The Council is considering the future of Anerley Town Hall and it is planned to put a report to the Council’s Executive on 11th February, which will be scrutinised by both the Renewal and Recreation PDS Committee on 29th January and the Executive and Resources PDS Committee on 4th February.
The background is that whilst the Civic Halls facility provided by the Crystal Palace Community Development Trust (the Trust) is thriving and proving to be a valuable asset to the local community, the former library is currently vacant and the Business Centre is losing money. In addition to this, the front part of the building is affected by subsidence and significant expenditure is required to repair the building now and over the next 10 years, and the Business Centre telephone and I T systems are in need of an upgrade.
Officers of the Council have identified 4 options:
1. Retain Anerley Town Hall as existing.
This would result in the Council having to address the significant repair issues and the need to upgrade the telephone and I T systems. This might improve the performance of the Business Centre, but would not address the future use of the former library. The Council could achieve a capital receipt from the sale of the overflow car park.
2. Lease the entire building to the CPCDT and sell the overflow car park;
The Trust has approached the Council to grant it a 40 year lease of the whole building on full repairing and insuring terms at a peppercorn rent. This would enable the Trust to obtain external funding which could be used to repair and maintain the building. The Trust would continue to operate the Civic Halls and the Business Centre, and expand its operation to include the former library accommodation. As a condition of the lease being granted, the Trust has strongly indicated that it would require the Council to resolve the subsidence issue and upgrade the telephone and I T systems. This option would maintain the current building and the current facilities, and transfer all the revenue income and expenditure to the Trust. Again, the Council could sell the overflow car park.
3. Sell the entire property subject to the existing uses;
The property could be offered for sale as a going concern in its existing condition, with the Trust and the current business tenants in place. The sale could be subject to a claw back to ensure that the Council received a share of any increase in value if the property was subsequently converted or redeveloped. Whilst there may be interest in the Business Centre and the vacant library space, this interest might be dampened by the on-going repairing liabilities and the planning requirement to provide a community facility. There would be no guarantee that the Business Centre or the Halls facility would continue.
4. Sell the entire building and relocate the community uses to a new community facility to be constructed on the overflow car park.
This option would involve closure of the building (including the Business Centre) and disposal of it and the surrounding land (excluding the overflow car park) on the open market. Given the locally listed status, the demolition of the building is likely to be resisted. The existing building layout does not readily lend itself to adaptation and conversion and the repairs would need to be addressed by the purchaser, but these could perhaps be undertaken more economically if the building was vacant and as part of an overall refurbishment project. Subject to planning, the existing building might be suitable for a variety of uses. If a robust case were to be made for the demolition of the building (or even parts of the building) by proposing replacement buildings of an exceptionally high standard of design, the property could be significantly more attractive to developers because they would not be restricted by the existing layout nor faced with the repairs liability.
The community facility could be re-provided, and, in the absence of a suitable off site location, the overflow car park might be a suitable site, subject to planning. This building could be leased to the Trust.
The Trust has already provided the Council with a paper which it has prepared (The Future of Anerley Town Hall) and a copy of this is attached and will be appended to all of the Council’s reports referred to above. However, the Council would be pleased to hear the further views of the Trust and those of the users of the building (both of the Civic Halls and the Business Centre) on the options being tabled and, indeed, on any other solution.
Your views should be passed to the Trust, either by email (email@example.com<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>) or in hard copy to the CPCDT’s Reception at Anerley Town Hall. The Trust will then collate the responses and forward these on to the Council. If you would prefer to send them direct to the Council, please send them to email@example.com<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>.
The deadline for receipt of your views is 22nd January 2015 at the very latest to enable these to be circulated to Members of the Council.