This consultation will be open until 2 March 2018.
Ealing Council, as trustee of the Victoria Hall Ealing, has made an application to the Charity Commission for approval of the grant of a lease of the Victoria Hall to Mastcraft Limited. The lease is intended to secure a proposed wider development of Ealing Town Hall; the proposed scheme includes the provision of a hotel in one part of the Town Hall with the retention of civic functions in another part and makes provision for the retention of community use (including the retention of community use in the Victoria Hall). As part of the application to the Charity Commission for approval to the lease, Ealing Council (as trustee of the Victoria Hall Ealing) is consulting the community of Ealing on the proposed lease to Mastcraft Limited. The representations received will be considered by the council acting as trustee before it proceeds with the application.
What is the Victoria Hall?
The Victoria Hall was built in 1888 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee and was funded through public donations. When the Hall was completed in 1893, a Declaration of Trust was made which set out how the Hall and 'rooms and offices belonging thereto' were to be used. The declaration states that the hall was to be made available to the public for hire for meetings, entertainments, balls, bazaars and other gatherings. Historically the hall has been hired by the general public and local groups for a wide variety of purposes including dances, wedding receptions and classes, events and meetings.
In 2017 Ealing Council obtained legal advice that the charitable objects of the Victoria Hall Ealing were vague and uncertain and a recommendation that the objects should be updated from the Charity Commission. A public consultation on the adoption of new charitable objects is currently open until 9 February 2018.
How has the Victoria Hall been run to date?
In 1937 the council (again as trustee) entered into a ‘lease’ arrangement in respect of the Victoria Hall with the Council. For several years after that, the ‘rent’ payable under the arrangement was applied by the trustee to fund the maintenance of Coronation Cottages which were occupied by ‘aged persons’. The purposes to which the agreed rent was applied changed over the years and the ‘lease’ arrangement was reviewed in 1975 when it was decided that Ealing Council would pay an increased rental of £2,000 per year to the charity to be applied towards the Mayor’s Fund. At some time after 1975 the rent ceased to paid but Ealing Council has continued to maintain the Victoria Hall and pay the outgoings.
At present, when not being used by the council the Victoria Hall is available to the community for rent for functions in accordance with the charity’s charitable objects.
The charity has not operated with accounts or management separate to that of Ealing Council for some years. On 19 December 2017, full Council (acting as trustee) delegated the council’s functions as trustee to the Council’s General Purposes Committee. It is intended that the council will, from now on, resume the production of separate accounts for the charity.
Ealing Council is unable to afford to continue to maintain the Victoria Hall as the income generated by the community lettings of the Victoria Hall are insufficient to maintain the Victoria Hall let alone create a surplus to fund any rent to the charity. It forms part of Ealing Town Hall, the costs of which maintaining and repairing are prohibitive, referred to below.
How is it proposed that the Victoria Hall will be used in the future?
In 2014 Ealing Council invited tenders from entities interested in developing the Town Hall buildings including Victoria Hall. Following a procurement process Ealing Council selected Mastcraft Limited to develop part of the Town Hall buildings as a hotel and whilst retaining part for civic purposes and providing for continuing community use in exchange for which, subject to Charity Commission approval, Ealing Council would grant Mastcraft Limited a lease of the Town Hall buildings including Victoria Hall.
As part of the negotiation process, Mastcraft and Ealing Council have currently agreed that terms of the lease of the Victoria Hall should include a guaranteed ten days of free use of the Victoria Hall by the council and community use at a reduced charge, reduced charges being current charges plus 10% at day 1 (and increased by RPI annually) to reflect the building improvements for the first ten years, thereafter a rate of 60% of the commercial value. The reduced charges will apply at agreed times, in a similar way to the current arrangement.
The terms of the proposed lease also require Mastcraft to maintain the Victoria Hall to a level suitable for use by the community.
What will happen if the proposed lease does not happen?
If the proposed lease of the Victoria Hall to Mastcraft does not go ahead the future of the Victoria Hall is uncertain. It is predicted that there would continue to be a shortfall each year between the income from lettings and the costs of maintaining the Victoria Hall and any ‘rent’ payable to the charity if the ‘lease’ arrangement continues.
As a result, the amount charged to the community for use of the Victoria Hall and the number of lettings might need to increase significantly in order to meet the maintenance costs of the Victoria Hall and /or pay ‘rent’ to the charity. Ealing Council predicts that any increase in the amount charged would actually reduce the likelihood of future lettings, exacerbating the problem and potentially causing the Victoria Hall to fall into disrepair and increasing the cost of future repairs and maintenance.
A report was produced in 2007 by external experts that identified some £3.7m of works needed to Ealing Town Hall (including the Victoria Hall elements) to repair and maintain the building in a good condition. Since then, urgent works of £0.8m have been carried out to protect the fabric of the building, but a balance of £2.9m works remain outstanding. Further deterioration is likely have occurred over the last decade and the costs are likely to have inflated, resulting in a greater cost to repair and refurbish the building. If the proposed lease does not happen, then the council predicts that these costs will have to be met by external grants or other income sources, by the council or by increased rental prices for users of the Town Hall.
What does Ealing Council propose should happen to the Victoria Hall?
Ealing Council is not proposing that the Victoria Hall is sold to Mastcraft Limited or ceases to be available to the community to use. It is proposing that a lease of 240 years be granted to Mastcraft Limited, the terms of which would include a guaranteed 10 days of free use of the Victoria Hall by the council and reduced rates for the community, referred to above.
Ealing Council believes that the proposed lease would safeguard the future of the charity and allow its property to continue to operate in the future as an asset for the benefit of the people of Ealing.
You are invited to let the council know your opinion on the proposed lease to Mastcraft.
How do I make a representation?
To respond to this consultation on whether the proposed disposal of the Victoria Hall should be made, representations can be made in writing to:
David Moore, Interim Director of Regeneration and Planning, London Borough of Ealing, Perceval House, 14-16 Uxbridge Road, London W5 2HL
Or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The closing date for representations to be made is Friday 2 March 2018.