Waltham Forest Guardian
The Cabinet have agreed development around the Town Hall should be carried out to enable a more efficient Town Hall. They have also purchased the Magistrates Court so they have plenty of land to create new offices and develop the site. What they seem to miss is the Grade II listed 1930s buildings look amazing because of their setting. It would be local authority vandalism if this is not protected. Looking at the Cabinet paper this does not seem to be an important consideration - saving money on administration is the main reason for the development.
Key points for the Cabinet Paper:
1.2 Implementation will transform and improve the way the Council currently operates and delivers its services to residents as follows:
· Allow investment within the Town Hall and the Campus 2
· Create a new neighbourhood within the heart of Chapel End
Surely this site is important to all residents not just those of one ward!
· Reduce running costs by £300k pa
· Avoid the need for future capital investment in the current estate by circa £4m and significantly reduce the Council’s carbon footprint
· Allow for the development of circa 348 new homes
· Generate future Council Tax income in the region of £361k pa
Making best use of the corporate estate and improving the efficiency of the organisation, is a key theme of Redefining Waltham Forest 2020. Key objectives include:
· Improving service delivery
· Investing in and fully opening up the Campus to residents, visitors and business within the Borough
Why should the site be spoiled by inappropriate usage?
· Rationalisation of the estate to release land to contribute to the Council’s Economic Growth, including new affordable housing
· Reduce running costs and ensure the Council has an estate for future service needs
The Council, as part of its people and business transformation strategies, is constantly reviewing and improving its operational model. The current estate is a hindrance to future improvements.
Other councils would see this as a precious resource and be proud of it not regard it as hinderance!
The largest landholding in the Civic Estate is the Town Hall Campus. (Appendix 1). The Council entered into a conditional sale agreement with Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to acquire the Magistrates Court on the 19th July 2016 (“Magistrates Agreement”). Once the conditions of the Magistrates Agreement have been satisfied, the purchase of the Magistrates Court will complete. This is imminent and will mean the Council will control the total site, and there is a significant opportunity to redevelop the site.
This is whilst maintaining and investing in the Council’s key heritage buildings, the Grade II listed Town Hall and Assembly Hall.
Key objectives of this consolidation would be the following:
· The transformation of the Town Hall Campus into a new neighbourhood within the heart of Chapel End. This will be a commercial, residential, civic, cultural and community quarter fully opened up for residents. It will reinforce the investment in the community following completion of the Feel Good centre.
Surely other Wards near by need to get some benefit as well?
· The creation of a café, business opportunities and a range of cultural activities
· The potential to create a joined up Health/Community/Social Care Hub on site
· Opening up the grounds around the Campus to create new parks in a safe environment
How many parks do we need? - the Borough's premiere park, Lloyd Park, is 5 minutes away
· Securing the future of the Grade II listed Town Hall and Assembly Hall by improving its surrounding environment
The current surrounding was part of the 1930s design - can it really be improved?
· Opening up the Town Hall for use as a wedding venue by residents
Apparently weddings will be held in the Council Chamber and Committee rooms - does this not downgrade their democratic importance?
· Restoration of the War Memorial
· A fit for purpose, modern reception area for visitors to the council
The entrance was recently adapted to make it a fit reception area!
· A rationalised, cost-efficient civic estate, which will save the council an estimated £300,000 each year
· Surplus brownfield land and buildings to be reused for new residential development with an affordable housing target of 35%
· Additional space to be made available for other public organisations which would in turn release other surplus sites for housing and other uses through the One Public Estate programme
· Implementing a sustainable transport policy and reducing the carbon footprint of its operating model
Does this mean removing parking spaces - it caused a huge revolt when they tried to charge officers for parking a few years ago!
· The project to be self-funding with receipts from housing covering the investment in new accommodation and the public realm over a 4 year period