Hornsey Town Hall May 2023 update

It may not have escaped your notice that things at HTH are running a tad late. So we thought a brief round up would be in order, this is after all the most important development in the area for decades – yes, even more important than Co-op turning into Sainsbury’s.

If there are further questions feel free to pop them in the box at the foot of the report. Stay tuned, as they say.

   Images credits: FEC, Make architects

Timetable

We’ve been given a rough estimate of dates by FEC and team – but please treat with a good degree of caution. Don’t quote us. In essence it would seem openings are now more than two years overdue, an unfortunate state of affairs in a town centre experiencing reduced visitor footfall. We need this development sooner rather than later, whether to bolster the local economy or to make real a local cultural renaissance.

2023
| June | TH Square partial completion, front section opens
| June | Community Use & Access Steering Group (arts centre) established; Arts Centre Advisory Board established.
| end June | Hotel & restaurant handover to Dorsett, fitting-out begins.
| end July | Arts Centre handover – for 6 month fit-out
| Q4? | TH Square completion & handover to developer
| Q4? | Practical Completion of development
| December? | Arts Centre partial soft opening
| December? | Hotel opens
 2024
| February? | Arts Centre grand opening?
| Q1? | Public Highway works (section 278) by Haringey

So, at best this means a Christmas opening – if they can square off outstanding planning commitments in record time. Fingers crossed.


Development Outlook

Obviously the extensive delays are extremely disappointing, though we learn that the contractor, Ardmore Construction, now believes they will vacate in 12 weeks time, leaving behind a slimmed down team to complete.

But difficulties persist. Queries have been raised over project management which faces a complex period of fitting out, with multiple firms working to the designs of multiple consultants. Furthermore, a very real risk arises over outstanding planning submissions to discharge conditions, many of which are pre-occupation requirements (some pre-commencement!):

  • A dreadful possibility, which must surely be avoided, is that we’ll see HTH itself follow the same pattern as the Square – finished, but unable to open for months and months.

The restoration is hopefully progressing to the high standard demanded by FEC, Historic England and Haringey, though we know little. NB. Among the outstanding submissions is Planning condition 15 (for the LBC), ‘Heritage Management & Maintenance Plan‘. It is due to be prepared by Donald Insall Associates. Hopefully we will also see a post mortem appraisal of the restoration work.


The Square

It is now a year since the turf was laid and finally the opening of the green is set for June/July (and recall we’re only talking about the front half of the Square, the fountain end remains behind a wall). Yes, that’s another delay, though confidence in the date is rising.

Some explanation is necessary. The problems with opening the space have largely arisen between construction company, Haringey’s planners, and the developers, FEC, who collectively have failed to agree on the discharging of planning conditions (e.g. you may recall the issue over surface paving materials last year). Consequently the space – until now – has not been signed off for opening. Be nice to see it for the summer.

Meanwhile, Ardmore are preparing a submission to planning which seeks permission for non-material amendments for the changes to the Square. This will, we’re told, affirm that period-design lights will furnish the TH end of the space, agree street furniture designs, and that the seating backs will be reconstructed to be higher. In other words it should fix things. We’ll see.

The TH end of the space (around the fountain) remains behind hoardings for construction access until the completion of the project, so some time away yet (think Q4). We note the ‘Public Space Access and Management Plan‘, remains outstanding (a section 106 requirement). This commitment covers the “plan for the management, maintenance and servicing of the Public Access Area” i.e. the Square.

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 is little progress with the design of The Broadway strip of public footway and its resident clutter. Lest we forget, the hope originally was for a de-cluttered space with improved movement and permeability, holistically designed with the Square to attract people into the HTH development and its surrounding restaurants and venue spaces. Meanwhile, as reported earlier, Haringey are campaigning for the removal of the phone boxes.


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).

We learn the tendering for fit out is complete and contractors are on standby. It is expected to take 26 weeks. Theatre Projects and Studioshaw Architects are consultants. No details yet on actual fitting out programmes or layouts. A Building Management Plan and operational details of the Arts Centre are awaited. Indeed, the absence of confirmed availability suggests an artistic programme won’t emerge for sometime.

So, a soft launch may be Q4, and the grand opening may just be Christmas, but 2024 is increasingly likely. Again, this is our estimation of available information.

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 in June, 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, continue to be unavailable.

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’, which occupies the old administrative blocks of the TH, will be handed over slightly earlier than the arts centre to undergo its own fit-out.

Hospitality, in the form of three restaurants, two bars, and a café, await their own sub-leaseholders and operators. There is interest, we are told, but until an HTH opening date is confirmed you wouldn’t expect prospective tenants to commit.

Residential, landscaping

The Uren building is now occupied and the completion of the Ayers building is expected shortly.

Landscaping work is currently being completed in the courtyard area lying between the resi blocks and the rear of HTH. TH Gardens next. NB. Further detail is required about TH Gardens – its use and access policy, the operation of the gate to the library square, provision for events, etc.

9 Comments

    1. MBH

      Henry’s Hall (after Henry Reader Williams)
      The Kinks Klub

      Reply
  1. Nedguy

    Re. the ‘Public Space Access and Management Plan‘, I’ve asked several times on social media, but never been answered. Is the square no longer a public space? Is it to be a faux public space ruled by commercial security guards. Who will decide what can and can’t be done there? Political rallies or protests for example? Will it be a public space for the purposes of filming & photography. In short, is it still ours?

    Reply
    1. Fortior quo paratior Author

      Both.
      The square was sold as part of the site to the developer, FEC, by Haringey in 2017. FEC have legal responsibility for the space and will manage security and maintenance through a contracted estate management company.

      But… the agreements with FEC include an assurance that the space will be open and accessible at all times to the general public. Although obviously part of it will feature pavement cafes, and occasional and temporary events (tba).

      In terms of use, any planned event would have to approach HTH Arts Centre for permission – they are, after all, liable if something should happen. The rules for photography for instance may be covered in the Public Access Plan. I guess we’ll find out.

      Appreciate your final question, but no, it isn’t ours. Haringey sold it.

      Reply
  2. Barry Curtis

    Presume there will be a security force that will police activities – lying on grass, modes of playing, meetings, etc. Selling the ‘village green’ to a private multinational property company was inexcusable – the Councillors involved should be publicly commemorated on a memorial plaque.

    Reply
  3. DebraKim

    As a local resident right by the green let’s hope ‘events’ are kept to a bare minimum as they are noisy and invasive and we can’t just walk away when they disturb us

    Reply
  4. DebraKim

    Also the green was originally designed as a ‘green space’ ie a park for the relaxation of locals not as a commercial space for food markets and the like

    Reply
  5. amanda carrara

    Any update on the removal of telephone kiosks 3 and 4 on the square. Otherwise known as pissoirs. Removal of 1 and 2 makes a big difference (surprise!).

    Reply

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