In common with estates and boroughs in city and town centres all over Britain, Haringey is facing a major redevelopment drive which threatens to gut its local community. In the below article, written for the Radical Housing Network’s first ever newsletter [pdf], Doug Thorpe explains what strategies are being used to disrupt the process.
In July 2017 Haringey Council’s Cabinet agreed to create a private Joint Venture company, the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) jointly with private development company Lendlease.
The aim is to hand over 17 housing estates (including large estates Northumberland Park and Broadwater Farm), Schools, Health Facilities, Library, and 500 commercial properties to the HDV. The Council and Lend Lease will each own and control 50% of the company. The new development will be primarily private housing for sale, with some (un)”Affordable Housing” and fewer units of social housing equivalent to council housing than currently exist.
A broad-based campaign against the HDV has formed. Called StopHDV it has united tenants, both Constituency Labour Parties, a third of Labour councilors, Momentum, the Liberal Democrats, Trade Unions, the Green Party, housing campaigns and Resident and Leaseholder organisations against the scheme. Both local MPs (Catherine West and David Lammy) have expressed concerns.
The campaign is concentrating on three strands. Firstly building public awareness, and organised opposition among the public and on the threatened estates, through public meetings, demonstrations, leafleting and information meetings for tenants on estates. There has been a focus on Northumberland Park, the first threatened council estate. A self-organising residents group Northumberland Park Decides is growing support for a tenants’ ballot on the proposals. In October the campaign took the council to court for a Judicial Review of the decision to create the HDV. The campaign’s lawyers argued the council was at fault because:
- In setting up the HDV the council is acting for a commercial purpose
- The HDV and the manner of its development was not consulted before the July 2017 Cabinet decision
- The public sector equality duty of the Equality Act 2010 has not been adequately addressed
- The decision to establish the HDV was not taken to full council
We are awaiting the court’s decision, but this may not be until the new year. There are plans to appeal if we lose. If we win the council will have to consult and take actions to correct its faults. In either case the implementation of the HDV has been delayed, and buys us time to build the campaign to stop it.
In the meantime the Haringey Labour Parties are selecting candidates for the council elections in May 2018. At time of writing, council leader Claire Kober had been reselected at a stacked meeting, which the local party has referred to the national Labour Party for investigation. But in some other wards candidates who oppose the HDV have displaced sitting councilors who support the HDV, including the Chief Whip. The process continues until early December, and there is a real possibility that the candidates selected will have a majority determined to stop the HDV after May’s elections.
This is a critical campaign against social cleansing in London and it is one that we can win.
For more information see the campaign website www.stophdv.com
Minor disclaimer: Freedom as a group doesn’t necessarily believe that electing new councillors will succeed in holding off major redevelopments — as Haringey councillor and Momentum vice-chair Emina Ibrahim admitted at a recent screening of Dispossession, powers are limited even for the most progressive councils and generally, construction giants have a much better grasp of them than councillors. But if it does end up helping then all the best.
Pic: Alan Stanton