Winskill in the Ham&High

Reflecting on the DMF, David Winskill has written to the Ham and High …

The eighty people that attended the Hornsey Town Hall Development Control Forum on Monday came with expectations of firm news about the future of the building and uses.

Reports suggest that they were disappointed.

One thing that is sure is that FEC (to whose credit have been more open in the past three months than Haringey in the past three years) are about to apply for an increase from the current generous permission of 123 luxury flats to 144 as well as a 67 room hotel. To squeeze all this in, the rear block will rise to seven floors. All this in a Conservation Area adjacent to a Grade II* gem and with worries about over-looking and car parking.

What of affordable housing on this Haringey owned land? The miserly four units granted in 2010 reflected the then value of the car park (£10m) and the condition that the developer would restore HTH (costing perhaps £14m today). The car park is now worth at least £25m so there is wriggle room for substantially more affordable or even social housing. FEC (only represented by agents) was mute on this on Monday.

Catherine West has consistently called for more and, post Grenfell, social housing has risen up the political agenda. Islington warns developers that anything less than 50% in major schemes is unacceptable – why doesn’t Haringey?

There was some comfort for the 90 or so small businesses about to be turfed out: some co-working space. Think Starbucks but with your own letter box and a photocopier.

And the arts centre? The Creative Trust’s vision was “To create a world class model of civic renaissance, an arena for all that harnesses the spirit of progress, community, creativity and enterprise for future generations in Haringey, London and beyond”.

FEC’s planning consultants seem more modest in their ambitions: “The use is not considered to be of more than local importance and is considered to be of significance to Crouch End area only. The scheme is principally intended to respond to a local identified need for community and cultural activities. “A sort of big village hall but with no hint of an operator or plan.

Monday’s meeting wanted to hear about a development with a decent (but not outrageous) profit led by a developer partnering a social housing provider; an arts centre with a vision and a sustainable business plan written by a trust with access to grant funding; and, some decent spaces for small businesses – studios and workshops not coffee tables.

Councillor elections are in May so, plenty of time to ask our FEC cheer-leading councillors whose vision they support.

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