Hornsey Town Hall April 2024 update

Well folks, things are now very overdue indeed – but we’re told the tide is at last turning at HTH. Read on. If there are any questions feel free to pop them in the box below.

   Images credits: FEC, Make architects

Timetable

A crucial milestone for the project, Practical Completion is set for mid-May. [SEE EDITS BELOW] Subject to last minute hiccups one imagines, but the first time we’ve had a date discussed in public. Another milestone too – booking has opened for the hotel, rooms available from July. [OR NOT]


EDIT April 21st:  Did I say mid-May? Perhaps mid-June is better. Oh, and the hotel opening has slipped a month too. Now August. Stay tuned for other late changes.

EDIT May: Did I say mid-June?  … oh forget it, no one has a date anymore. And the hotel opening has slipped another month. Now available from September.


So, if the build is complete, when will Hornsey Town Hall open? See below, it’s a a rough estimate of the future timetable (do note the forthcoming fit-out timetable is rather important). Meanwhile, I should admit, we’ve sure been wrong before…

NB. FEC Far East Consortium/developers; Ardmore/contractors; Dorsett/hotel operators (FEC subsid); Time+Space/arts centre operators

2024
| March | Hotel handover commences to FEC/Dorsett; hotel bookings system opens
| April | Annex affordable flats handover to Haringey
| April | Community Use & Access Steering Group established
| April/May | Snagging, operational testing, reviews
| May | HTH Square completion & handover to FEC
| May | Arts Centre & restaurant spaces handover
| May | Project sign offs, incl. Historic England, Haringey planning (?!)
| May | Practical Completion of development (Ardmore Construction depart)
| May/June | Town Hall Gardens completion and handover
| July? | Arts Centre Advisory Board established; Artistic Director appointed
| July? | Arts Centre fit-out begins
| July | Hotel soft opening
| July/August? | Arts Centre phased soft opening (front sections)?
| October? | F&B opens around TH Square

2025
| Q1 | Arts Centre grand opening (Assembly Hall complete)
| Q1? | Public Highway works (section 278) by Haringey

Informed guesswork?


A BRIEF PROJECT ROUND UP
Development Outlook

Obviously the extensive delays are extremely disappointing, but hopes grow. Clearly they’re confident enough to open hotel bookings.

Difficulties persist however, and queries have been raised over an arts fit-out which is both delayed and undefined, and complex: careful project management of multiple consultants and contractors is necessary. Furthermore, a very real risk arises over outstanding planning submissions to discharge conditions, many of which are pre-occupation requirements.

Both Haringey and Historic England have yet to sign things off.

A timetable for launch and communications strategy appear absent.

A phased opening is said to be a possibility, with the front spaces (foyer, council chamber, committee rooms etc.) opening late summer, well ahead of the main theatrical halls. We give a cautious welcome to this – if it can be achieved without damaging the launch timetable, without affecting the viability of the arts centre, and if the eventual opening of the full arts offer is assured.

The Restoration

The restoration appears to be progressing to the high standard demanded by FEC, Historic England and Haringey, though it would be good to have a more detailed report and a post mortem appraisal. There are questions remaining of course – not least the approval of a Conservation Management Plan currently sitting with the planners – and a final push to complete (for example doors, clocks, brickwork, painting the flagpole…).

There’s a film too:  https://youtu.be/oOUy6m8nmxc

The Square

Well, the turf was laid in 2022, the front bit opened in 2023, and we’re now just weeks away from a completed new-model square. We await news of the restaurateurs selected for the pavement cafes. NB. Barclays is not part of the FEC scheme and may stay closed for the foreseeable.

Certain items are not in place, not least the period lighting and a fix for the lawn damage, but also the paperwork connected with the space: for example the ‘Public Space Access and Management Plan‘, is a section 106 requirement that covers the “plan for the management, maintenance and servicing of the Public Access Area” i.e. the Square.

Other outstanding items include the health of the trees on site – the badly declining chestnut in the middle of the Green is known to be diseased (for some time, its twin was removed in 2016), so we’d support felling and replacement with a healthy specimen at this stage. Sorry.

Looking ahead, all operational details of the Square are unchanged: it will of course be entirely publicly accessible. The maintenance and day-to-day management is in the hands of the TH estate management team (provided by Brunsfield), and events on the space will be controlled by the Arts Centre operator, Time+Space. Alas an Events Programme is still some way off.

There was notable progress recently in the appearance of The Broadway strip of public footway and its resident clutter when two of the revolting phone kiosks were removed. Let’s hope for more.

