Labour Party’s Celbic Hall plans backed by Labour councillors

Lancaster Road site set to be demolished and replaced with modern community hall and flats, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

The existing Celbic Hall (top) and the design by Clark & Clark Architects to redevelop the Lancaster Road site
The existing Celbic Hall (top) and the design by Clark & Clark Architects to redevelop the Lancaster Road site (bottom)

Plans to demolish a community hall owned by the Labour Party and redevelop the site to provide modern facilities and new flats have been approved.

Enfield Council’s planning committee last night waved through plans to knock down the single-storey Celbic Hall in Lancaster Road, Enfield Town, and build a three-storey block with flats on the first and second floors.

Conservative members of the committee voted against the plan after criticising the design of the replacement block, claiming it would be out of character with the surrounding neighbourhood. But Labour councillors, who outnumber the Tories, voted in favour of the recommendation from planning officers to approve the scheme.

Prior to the debate around Celbic Hall, Labour’s Doug Taylor left the room having earlier declared an interest in the scheme, revealing he is a shareholder of Celbic Halls Association. John Hood, a member of the council’s legal team, told the meeting that although all Labour members would have a non-pecuniary interest in the item, the council’s monitoring officer had advised that with the exception of Cllr Taylor they could still participate and vote on the plans.

Built during the interwar years, Celbic Hall is used as a base for Enfield North Constituency Labour Party (CLP) and as a community space for local residents. According to the council’s planning report, the building has been showing signs of coming to the end of its life and needs an increasing number of repairs.

Officers wrote that the proposed redevelopment of Celbic Hall would provide “accessible contemporary community space” and six “high-quality homes” that would help meet the borough’s housing targets.

Speaking during the meeting, Conservative committee member Mike Rye said the “bulk, scale and massing” of the proposed new building would be “incongruent with the properties behind and next to it”.

Cllr Rye told the meeting there were “Edwardian villas either side and in the surrounding roads” and claimed the “brutalist architecture” of the new building was “totally out of keeping with anything else in Lancaster Road”. He said he would be “staggered” if the council’s design review panel had agreed to it.

Simon Lee, the council’s principal urban design officer, said earlier versions of the scheme had been reviewed by the design review panel but he did not believe the current version had. Cllr Rye said this was “ridiculous” and the procedure was for a scheme to go to the design review panel when it was “so totally out of keeping with the immediate surrounding area”.

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Brett Leahy, the council’s director of planning and growth, said recommendations made by the panel when reviewing earlier versions of the scheme had been incorporated into the current proposal. But he said officers could not continue to insist on further design review panels, which he described as “an option” and “not mandatory”.

Officers were satisfied that the scheme was “acceptable”, Brett said, adding: “Certainly, as a building, it is articulated, which helps to relieve the built form of the building; it has visual interest; and it is not dissimilar to other modern buildings in the wider locality.”

Lee Chamberlain, another Conservative member, said the proposed new building was “very different” from existing properties in the surrounding area and “considerably larger” than its neighbours. Officers confirmed the new block would be around one storey higher than the adjacent building.

The plans do not include parking spaces for the flats or community use. David Taylor, the council’s traffic and transportation officer, said surveys had shown there was space in the surrounding streets for additional vehicles. The site would also be exempt from any future permit-parking zone, he added.

Mohammed Islam, a Labour committee member, described the proposed building as “fantastic” and “modern”, adding that the design would make the area more “vibrant”.

When it came to the vote the seven remaining Labour members of the committee voted to approve the scheme, with the four Conservative members voting against.

Yesterday the Dispatch revealed that Sabri Ozaydin, a Labour councillor who does not sit on the planning committee but does chair the councillor conduct committee, had failed to declare on his register of interests form that he is a director of River Front Properties, the company planning documents show as developing Celbic Hall on behalf of the Labour Party. He claimed that he did not need to declare his role with the firm.

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