Haringey Council might have to sell off some of its community centres – a portfolio which includes the fantastic Jacksons Lane arts centre in Highgate – because the bill for keeping them in shape is £14.5m.
Haringey has responsibility for 31 venues but a recent property survey looked at 24 of them and found that half are in “poor” or “very poor” condition. Urgent repairs would cost £3m. It’s a similar situation to that experienced by Lewisham’s libraries a few years ago: lack of investment had caused serious problems with the buildings, and when government grants to councils were cut mid-way through a programme of repairs, five libraries were handed over to voluntary groups. Could this be the future for some of Haringey’s venues?
Part of the problem is that many of the current tenants pay rent way below market rates, or receive council grants to pay their rent. An alternative to selling off buildings could be to raise rents, but that brings its own problems (could existing users afford to pay more?). The council is currently talking to tenants and will have proposals ready for May.
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