembly hall, foyer, council chamber, supper room and committee rooms.

FEC will take forward the ongoing discussion with local groups about community provision and have committed to setting up a steering group, including representatives from community organisations, once the building has re-opened.

Restoration is expected to start in early 2018 and follows a decade of joint working between Haringey Council and the residents’-led Hornsey Town Hall Creative Trust (HTHCT) to secure use of the building and square, and revitalise this part of Haringey.

Cllr Alan Strickland, Haringey Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Regeneration and Planning, said:

“The significance of this agreement can’t be understated – it guarantees Hornsey Town Hall for future generations to enjoy, with millions of pounds of investment and complete renovation of one of north London’s best-loved landmarks.

“We know how much Hornsey Town Hall means to local people. We share their passion, and I’m delighted that this contract means we can restore and future-proof the building, safeguard Hornsey Town Hall Square and ensure residents can continue to enjoy top quality arts and community events in the heart of Crouch End.”
John Connolly, Head of Development at FEC, said:

“We’re really pleased to have signed an agreement with Haringey Council to deliver the complete refurbishment of this iconic Grade II* listed building.

“Our ambitious vision is for a restored Town Hall complete with a new arts centre, improved public square and a new café/restaurant to offer residents new community space.

“We’re looking forward to working with local residents, community groups and businesses to ensure that together we can deliver a scheme to make Crouch End proud. We look forward to announcing further details of our programme of community engagement.”

Hornsey Town Hall Creative Trust said:

“The sensitive restoration and refurbishment of this much-loved, iconic and nationally significant architectural gem – while ensuring as much public access and use as possible – has been the raison d’être of the HTHCT throughout its 10-year existence.

“It is very exciting to have, at last, reached a stage here the funds will now be available to take the project forward. The Trust’s commitment to ensuring a very high quality refurbishment and surrounding development, together with an exciting mix of community and arts uses, remains unwavering.”

 

Here’s the link: http://www.haringey.gov.uk/news/secure-future-hornsey-town-hall

Where’s ANA?

 

HTHAS Write to Jeremy Corbyn In Response to His Remarks on Tax Havens and Public Assets

HTHAS have written to Jeremy Corbyn (ex Haringey Councillor, MP for our neighbouring North Islington constituency and Labour leader) to ask him to try and get Haringey to suspend the sale of HTH and have a re-think (our letter below).

Earlier this week, in a speech about the public sector’s relationship with overseas companies registered in a tax-haven (like the Caymans) Jeremy announced that if Labour are elected, “No company will receive taxpayer-funded contracts if it or its parent company is headquartered in a tax haven. “

If you agree and want him to intervene in HTH, you might want to drop him a line with copies to Claire Kober, Jason Arthur…and us!

Continue reading

A way to save a town hall – Winskill Makes the Observer

The following from Mr Winskill’s letter published in the Observer on New Years Day:

Chris Currer is absolutely right when he says of the disposal of Hornsey town hall that “Haringey council’s choice seems to hinge mostly on the money” (“Cities paying the price of austerity”, News).

The tragedy is that there is a workable and sustainable alternative that this doctrinaire-driven cabinet refuses to discuss – a community asset transfer to a trust. This would allow full restoration of this wonderful building, the provision of social and affordable housing, community use and an arts centre, as well as relieving the council of its cost. Instead, it has gone for the luxury housing and boutique hotel model that will impress their developer chums but cut no ice with the thousands of homeless families in Haringey who will be spending the holiday season in temporary accommodation.

David Winskill
Hornsey Town Hall Appreciation Society and CIC, London N8

FOI Request re: Income Derived from HTH – Update

Many weeks ago HTHAS decided to test Haringey’s claim that one of the main reasons for the sell-off was that any council facing government cuts on the scale confronting Haringey cannot afford to spend money on keeping the Town Hall Open. It is a mantra that they have been repeating for eighteen months and is one of the fundamental justifications they give for the now almost signed, sealed and delivered disposal to FEC.

Without a doubt it is true that the cuts are brutal and that the £350k figure it costs Haringey to run the building is reasonably accurate.

But how much income do they receive (rent, box office cut, antenna rental, film and TV shoots) that goes towards offsetting this £7 000 a week spend?

We have had a reply to our FOI and here is the answer: FOI Request re: Income from Hornsey Town Hall

So, on the basis that they have to ask a 3rd party how much money they make from activity in Hornsey Town Hall (don’t they know?), Haringey have so far decided not to tell you, dear reader, how deep you actually have to dig into your pocket to keep the dear old Town Hall open! Could it be that the income/expenditure equation nearly balances? Or that they are perhaps even making money?

If the claim, made repeatedly at Overview and Scrutiny and at Cabinet, proves to be false, can we all expect a new year retraction and apology?

Please please please – keep the pressure up on them and keep writing with questions, requests for justifications and begging them to pause the sale (Crouch End Councillors)

This battle to save this North London jewel and the heart of Crouch End, to provide social housing, small business spaces, and a proper arts centre is not over and the Appreciation Society will continue campaigning to the end.

We hope you’re with us.

From the Appreciation Society  …  A Very Merry Christmas and A happy New Year.