Ministry of Sound takes over Hornsey Town Hall

Charlie Sharp writes, –

Imagine the Ministry of Sound taking over Hornsey Town Hall

Or the nightclub Heaven, or the Camden club Koko. You might think this would make the W7 rather busy on Friday and Saturday nights, and not what the Council had in mind for Hornsey Town Hall.

This is, of course, ‘fake news’, so the residents of Hatherley Gardens can breathe again. I just made up that headline to get your attention. Not your attention about the possibility of an unfeasibly giant night club in Crouch End, but about the ‘spin’ that has been put into the financial viability assessment that FEC, who are Haringey Council’s chosen developers, have submitted as part of the planning application.

So where does the Ministry of Sound come in? Well, on page 17 of the viability report, it’s mentioned together with Koko, Heaven and The Grand, Clapham. The Public Halls and proposed community spaces in Hornsey Town Hall (HTH) measures 34,000 sq ft of space: the same as these big clubs. The rents for these clubs are compared and the case is made that FEC should be able to earn as much from HTH as the Ministry of Sound pay – well over £500,000 per year! Even FEC admit that cannot be correct, so they suggest a lower ‘community centre’ rental. That still is around £200,000 a year.

But here comes the ‘fake news’ from FEC. Because they can only charge the lower figure, not the £500,000+, FEC say they are ‘subsidising’ HTH. In an article in the Ham&High last week the FEC representative quoted that subsidy as £391,000 per annum. Let’s be clear, no money changes hands in this subsidy.  It’s just the gap between a price they could have chosen with one they actually think they can get away with. You might think they would leave it there – but no, more financial ingenuity is on the cards. They then capitalise the ‘subsidy’ as a loss over a period of time as amounting to over £4 million. They then say this ‘value foregone’ reduces their profits so they cannot build social housing!

After all the kerfuffle with the planning release, we hear FEC are going to come back with some clarifications and changes. Well we can help them, and unlike expensive consultants, do it for free. The rent the developer will need to charge for the public areas in HTH is not that of the Ministry of Sound – it is £0. Nothing, nada, zilch, zero. Only then is there a chance HTH will be viable as an arts and community centre. They can also dedicate some of the profits from the hotel to a real subsidy to help the arts centre pay rates, utilities and core staff.

Whatever your views on the rights and wrongs of Haringey going down the developer route for Hornsey Town Hall, it cannot be right that the developer treats the Council and borough residents to extended spin in its financial figures. If the development is to go ahead, they have to play fair.

CENF has mapped out a brief guide to making planning comments – and do visit the planning website to see the full application, and start the conversation with your neighbours about this plan. Please do speak to us at CENF as well, so we can gather the widest range of views.

2 Comments

  1. Elly Chalmers

    Excellent article. I hope the planners see through the flannel, accounting shenanigans and pressure from on high and assess this application in its rather limited merits.

    Reply

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