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:


The consortium is made up of Tishman Speyer, Bioregional and Ethical Property Company, with award-winning Fielden Clegg Bradley as architects.

Tishman Speyer is an experienced developer and manager of premier residential real estate assets around the world, having developed more than 5,000 residential units worldwide, and with 7,800 more units in the pipeline. Tishman Speyer has has extensive experience redeveloping historically significant sites, including the Rockefeller Center and Chrysler Center in New York; and The Economist Plaza and Tower Place (adjacent to the Tower of London) in London.

Bioregional is an award-winning social enterprise with over 20 years’ experience of delivering exemplary built environment projects around the world. Bioregional works with public and private sector partners to create places which enable people to live, work and do business within the natural limits of the planet. Bioregional has  endorsed 11 ‘One Planet Communities’ globally, including two in the UK and is  best known for the iconic BedZED eco-village in South-West London.

The Ethical Property Company is a unique social business, managing commercial property that supports the work of some of the UK’s most dynamic and influential charities and not-for-profit organisations. Ethical Property own and/or manage a total of 24 centres across England, Scotland and Wales, providing office, event and retail space and IT support to over 1,000 organisations each year. The Ethical Property Company is committed to using their buildings for the benefits of their communities and ensuring their buildings are financially and environmentally sustainable.

Tishman Speyer, Bioregional and Ethical Property Company will position Hornsey Town Hall as the epicentre of social and economic life in Crouch End by developing the building into a centre for arts, local business, a restaurant & cafe, and continuing community use. We will ensure the building becomes financially self-sufficient and no longer requires ongoing subsidy from Haringey Council.

In the town hall the proposal will offer community and commercial space. Ethical Property Co will run 20,000sqft of workspace for local SMEs, start-ups, social enterprises, charities and third-sector organisations. The proposal will offer two cafes/restaurants at ground level. Ethical Property Co. will manage an Arts Centre Partner – preferred solution would be a collaboration between Alexandra Palace and ANA. It will offer a permanent exhibition and heritage tours. Most spaces in the Town Hall will be available for hire – for weddings, rehearsals, talks, films, parties, conferences and meetings. As well as ticketed, private events, the building will continue to be available to host large, free community events, such as the Crouch End Festival and Christmas celebrations.

The proposal is for a faithful restoration of both Hornsey Town Hall and Broadway Annexe to emphasise their original civic importance, return them to their former architectural glory and ensure their removal from Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register through beneficial use. It will fund restoration and refurbishment through development of a One Planet Community to the rear of the town hall. We propose development to similar scale and massing of the consented scheme, designed, built and operated using the ten principles of One Planet Living. The homes will be truly zero carbon with space for food growing, and built using low-impact materials like timber. At One Hornsey, it will nurture high-quality, low-impact, community-oriented lifestyles.

18 Replies to “The Other Bidder for Hornsey Town Hall”

  1. This proposal looks like it was written to appeal to those in Crouch End who have been most active, at least on social media, in relation to the future of the Town Hall which begs the question as to what it is that the Chinese owned hotel is offering that this bid did not. Any chance of anyone getting that info from the Council?

    1. We have today sent a request to to Council and officers asking exactly that (and all sorts of other detail). I think our feeling is it all came down to money, though community use and access was to be the single biggest element of the evaluation.

  2. The council has a statuary requirement to get the best possible price for the building as it is answerable to the tax payer. It is almost certainly the case that despite the alternative bidder promising more to crouch Enders this will have been offset by a lower bid. A petition at this stage might force the council to be more transparent in this process…it might even sway their decision if the difference in monetary terms is not absolutely persuasive. But is there time to do this?

  3. If community use and access is to be the single biggest element how can anyone top the above proposal?! It sounds fantastic! Doesnt make sense that a 500 bed hotel could somehow offer more? What is going on here? How can the council get away with this?

  4. HTH needs to be a hub for the whole community – on many levels. A Chinese owned hotel doesn’t cut it – nor luxury apartments (Crouch End is already becoming a haven for ‘the haves’, and youngish corporates and bankers.

    Why are the bids of Tishman Speyer, Bioregional and Ethical Property Company not being considered? How can we get the Council to change its mind?

