A major refurbishment and expansion of Haringey Council’s headquarters has been approved by councillors after the project’s price tag more than doubled.

The scheme – set to cost around £65million according to recent estimates – will see the Grade II-listed Haringey Civic Centre, in Wood Green High Road, refurbished and extended to enable it to become the council’s main offices, as well as providing new community and civic spaces.

Built in 1958, the civic centre was closed in spring 2020 following the discovery of “serious safety and structural issues” requiring major repair work.

But the cost of a revamp spiralled from the initial estimate of £24m in 2021 to the £65.7m in this year’s budget papers, partly because the plans were changed to include a new office block that will enable the council to sell off other buildings.

Haringey’s Liberal Democrat opposition group has led calls to axe a large part of the scheme and spend the money in the community, but the Labour administration insists residents will benefit from the investment and running costs will fall.

Tottenham Independent: Haringey Civic Centre is set for an estimated £65m revamp after regen costs doubledHaringey Civic Centre is set for an estimated £65m revamp after regen costs doubled (Image: Google)

Under the proposals, which were presented to the council’s planning subcommittee on Monday (September 11), the front panels and windows of the existing building will be replaced, while the interior will be changed to a more open-plan layout.

A three-storey office block will be constructed on the car park to the rear of the site, and this will be linked to the revamped civic centre by smaller, two-storey blocks.

Planning officer Samuel Uff told the meeting the scheme would provide “high-quality, flexible and modern office space for up to 800 employees” as well as retaining civic and community uses.

The project will also see the creation of a central courtyard and landscaping works, together with the installation of insulation and solar panels in order to boost energy efficiency.

Council officers said the public benefits of the scheme – including better accessibility as the existing steps are replaced with a new ramp – would outweigh the “less than substantial harm” to heritage caused by the renovation.

Speaking in support of the plans, Woodside ward councillor Dr Thayahlan Iyngkaran called the scheme “a once-in-a-generation opportunity to restore this important building and provide a ‘heart of Haringey’ civic headquarters”.

He said the council had engaged with residents on the plans “and it really feels like we see overwhelming positive support for the project”.

No-one spoke against the proposals during the meeting. The committee was considerably smaller than usual, with only six councillors present out of the expected quota of eleven.

During the subsequent debate, members raised concerns over plans to provide just eight car parking spaces, including three for Blue Badge holders.

In response, council officers told the committee the scheme was policy compliant, adding that on-site parking could be changed to provide more Blue Badge spaces if needed.

Maurice Richards, the council’s transportation planning manager, said the site was in an area of high public transport accessibility and that there was enough on-street parking in the “immediate area” to accommodate staff who have Blue Badges.

Members of the council’s major projects team told the committee that the wider design of the building was about “opening up for the community to be able to come and use this space”, expanding access and providing flexible uses.

They said the council chamber was designed to accommodate 250 people, and the “fully restored public gallery” would provide “maximum opportunity for attendances” at meetings.

Following the debate, the plans were unanimously approved by the committee.