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All change again at Hornsey town hall: Bennetts out, Purcell in

Bennetts Associates claims it was undercut on fees after becoming the latest practice to be dropped from the Hornsey Town Hall revamp project

The practice, which bagged an initial £482,000 cash injection from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the long-awaited scheme last May (AJ 31.05.2012), has now been replaced by a team led by Purcell.

The conservation specialists, ranked 13th in the AJ100, becomes the fourth firm to be brought in to overhaul the building in Crouch End, north London.

John McAslan + Partners (JMP) and DSDHA had both previously worked on designs for the Grade II*-listed 1930s hall, which has been largely unused for the last decade.

Having completed feasibility studies looking at how to convert the Art Deco landmark into a new drama school for Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, Bennetts Associates had to re-bid for the future stages of the work through the OJEU process.

We’re determined not to compromise the level of service we believe is necessary and appropriate

A spokesman for the practice said: ‘[We] and the rest of the design team put a lot of work into this project over four years and it appears that we’ve lost out at the next stage on the basis of fee bids, not quality. 

‘Although we are obviously disappointed to lose a really interesting project like this, we are determined not to compromise the level of service that we believe is necessary and appropriate.’

Speaking about Purcell’s appointment, Mountview’s Chairman Vikki Heywood said: ‘We are absolutely delighted to be working with Purcell whose experience of the restoration and redevelopment of heritage buildings is first class. 

‘They bring with them a talented and experienced design team including Theatreplan who will work closely with us to design bespoke theatre spaces for student and other performance work. This appointment marks a huge step forward for our planned move to Hornsey Town Hall.’

The project team have until May 2014 to submit fully-developed proposals to compete for a full Heritage Lottery Funding award worth £3.3million.

Previous story (AJ 31.05.2012)

Bennetts wins cash backing for Hornsey town hall overhaul

Bennetts Associates has bagged an initial cash injection from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the long-awaited overhaul of Hornsey Town Hall in north London

Last year Bennetts Associates became the third practice brought in to draw up plans for the conversion of the empty Art Deco landmark in Crouch End. Working with Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, Bennetts has come up with proposals for a new drama school which includes refurbishing existing spaces and includes a new three-storey studio.

In 2008 John McAslan + Partners (JMP) was brought in to deliver a ‘new community use’ for the Grade II*-listed 1930s hall, which has been largely unused since 2003, having themselves replaced London-based firm DSDHA.

Now, the HLF has awarded Mountview development funding of £482,600 ahead of a subsequent application for a full grant.

Sue Robertson, principal of Mountview, said: ‘There is now a real chance of this important building being restored and once again filled with arts, heritage and cultural events that everyone can enjoy.

‘A unique combination of world class vocational training with a wide range of education and community activities will bring Hornsey Town Hall back to life with added value for all. We are hugely grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for sharing our vision.’

Previous story (AJ 04.10.2011)

McAslan out, Bennetts in at Hornsey town hall

Stirling Prize-shortlisted practice Bennetts Associates has become the third practice in five years to take on the long-awaited overhaul of Hornsey Town Hall in north London

Two years ago John McAslan + Partners (JMP) was brought in to deliver a ‘new community use’ for the Grade II*-listed 1930s hall (see below), having replaced London-based firm DSDHA which had previously proposed a £15 million cinema and residential scheme.

Now Bennetts Associates has prepared preliminary plans to convert the Art Deco landmark, which has been largely unused since 2003, into a new drama school for Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. The scheme will refurbish existing spaces and includes a new three-storey studio.

Explaining the demise of the McAslan plans, a spokesperson said: ‘The practice obtained planning permission and Listed Building Consent to bring the Town Hall back into use with public halls, community rooms, theatre space, cafés and landscaping.  The budget for this was going to be supplemented with an adjacent housing scheme, for which JMP also obtained consent.

‘Subsequently Mountview developed an alternative proposal to convert the entire Town Hall for its theatre school and the redevelopment of Hornsey Town Hall has changed direction.’

The architect’s view - Rab Bennetts, director at Bennetts Associates

‘Reworking existing buildings has turned out to be a particularly rich seam in Bennetts Associates’ work and the synergy between Mountview and the spaces within Hornsey Town Hall is inescapable. 

‘Adapting a listed building through architectural inventiveness and improvisation greatly enhances the nature of performance and we are delighted to be involved.

Previous story (AJ 22.09.08)

John McAslan to overhaul Hornsey Town Hall

John McAslan + Partners has become the latest architect charged with the project to restore the Grade II*-listed 1930s Hornsey Town Hall in north London.

Unveiled by scheme backer Haringey Council on Friday (19 September), the practice follows in the footsteps of fellow London-based firm DSDHA, which had been expected to take forward a £15 million cinema and residential scheme within and around the ‘municipal-style’ building (AJ online 22.08.06).

DSDHA was appointed previously for initial feasibility work, and was shortlisted for the new procurement but lost out to John McAslan.

McAslan is looking at a ‘new community use’ for the 1935 landmark, designed by Reginald Uren, which would be funded by new housing and shops on the site.

One of the building’s claims to fame is that it hosted the first concert by the band Queen.

John McAslan + Partners' original proposals for Hornsey Town Hall in Crouch End

John McAslan + Partners’ original proposals for Hornsey Town Hall in Crouch End


Practice director Hannah Lawson, said: ‘We look forward to working with the Community Partnership Board, Haringey Council and the local community to realise their aspiration.

‘Key to our approach will be comprehensive and inclusive consultation with the community and other stakeholders, focusing on the needs and aspirations of the people who will enjoy this building for decades to come.’

A planning application is expected to be submitted next summer (2009), with work due to start on site in early 2010.

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