It’s also worth keeping an eye on the secret garden round the back too: Town Hall Gardens, a publicly accessible space also due to open this summer. We await its use and access policy, the operation of the gate to the library square, confirmed provision for events, etc.

Arts Centre

The old TH public rooms are designed as an arts centre/venue. Additional space will form co-working accommodation (do enquire at the ‘Hornsey Exchange’ Broadway showroom).

Unfortunately things have slipped and the operators will have to re-tender for fit-out contractors. Delays appear inevitable and once procurement and mobilisation are done, we’re still looking at an additional 6 months fit out for the Assembly Hall. No details yet on actual fitting out programmes or layouts. A Building Management Plan and operational details of the Arts Centre are likewise outstanding, as is the appointment of an Artistic Director.

Alas, the scenario suggests the arts centre won’t emerge for sometime. A soft launch in an incomplete building may be possible in the late summer, but the grand opening looks like early 2025 and a full artistic programme not until the end of that year.

Community Use

People will recall that HTH’s commitments to community use and access is agreed within the terms of the lease between Haringey and the developer. This requires a Community Use and Access Steering Group which will form shortly, probably. Meanwhile, the ‘Community Use Plan‘ for Planning is outstanding (a s106 pre-occupation commitment which identifies further community use and access arrangements). Community hire rates, set at a level below private hire, are yet to be set.

In the wider sense, no clarity yet on how the AC will work with the local Crouch End community in terms of cultural placemaking, alongside events such as the Festival, or whether the AC will act as a patron of local community creative activity.

Hotel, Hospitality

The 68 room ‘Dao by Dorsett Hornsey Town Hall’ is open for bookings! The hotel occupies the old administrative blocks of the TH.

Hospitality, in the form of three restaurants, two bars, and a café, await their own sub-leaseholders and operators. Such things do of course require their own fit-out, perhaps 2 or 3 months.

Residential

The main residential buildings are now complete, with the final flats above the Annex to come. We believe Haringey will be offering some units on a ‘London Living Rent’ basis.

9 Comments

  1. Charles Kingsley

    Thanks for the update and context of this town centre development. This sort of update is hard to find anywhere else. While there sound like still a lot of loose ends, I really appreciate that you note: “The restoration appears to be progressing to the high standard demanded by FEC”. So often value engineering can drive projects of this scale, it’d be nice to have this be an exception.

    Reply
  2. John Russell

    I own a flat in the square

    Reply
  3. Joel Northcott

    Mark, was there any more news on the upgrade of the small section of the Broadway by the council by the square? Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Mark Afford Author

      ‘Fraid not, no news. We will push for improvements asap.

      The front of the Square is part of the section 278 highways improvements around the whole of the site due to be carried out by Haringey (as I suspect you know).

      Reply
  4. Sarah Montgomery

    If the refurbishment or “improvement” of the square is anything to go by, I am less than hopeful for the rest.

    Reply
  5. amanda carrara

    Mark, I understand planning has been refused for the newly created HTH gardens at the rear. For what reason and is this a problem in your opinion

    Reply
    1. Mark Afford Author

      Yes, and elements of the TH Square too.

      The problem appears to be in the quality of the planning submissions: Ardmore have failed to present a coherent rationale for various changes from the original scheme.

      For example the ground level in the TH Gardens was lowered, thus improving things for the neighbours who felt overlooked. But Ardmore’s people failed to mention this. So now, as things stand, they may have to return to the higher (previously approved) ground level. I’m not sure the neighbours fully grasp this. It’ll be worse for them.

      In another example the decisions behind the revised lighting arrangement in the main Square has also failed to find planning approval. Despite having being built already. Indeed, one can’t help but notice all this stuff is now built – so they’ll have to figure out a new planning strategy…

      In the meantime Ardmore continue to press on to complete their build and clearly intend to depart asap, despite leaving behind a chaotic situation with planning. FEC face a “difficult” situation (in their words). I’m not sure they’ll avoid the lawyers, and I’m equally unsure whether a satisfactory Practical Completion can be found at this point.

      Reply
  6. Jacqui Osley

    What is to be done about the ‘natural path’ which seems to have evolved by people walking diagonally across the grass to get to Hatherley Gardens

    Reply
    1. Mark Afford Author

      We’ve been told to expect some kind of re-design. Beyond that, I have no details. Perhaps they’re waiting for ideas. It’s not as if such defects hadn’t been pointed out almost from the outset.

      We’re also waiting for the period lighting, the public access plan, the street furniture details…..

      Reply

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