Trying to get straight answers out of director of Exemplar Mark Younger is a near impossible task. After several email exchanges where our questions about the future of the Grade II* listed Middlesex Hospital Chapel went unanswered, he finally rejected my last email as spam.
I’d asked him about the plans to change the name of the chapel — Pearson Hall or Pearson Chapel? I wrote: I understand that you are intending to rename the chapel and so abandoning the name Middlesex Hospital Chapel. I also understand that you are now picking and choosing trustees to look after the chapel. The name Middlesex Hospital Chapel is held in high regard by not only local people but also an international community of former hospital workers and patients. To remove the name Middlesex Hospital from the chapel name is to ride roughshod over the feelings of this community. It appears that you may have a more corporate agenda in mind particularly as there is now a planning application for what will be Fitzrovia’s largest restaurant right next to it.
The reply I received dodged the question about the re-naming of the chapel.
“The process to select directors to the charitable trust has not commenced. The S106 Agreement clearly sets out the use of the chapel and there is no intention to deviate from this — there is no ‘corporate’ agenda as you suggest,” he wrote in an email.
I responded by saying that the details of its objects and initial trustees should have been set out by now — specifically within 6 months of commencement of development.
He replied: “There has been no delay in setting up matters — the provision in the S106 you refer to is the ‘mechanism’ to set up the trust, not the actual creation of the trust. The trust does need to be finally established 6 months prior to the completion of the development but that date has not yet occurred.”
Obviously Exemplar have been too busy flogging penthouses to billionaire overseas investors to bother with details that local people — and a large community of former hospital workers — are concerned about. Nearly all the apartments at Fitzroy Place have been sold for between £1m and £15m.
Perhaps West End ward councillor Jonathan Glanz can help with my enquiries? He recently posted a picture on Twitter of himself and (fellow Conservative Party member and former Camden councillor for Bloomsbury ward) Rebecca Hossack visiting it and saying, “Useful meeting to bring the Chapel at the old Middlesex Hospital into community use”.
The S106 agreement says that ward councillors from the West End Ward should be trustees. However, Glanz now says that he will not be a trustee of the Chapel. “On legal advice, I am concerned as to any potential conflict between my role as a Councillor and Trustee. I have agreed to attend and participate in discussions as an observer and to help ensure that the objectives of the original desire to keep the Chapel in community use are met.”
So still no clarity as to who is a potential trustee from this usually reliable source.
As regards the name of the chapel, he’d obviously been to seek legal advice on his choice of words. “The Chapel is and was built with a specific purpose and I favour the on-going use of the name ‘Chapel’ rather than ‘Hall’ or some other word,” he wrote.
But no mention of Middlesex and Hospital.
He had however read the S106 agreement and was ready to repeat it to me:
“I wish to see the Chapel used for community use as anticipated by the S106 Agreement. Even though Exemplar have spent £2million refurbishing the property and will be providing a dowry of £300,000 (as the Section 106 Agreement provides) there will be running costs for heating, lighting and maintaining the Chapel for community use and these must be covered.
“It is important that a robust, well-funded and well organised group of interested parties from the local community are included in the management of the legal entity which takes on board the 125 year lease to be granted of the Chapel. As I understand it the legal process for the necessary arrangements is now well advanced to enable this to happen,” he wrote.
At least he didn’t mark my emails as spam. Yet we are still clueless as to the actual details of the Middlesex Hospital Chapel Trust or confirmation of what name the Chapel will actually have.