The north London suburb of Crouch End, home to many white middle-class Guardianistas, thesps and other creatives, has seen some changes over the last few years. House prices have risen astronomically as developers build luxury accommodation, and the area around the historic clock tower is replete with estate agents, eateries, coffee bars, hairdressers, beauty parlours, and high end charity shops. M&S and Waitrose opened large stores in the last few years, and the small Budgens store finally gave in to a new, and decidedly up market Co-op.
Developers have been sniffing around the old Hornsey Town Hall, a huge 1930’s Grade II listed building, for years, but there has been massive public resistance to any plans by Haringey Council to sell it off for private development, and as a result, it is currently run by ANA as an interim community arts project, providing small business space, a venue, gallery and coffee bar. But the arrangement is due to end soon, and a sell-off to developers seems likely.
Local campaigners are angry that the small green is included in the sale plans, and on Saturday they held a rally, promoting their petition and and recruiting interest in defending the space.
Local councillor, Jason Arthur, tried to reason with an angry crowd, and admitted that the recent ‘consultation’ had not been widely enough publicised.
He repeatedly assured the public that the council would install covenants into any deal so that the green would remain open to the public despite change of ownership, but perhaps indicative of the ever lower esteem held by politicians, he didn’t appear to convince anyone of his sincerity, and the people listening to him weren’t persuaded that any ‘covenant’ would prevent a future abandonment of promises made now.
The campaigners are calling on the council to make public the evidence from their recent consultation, for the proposed 125-year lease to be made fully public, and for new opportunities for public debate before any decision is made.
The chaining to the railings was only symbolic on Saturday, but with Crouch End clearly reaching ‘peak gentrification’ who knows what direct action may be contemplated in the future.
The online petition is at bit.ly/TownHallGreen @TownHallGreen