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Hornsey Town Hall set for £30m makeover to become ‘north London’s new Barbican’

An artist's impression of Hornsey Town Hall's redevelopment An artist's impression of Hornsey Town Hall's redevelopment
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Hornsey Town Hall is set to be restored and reopened as a “future-proofed, modern arts centre”, after lying empty for more than 20 years.

The grade II*-listed building in north London will be given an extensive renovation to create a multi-arts hub with several performance spaces, which those behind the plans say will become “north London’s new Barbican”.

Built in 1935 as council headquarters, the town hall was later used as an entertainment venue, playing host to bands including the Kinks and Queen. However, it has been largely out of use for more than two decades.

Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts had been expected to make the building its new home, as part of a £19 million plan, but this fell through for financial reasons in 2015.

The town hall will now be fully refurbished as part of the new £30 million project, £20 million of which will go towards essential repair and heritage work.

The redevelopment will mean it can be removed from English Heritage’s At Risk register.

The main performance space – the building’s assembly hall – will be refurbished to seat 400, with a standing capacity of 1,500. The building’s council chamber will also be converted into a more intimate, flexible performance space.

The town hall will be run as a receiving venue at first, but once it has reopened an artistic director will be appointed to take charge of its artistic programme and begin developing work in-house.

It is hoped the building will be operational for 18 hours every day, through rehearsal space, recording studios, collaborative working areas and several restaurants, cafes and bars, as well as a cinema.

Plans have also been approved for a boutique hotel and residential units in part of the hall.

The redevelopment is being led by arts and media company the Time and Space Co, which will also operate the venue once it reopens.

Piers Read, from the Time and Space Co, said the plans would “breathe new life” into the building, providing spaces for artists to create and perform work as well as a commitment to community access.

The company has already partnered with 3D holographic projection specialists Musion to bring new digital-led shows to the venue. Musion is the company behind hologram-based performances by artists including rapper Tupac Shakur and comedians Morecambe and Wise.

Read added that offering holographic shows from a variety of artists would bring “an incredible, innovative, digital edge to [its] arts output”, and attract different audiences.

“Focusing on the needs of the local community and businesses is tantamount to our thinking. The new Hornsey Town Hall arts centre will be inclusive as well as diverse and will celebrate all forms of creativity and artistic output. As a member of the local community, I recognise how unique this platform is and I am privileged to be able to create a special place for curation, which will stand to become a major arts venue in the UK,” Read said.

Work is due to get underway later this year and the project has a target completion date of mid-2020.

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