    The building was and is meant to be used for and by the community – ethically and culturally – and if it can be used creatively, with the right intention and social enterprise, it will thrive. A mini South Bank or Arts Centre in Crouch End?

  5. I have no idea what the tender terms were for HTH, but it is normal these days to score public bids, not just on who has submitted the highest price, but also on what the development will offer the community, how well the assets will be managed and on other criteria such as historic building conservation and the financial standing of the bidder.

    It would be interesting to understand on what basis the winning bid was accepted. Maybe a Freedom of information request?? Or the local MP can help?

  6. How can Haringey go ahead with a bid which many of its residents would not agree with? Can we get a petition going to force them to give their reasons for choosing a Far East company over this company who seem to be looking at the whole project in a more organic way?

  7. If it is sold to the fast-buck developer I will sell up and leave the area, as it will lose it’s local character and village atmosphere, and all trust in the Council will evaporate. What a shame, Haringey, you are such a terrific council in so many ways. Please don’t allow this to go through and throw away what is left of your integrity.

  8. Further, a short term gain in a higher selling price will not neccessarily bring a higher revenue in the long term, just more pressure on the community resources, more pollution, excessive use of local amenties, and unwanted touristy attractions such as fast food outlets… and with a directorship and shareholders far removed from local interests other than high returns.

    Please accept the Tishman Speyer, Bioregional and Ethical Property Company bid and preserve the unique and extraordinary quality of the building itself as well and the area.

  9. It seems strange to me that a Labour Council is able to follow a less socially minded path. This judgement seems to be in line with their acceptance that the site has “good” transport links with a PTAL (Public Transport Accessibility Level) of 2/3, whereas everybody living in Crouch End knows it is poor. See TfL website for PTAL.

    I can imagine that the facilitating housing development will happen as this is where all the money is but what assurances are there that the restoration of the Town Hall will happen atall and if the “asset” is held overseas how will anybody be able to enforce any action.

    I’d be interested to learn whether the local ward councillors voted for the hotel option. I’m also surprised that there wasn’t some sort of public presentation by each of the developers to gauge the views of the local community.

    I anticipate there will be strong local reaction to this, albeit that after more than 10 years people are very jaded. Is there anything that can now be done to affect the decision?

  10. I am happy to spread the word to friends and colleagues and to help get petitions signed and social media profile raised. Is there a letter or document that you would like forwarded? Something with strong action points so that we are all speaking from the same page? Maybe between us we can aim for some of the higher profile Crouch Enders? There are some very successful businesses in the building now and if we can provide them with an easy to use piece of ammunition they may have time to included something in their social media links? Just an idea.

  11. A key issue is transparency.. the fact that everything is not out in the open is a blunt insult to all of us. There is also the interesting question of what will happen to the ‘Green’, now looking seedier than ever, in front of the Town Hall. In earlier sketches this seems to have virtually diappeared. It is noticeable that no contribution to design has been asked of the residents either.

  12. we’ve heard a great deal about the FEC in the last fortnight or so but I have a very simple question the answer to which would be of interest to very many locals: apart from providing less profit, what did Haringey council reject about the other bidder? I’ve read and re-read their plans and suggestions many times and feel that financially and morally they would be welcome

    1. Hi Sally,

      According to the Cabinet papers, the “other” bid was rejected (aside form the financial offer) because:

      Planning – the unsuccessful bidder was proposing an increased scale of
      residential new build on the site which carried greater planning risk.

      Legal – the unsuccessful bidder was not providing a guarantor for the
      on-going operation of the building, therefore there was no guarantee the
      town hall would be open to the public or in use at all. The Developer‟s
      involvement would cease once works are completed and homes sold,
      which did not provide any security over the long term viability of the town

      On the planning issue, we have received advice from Planning Aid for London that the hotel would require a new full planning application. That seems to make the Planning issue a draw.

      On the legal issue, it’s a bit hard to untangle. If the hotel needs a guarantee, does that mean it’s not good enough to stand alone? Or is it just welcome added security? Can you enforce a guarantee against a Caymans-registered entity? If the “other” bidder were to cease involvement because they found a financially solid operator, would they need a guarantee? Should they have gone out and got one just for safety? Did they miss that trick?

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