Hornsey Arts Centre

MQT on 2016-12-14
Session date: 
December 14, 2016
Question By: 
David Kurten
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Will you call a review of the sale of Hornsey Arts Centre by Haringey Council, which is reportedly home to 74 small local businesses, which will be dislocated, and due to be sold on 18th January to the Hong Kong-based Far East Consortium, which allegedly plans to convert it into a luxury hotel and luxury flats with only 4% being affordable?


Answer for Hornsey Arts Centre

Answer for Hornsey Arts Centre

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you for your question, Assembly Member Kurten.  Let me begin by stating that it is not possible for me to intervene in the sale of Hornsey Town Hall, which is current home to a number of small businesses collectively known as the Hornsey Arts Centre.  My planning powers are strictly defined by the Mayor of London Order 2008 and I am unable to intervene in matters that do not meet these criteria, which are the sole responsibility of the local council, in this instance Haringey.  I understand that the scheme was given planning permission in 2010 by the London Borough of Haringey and recently the Council agreed to sell the site for development using the current planning permission.  Therefore, I simply do not have the jurisdiction over the Council’s decision to sell the site.


However, as you know, I am keen to make sure London starts building more new and affordable homes and reduces the pressure on sites like Hornsey Town Hall, which is being used to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs).  We know that this will not happen overnight and it will take time to turn things around, but in the past few months we have made some important first steps towards tackling the housing crisis.  Following positive and constructive discussions with the Government, we recently secured a record-breaking investment of £3.15 billion to start building 90,000 new homes in the capital by 2021.


As well as using my planning policy to support new affordable housing, I am also exploring options available through the full review of the London Plan to see how I can more effectively protect the provision for small businesses, including those in the creative and cultural industries.  Small businesses are at the heart of London’s economic success, which is why I recently announced a new Business Advisory Board to ensure SMEs have a voice in London.  London desperately needs such workspaces in order to ensure that we remain the cultural and creative capital of the world.


David Kurten AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  Thank you for your answer and your understanding that we need extra space for SME businesses.  You have looked into this particular case and you are saying that you do not have any particular hard power to intervene, but you do have the soft power of making representations.


Do you understand that the businesses that are there - 74 businesses, some of them very innovative - and other groups that use it, community groups and arts groups, will all lose their place of business or lose their place to do community activities if this is sold off?  It is not too late.  As far as I understand the date of the sale, the signing of the contract is 18 January 2017.  It is not just the area that it is in, Crouch End; it is a community space that people from as far away as Tottenham, Wood Green and other areas, which are areas of social deprivation, use.  They would very much appreciate you trying to make representations just to see if there is an alternative way of saving the space for them.  Is that something that you would be willing to do, just to write to the Council?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you for your representations.  I want you to do more than that.  I cannot stop the sale.  That has been agreed.  I have asked my officers, as a consequence of your question, to look into this and see if Haringey is providing sufficient support to ensure the businesses can be relocated.  I am happy to get back to you with an update.  Again - and I made this point to Assembly Member Bacon - if you do not hear from me, please do feel free to chase me up.  It is an oversight; it is not intentional.  I will write to you with an update.


David Kurten AM:  Thanks.  It is fine to ask for relocation but relocation is quite disruptive to businesses and there are also the arts groups that are going to be there.


Assembly Member Whittle and I went up to visit Hornsey Arts Centre last month.  Would you like to come with us to visit it and see how wonderful it is and meet members of the local community and see what a fantastic thing is going on up there?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I visit small businesses all the time.  I recently visited Somerset House Studios, which is a remarkable workspace and offers small businesses affordable creative workspace.  I visited Catford Dek in Lewisham a couple of weeks ago as well and The Cube in Barking and Dagenham.  My diary permitting, I am more than happy to make visits.  If I cannot, sooner rather than later, I am sure that one of my Deputy Mayors will as well.  Visiting SMEs gives them a boost and raises awareness but also some publicity and local press is always good for businesses.


David Kurten AM:  It is.  I appreciate that you are doing that and that you understand the needs of small businesses all around London.  This is happening all around London.  We do need extra houses when we have economic growth.  Would you agree with me that economic growth is good but when it ruins the city and ruins communities that are already there, it is not good economic growth?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  One of the reasons why I am so passionate about small businesses is because I used to run one.  Of the businesses in London, 99% are SME businesses.  More than half of Londoners work for a SME business.  What we cannot afford to happen is for small businesses to no longer be viable so that people either give up or leave London.


That is why I have announced a number of feasibility studies to support small businesses, including in the new London Plan ensuring that when it comes to developments there is space in developments not just for residential homes that are genuinely affordable but also for studios, workspaces and creative workspaces.  It is crucial.


Also, I want councils to protect the heritage in their town centres.  I do not want London to become a clone city.  We need to make sure there is a diversity of independent retailers, independent businesses and small businesses.  Often they support a family and they support the local community and there is a virtuous circle with every pound you spend at a local small business.  I am onside with supporting small businesses.


