So – it’s official.
Following a decision by Haringey’s Planning Committee at a meeting on 3rd February Hornsey Depot development really is going to happen, with a long-derelict site being put to good use at last with a large residential element – including 178 much-needed affordable dwellings – and a new medium-sized Sainsburys (at around 19,500 square feet it’s a bit bigger than their Muswell Hill store, and very considerably smaller than Sainsbury’s at Harringay) plus the creation of 120 new jobs to be sourced within the locality.
An already controversial matter reached a controversial conclusion after a “split decision” (including two abstentions) within the Committee resulted in approval finally being granted after the Chairman’s casting vote in favour of the development.
My last word on this development (promise!) is this: I’m firmly in favour of it – as I told the Ham& High, it’s ultimately a good thing – and although I fully accept that for a variety of reasons (whether considered or completely irrational – see last issue) others may not share my views, I have been appalled that local political interest groups have seen fit to use a key development (in both senses of the word) as a political football, stirring up totally unwarranted “outrage” at the very slightest of opportunities and along, with the recipients of last issue’s brickbats, blurring, for their own points-scoring ends, what should have been a mature and considered debate. I sincerely hope that, like errant children (a good analogy, as it goes….), they’ll reflect on their behaviour and learn from it.
As I write this in chilly and intermittently wet mid-February we’re still awaiting the opening of Crouch End’s much-anticipated Arthouse cinema, which will I gather happen in the next few weeks, although I could have sworn this was – according to early “blurb” – originally due to have happened late in 2013.
I see in the press that Curzon have, at a surprisingly late hour, pulled out of the venture – a move, according to Arthouse, entirely unconnected with Curzon’s pay structure which recently came in for some criticism in the national press. A statement on Curzon’s website tells us that “the project has not progressed as (Curzon) envisaged”: I’m not sure what if anything can be read into that, although the Arthouse group assures us that the split was entirely amicable.
Let’s hope that the local people behind the project can make the Arthouse work without the support and resources of an established cinema operator, although my experience in trying to clarify the benefits to be gained from their membership scheme, which in its initial form was distinctly disadvantageous to couples who may wish to join (£45 for an individual membership that benefits one person only, but £300 if there’s more than one of you – they tell me they are looking at this) has led me to question how just well thought-out some elements of this project have been. As I say, though, let’s hope it works.
Meanwhile, and shortly before Christmas, you may have read that the nearby, larger and hopefully complementary – Picturehouse development (on a site that’s even more of an eyesore than the old Hornsey Baths…sorry, HAG) was given the go-ahead by Haringey’s Planning Committee despite local concerns about late-evening disturbance and possible parking issues in nearby streets: I fully understand these misgivings but, as with the Hornsey Depot, this is ultimately a good thing for the area in my view.
The arrival of the Picturehouse will, so I understand, restore a cinema to a site that was used for this purpose from 1911 until the outbreak of World War II. 80 new jobs will be created in the process!
Going west, geographically speaking, I see that the battle over the dilapidated Athlone House rages on. Those forward-looking individuals in the Highgate Society are up in arms (again) over plans by the current owners to demolish the Victorian building and build a new eight-bedroom house.
My view – and call me a philistine if you like – is that if the building is past its best-before date, is becoming burdensome to maintain, and what replaces it isn’t too hideous, then let the owners “drop” it. I’m quite sure Edward Brooke, who had Athlone House built in the 1870’s, didn’t intend it to be there forever.
As with the furore over Hornsey Baths and the “iconic” (the second most overused word in the English language after “like”) view up to Ally Pally, people have to accept that things change, buildings don’t last forever and do get replaced by something different, and let’s face it – in the grand scheme of things nobody’s life will be ruined by someone building a new house, however opulent, on the site, will it? Honestly?
I do wonder about organisations like the Highgate Society and the Hornsey Action Group – it almost seems that their raison d’etre is simply to oppose change for the sake of opposing change, often without keeping things in any perspective, or coming up with any positive or constructive ideas of their own.
Our area of North London is a nice place to live but it can’t just stay exactly the same forever.
Meanwhile, and much more positively, I’m awaiting more news of the two developments in Muswell Hill:
Firstly, there’s the previously reported and potentially exciting new development adjacent to the Odeon cinema, which as previously reported will include a piazza where a slip road currently runs, and could in my view be a catalyst for something of a retail renaissance in that part of Muswell Hill.
Secondly, there’s the Green Man site development which while not as retail-slanted as what’s going on round the corner will nonetheless provide a new building for the London Centre For Children With Cerebral Palsy and 28 new residential dwellings.
If there’s any of the above that you’d like to discuss further with me, I’ll always be delighted to hear from you. I can be contacted on [email protected].