COUNCILLORS have given the green light to plans to hand over Hornsey Town Hall to a theatre group as part of a major redevelopment.
The Grade II* listed building has been surplus to council requirements since 2003 and will be given to the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts on a 125-year lease for a £19 million redevelopment that will see a drama school set up inside by 2014.
The decision was made by Haringey Council's cabinet on Tuesday night after a long consultation with the Hornsey Town Hall Creative Trust community group to find a long-term solution for the building, which currently costs up to £300,000 a year to maintain.
Councillor Joe Goldberg, cabinet member for finance, said: “Together, the council, the Hornsey Town Hall Community Trust and Mountview have agreed a plan which meets their shared aims and is an exciting vision for the future of Hornsey Town Hall.
“The building itself will be beautifully restored and cared for, Mountview will be back at its home in the heart of Crouch End, there will be community access, a fantastic arts programme, and an influx of students and visitors which will bring vibrancy and culture to the area.
“It really is a complete package.”
The move should see the long saga of the future of the building nearing a close – the council has already invested £2 million in the project after residents hit out at original plans to sell off all the land to a private developer.
But the rest of the complex around the Town Hall will still be sold off so that 78 houses can be built – down from the 123 approved last year – with profit from the sale being pumped into the redevelopment.
Mountview must raise the bulk of the cash to meet the remaining costs of restoring, refurbishing and developing the building.
Ann Wilks, chair of the Hornsey Town Hall Community Trust, said: “We have been working in partnership with Haringey Council since 2007 to find a solution which meets their stated objectives of restoring this historically important building and using it a financially viable way that also has strong community benefits.
“The Trust believe that leasing Hornsey Town Hall to Mountview is the option that most fulfils these aims and objectives.”
But Mountview, currently based in Wood Green, must submit a fresh planning application and win English Heritage approval before work starts on the revised development.
Sue Robertson, principal of Mountview, said: “These plans will bring Mountview back to Crouch End, stronger than ever, in stunning new premises.
“The proposals would allow us to develop new courses, strengthen our links with the professional theatre world and extend our education and community programme across Haringey.
“Most importantly, it will enable everyone – students, visitors, and the local community – to enjoy this beautiful landmark building once again, bringing it back to life with renewed energy and purpose for present and future generations.”
The plans will include community access to spaces not currently open to the public, including the historic foyer, assembly hall, committee rooms and council chamber, as well as a commitment to maintain the fabric of the building.