Any ideas you have, please feel free to feed them in to me or my Deputy Mayor for Business, Rajesh Agrawal.  Jules Pipe, Deputy Mayor for Planning, Regeneration and Skills, is seeking to ensure that he has a good consultation so that the next London Plan is a help to small businesses rather than a hindrance.


David Kurten AM:  Thank you.  Those are fine words and I do see that you understand the issues, but in this particular case this Arts Centre is going to be turned into a luxury hotel and luxury flats and I have been told that only 4% are affordable.  That is why I asked the question.  I was hoping that on the basis that there were only 4% affordable flats you might be able to intervene.  You have told me that you cannot but we would appreciate anything that you or your Deputy Mayors can do.  Thank you for your answers and we will be in touch with you.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you.


Joanne McCartney AM:  This is in my constituency and I have visited the Hornsey Town Hall.  I have also had the same answer from your Deputy Mayors that there are no statutory intervention powers that you have.


Part of the issue with this is that it was a derelict site, it is a heritage building and it needs work.  Haringey sought to put a temporary arts centre there for two years and it has been there.  We need to encourage local authorities to use their spaces innovatively.  There then comes a period, of course, when the building is going to be restored and what we do with those businesses.  Are you pleased, though, that Haringey is going to maintain an arts facility in the Town Hall and also looking at the library behind and to relocate some of those facilities as well?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Absolutely.  Although I have not been there, it is clear to me that the Town Hall requires substantial restoration and refurbishment to allow it to be fully reopened.


What I am pleased to see is the work Haringey is doing with the arts community.  The phrase I have used is “culture is the DNA of our city”.  It is the glue that keeps Londoners together.  It is really important when good councils do good work that that is recognised.  I pay tribute to Haringey for the work it is doing in that area.


Joanne McCartney AM:  Thank you.  Can I thank you for your Deputy Mayors looking into this and seeing if they can offer support?


Can I also ask you, with instances like this with community space, is that something that you are hoping to strengthen in your next iteration of the London Plan?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  One of the things I find frustrating - and I know that Assembly Members do and Londoners do - is that I currently have to work by law to the London Plan I have inherited that is not very good.  That is the bad news.  One of my frustrations about not moving fast enough on affordable housing is that I work with the current London Plan; not moving fast enough to support small businesses, to help councils, even working with the current London Plan.  I am keen, though, to make sure we do not rush in relation to the new London Plan without consulting Londoners, small businesses and councils.


I know one of the concerns raised at previous MQTs by Assembly Members is the process of developing the new London Plan.  Realistically, we will have a new London Plan published next year [2017], but the final London Plan may be another two or three years away because of the law.  That is why I have published supplementary planning guidance (SPG) where I can to help with the interpretation of the current London Plan.  It is really important that the next London Plan does better for small businesses and does better for arts and creative spaces than the one I have inherited.


Joanne McCartney AM:  Thank you.


Andrew Boff AM:  Mr Mayor, you have said that the reason you cannot intervene with regard to the Hornsey Arts Centre is because the GLA does not have an interest in the Arts Centre.  Is that correct?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  What I read out in my answer I am happy to read out again if you did not hear what I said.


Andrew Boff AM:  You could just take it from your own opinion rather than your briefing notes.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I understand that planning permission was granted in 2010 and the Council has agreed to sell the site for development using the current planning permission.


Andrew Boff AM:  Yes, but what I asked was whether you are saying that the reason you cannot intervene is because you do not have an interest in the Hornsey Arts Centre.  Is that correct?  That is what you just said to Assembly Member Kurten.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  The word was “jurisdiction” but we will not argue about that.


Andrew Boff AM:  “Jurisdiction” is fine.  It is as much as I am going to get.  You also, quite rightly, waxed lyrical about how London should not be a cloned city.  Is that correct?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Yes.


Andrew Boff AM:  You also declared your support for small businesses and how important they are as the lifeblood of London’s communities or something similar to those words.  Is that correct?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Sorry, was that a question?


Andrew Boff AM:  Yes.  It is quite good if you listen.  That is your job.  Could you tell me whether or not you support small businesses in London as the lifeblood of London’s economy?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Yes.


Andrew Boff AM:  You seemed to indicate that in your previous comment.


Tony Arbour AM (Chairman):  He has just said yes.


Andrew Boff AM:  Thank you very much.  Could you tell me whether or not you would therefore wish to speak with the Wards Corner Community Coalition, also from the London Borough of Haringey, where you do have a land interest in terms of TfL, where Haringey’s association with Grainger is threatening Latin American small businesses?  It will, if the plan goes through, stamp on the diversity that there is in London, will reduce the number of opportunities for small businesses and will predominantly negatively affect the livelihoods of those people currently dependent upon Wards Corner.  Will you meet with the Wards Corner Community Coalition?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  My job is to listen and to answer questions.  Let me answer your question.


Seven Sisters Market is an important local market, especially to the Latin American community in that area, as you have said, and it supports a number of small businesses.  I am committed to supporting local markets, which play such an important role in local communities.  Haringey Council, in partnership with Grainger, as you have said, has plans to regenerate this part of the borough and has given a commitment, along with the developer, to protect the future of the market through the planning process.  The redevelopment that Haringey Council and Grainger plan to bring forward has planning consent and extends beyond TfL’s land holdings and covers a wide area of Seven Sisters with multiple landholdings.  The redevelopment masterplan assumes that a local market will continue to operate, a policy that TfL and I fully support.


