[To be introduced by the Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration. Report of the Director for Planning, Regeneration and Development] This report seeks Cabinet approval for a new approach to the Hornsey Town Hall project, including agreement of an alternative proposed procurement strategy, new capital project budget and seeks authorisation for officers to take the Hornsey Town Hall site forward to the market. A report would return to Cabinet once a preferred bidder is selected, prior to award of contract.
The Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration introduced the report which contained proposals to re-energise the Hornsey Town Hall building and bring it back into use. This required new approach to the Hornsey Town Hall project, included an alternative proposed procurement strategy, new capital project budget and sought authorisation for officers to take the Hornsey Town Hall site forward to the market. A report would return to Cabinet once a preferred bidder was selected, prior to award of contract.
The Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration mentioned the previous bid from Mount View School which following analysis of cost and capacity had not been found to be a compatible solution for both Mountview or the Town Hall going forward. The Council would be supporting this valued organisation stay in the borough. This exercise had demonstrated was a need to find a sustainable financial solution for the Town Hall.
The procurement reason was clearly set out and bidders would be expected to deliver good use of the building. The Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration further referred to the consultation undertaken by the Hornsey Town Hall Trust which had contacted 280 residents to inform the new procurement process for the Town Hall. It was clear that the bidders would need to offer community access and the procurement scoring will reflect the importance given to this.
Cllr Arthur, Cabinet Member for Resources and Culture, welcomed the report and spoke about the representations he had received as a local ward Councillor which had made clear how valued Hornsey Town Hall was to the local community and the need for it to be brought to full use. He was also committed to a procurement solution which provided community access to the building.
In response to Cllr Elliott’s question, if the procurement exercise did not produce a fully acceptable solution for the Town Hall, then there would be a re-group and consideration of either the procurement process or rethink of the strategy if necessary.
The Leader highlighted the ongoing commitment of the Council to finding a solution for the Town Hall which had spanned 11 years. This was a grade 2 listed building and it was noticeable that the capital injection estimations had gone up and the revenue cost were also high. With the Council making difficult budget choices against a backdrop of further expected government local government budget reductions, a solution had to be of a sound financial footing whilst keeping to architectural merits of the building.
Cllr Arthur reiterated that nothing should preclude an innovative solution coming forward which was financially sound .
Cllr Goldberg also referred to health of town centres and responsibility for sustainable activity in the areas to protect the viability of Crouch End Town centre .Cllr Goldberg also welcomed the involvement of the Trust in the procurement process.
Alternative options considered
The alternative options that have been considered for the Hornsey Town Hall project can be defined as follows:
· Option A - Do nothing: Without taking any action to secure a future use and developer/operator for the Town Hall the building condition will continue to deteriorate. The Council remains responsible for the on-going liability for the building and any use of the building by the local community will be limited.
· Option B - Conditional land sale: The Council could sell the HTH site via a conditional land sale agreement, however the Council would have limited control in this option to enable and enforce community access and use.
· Option C - Freehold sale of the site: Sale of the site without retaining any interest would mean the Council is unable to secure community access and use as there are no lease mechanisms to enable this.
· Option D - Dispose of land at the rear and use receipt to refurbish the building: In this scenario it is not expected that the land sale receipt would fully cover all the costs to refurbish and fit out the building for use, the Council’s on-going liability for running costs and maintenance is not removed and a sustainable operator and future use is not secured for the Town Hall.
Reasons for Decision
The Cabinet decision in April 2011 declared the site surplus to the Council’s requirements and agreed the principle for the listed building to be disposed on a long leasehold basis of 125 years term.
The Listed building is on English Heritage’s Buildings At Risk Register therefore a solution is required to undertake restoration work to the building and the Council does not have funding available to undertake these works itself. Any capital receipt from the residential development of the site is not expected to cover the full refurbishment works, fit out and also secure a partner/operator to ensure the building remains open and in use.
To ensure the building remains open and in use in the long term a partner with a long term sustainable business plan needs to be secured.
The work undertaken to date has identified that one developer for the HTH site and operator for the Hornsey Town Hall is a preferred approach as it secures both the restoration works and a long term operator for the building and is likely to bring the building back into use at the earliest opportunity. Professional advisors and the Council’s Legal & Procurement team have advised that an OJEU Competitive Procedure with Negotiation is the best way to achieve this outcome.
A timely decision on the future approach to the Hornsey Town Hall project is required to avoid further deterioration to the listed building, maximise the potential of the buoyant market to attract potential developers, remove the ongoing liability of the building to the Council at the earliest opportunity and address the longstanding frustrations of the local community at the timeframe in securing a sustainable future for the Town Hall.