Andrew Boff AM:  Yes, that is all on the record, Mr Mayor.  Will you meet with the Wards Corner Community Coalition to discuss those issues?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  My Statutory Deputy Mayor, Joanne McCartney, has been doing a sterling job talking to local communities and the council--


Andrew Boff AM:  You will not?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  My diary permitting, I am happy to, but the problem with my diary is that it could be months away and so I am very happy for my Statutory Deputy Mayor, Joanne, to meet with them as she has done in the past.


Andrew Boff AM:  Did you say that you were happy to meet with them just then?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I thought your job was to listen to me.


Tony Arbour AM (Chairman):  Touché.


Andrew Boff AM:  Very good.  Touché.  Did you say you were happy to meet with them?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I am new to this.  What is your excuse?


Andrew Boff AM:  Actually, Mr Mayor, the job is that I ask the questions and you listen and then you answer.  I do not have to answer questions.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Shall I read it again?


Andrew Boff AM:  No.  What I clearly want from you ‑‑


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Sorry, Chairman.  You are being very generous today, Chairman.  It really is Christmas.


Andrew Boff AM:  Will you meet with the Wards Corner Community Coalition?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I have spoken to my Statutory Deputy Mayor, who is from that area and has met with them in the past.  Because of my diary being so busy--


Andrew Boff AM:  I know your Deputy Mayor has met with them.  I am not asking a question of your Deputy Mayor.  I am asking a question of you.  Will you meet with the Wards Corner Community Coalition?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Chairman, I will try again.  I have a very busy diary, which is why often, when people ask for a meeting, I say --


Andrew Boff AM:  Yes or no, Mr Mayor.  They are just two very simple words and you can reply with either.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  My Deputy Mayor, Joanne McCartney, will meet with them, as she has done in the past, and will report back to me, I am sure, the representations that are made to her.


Andrew Boff AM:  OK.


Tony Devenish AM:  Mr Mayor, you said that the current London Plan, quote, “is not very good”, unquote.  All the information I am picking up from your Deputy Mayors, your officers and indeed the industry is that the next London Plan will mean changes, certainly, but not a major step-change.


Are you inferring by your comment that it “is not very good” that the new London Plan will be a substantial step-change?  If so, can you give us specific examples, please?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  If I were to tell you now what the London Plan is going to be, you would criticise me for not consulting, which you are prone to do.  What I want to do is to consult with Londoners - including experts, if you know of any - to feed into my new London Plan.


Let me give you one example of an area that could do with improvement.  I am setting up a Workspace Providers Board.  That will advise me and City Hall on securing workspace, including through the planning process, and creating new space, for example, through identifying sites for building new developments or through refitting empty space in existing buildings.  The board will advise me on wider challenges and issues around workspace such as permitted development rights and general affordability.  That is just one example.  It is my intention not only to protect existing SME workspace but to promote affordable new workspace in redevelopments.


Tony Devenish AM:  You are confirming that the new London Plan, once it has been through the whole process, will be substantially different from the existing London Plan?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I hope so.


Tony Devenish AM:  Thank you.


Peter Whittle AM:  Mr Mayor, as Assembly Member Kurten said, I went up to the Hornsey Arts Centre with him.  They got in touch and unfortunately no one else got back to them except for us.


I wanted to ask you.  The redevelopment of this Town Hall - and I accept that you do not have jurisdiction over the sale - is for another luxury hotel.  Even though you do not have jurisdiction, generally, as the Mayor of London, do you think London needs another luxury hotel?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  It depends where in London it is.  The issue is not whether we need a luxury hotel.  It is whether a sufficient number of affordable homes are obtained on this site.  My issue is not being for or against luxury hotels.  It is making sure there are genuinely affordable homes being given permission to be built in London.


Peter Whittle AM:  Do you not think that these developments are becoming so numerous around London that in fact it is becoming a bit of a cliché, “luxury flats”, “luxury hotel”?  This is in a place that, if you went to it and saw it, is very bad for a hotel in terms of transport and in terms of all of those things.


That being said, you do not think that, basically, there is a problem with another luxury hotel going up in London?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I am not sure if sitting here in City Hall I can dictate the best places to have luxury hotels.  That is a decision for local authorities.  What I can do is to have a London Plan that sets out the criteria that I want local authorities to be thinking about when it comes to giving permission for applications on various sites across our city.


Peter Whittle AM:  In other words, really, just let the market decide?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  You and I have had a number of hustings together and you know that that is not my view about letting the market rip.  One of the reasons we are in this mess is because there has been not enough intervention from City Hall in the past.


I am saying that I cannot comment on a particular application and whether a luxury hotel is appropriate or not.  What I can say is that I am not against luxury hotels per se but I am in favour of ensuring that there are a sufficient number of affordable homes given permission in different parts of London.


Peter Whittle AM:  Thank you.