Residents and traders in the Seven Sisters area of Tottenham suffered a temporary setback this week as they were denied a judicial review into Haringey Council’s decision to grant a developer permission to demolish a block of houses and an indoor market.
In the Royal Courts of Justice on Wednesday the Wards Corner Community Coalition’s legal challenge to Haringey Council was denied permission to go to Judicial Review. The WCC were challenging Haringey Council’s granting of permission to Grainger PLC’s plans to demolish Wards Corner, in Tottenham, north London.
Wards Corner is home to an indoor market, numerous independent businesses, homes and historic buildings. The WCCC has been campaigning against the injustices faced by those directly affected by the demolition plans.
The case for Judicial Review was put before a judge, and lawyers acting for the WCCC, Haringey Council and Grainger PLC each had the opportunity to argue the case. The judge decided that the case put forward by the WCCC would not be arguable in a Judicial Review. There are still options open to continue the challenge; the WCC can appeal the decision in a higher court.
Grainger PLC was originally granted planning permission in Nov 2008 to demolish Wards Corner in order to build 197 flats and new retail space and, following the intervention of Boris Johnson, a new market hall. The retail space is to be targeted at large national retailers and the high rent increase will prevent occupation by local businesses. The conditions imposed on the market will mean they will not be able to return.
The scheme has no affordable housing. It is the second time in Tottenham’s recent history that Haringey Council has let a big developer get away with a zero commitment to building affordable or social housing. Last year, Tottenham Hotspur – the 11th most valuable football club in the world – was allowed to drop its commitment to affordable homes as part of their £400million new stadium development in north Tottenham.
On his regeneration blog, Chris Brown writes about the Plan for Tottenham:
The 2011 Riots have been the catalyst for a top down focus of attention on Tottenham. But the riots are not the problem. They may be a symptom given the predominance of rioters being from deprived neighbourhoods but the problems are well documented and hardly any of them are addressed by the physical environment orientated Plan for Tottenham.
Deprivation is the underlying issue. Dealing with it takes generations and requires multi-dimensional interventions. Some of these are at a larger geographic scale – sub regional prosperity and incentives to work. Some are really fine grained – dealing with problem families and gang intervention. The community needs to be cohesive, schooling needs to be high quality, family breakdown and unintended pregnancies need to be minimised – the list goes on. There need to be clear pathways to work. It needs to be carefully managed and properly resourced.
The skills at doing this, what those of us with longer memories still call regeneration, have dissipated amazingly quickly once the programmes were wound up in 2010. Both main political parties promised to cut the funding and the central government intellectual capacity to deal with regeneration disappeared almost overnight. It is not clear that it survives even in the Labour party with its predominance of MPs from areas in need of regeneration including David Lammy in Tottenham.
Into this context in Tottenham comes a top down weight of public authority urgency to do something about the Riots, various property developers and a large company, the football club, the 11th most valuable in the world at $564m according to Forbes, seeking to expand its business and currently compulsorily acquiring, through the local authority, a neighbouring local family business.
Meanwhile an alliance of local community groups opposed to the council’s plans met earlier this month under the banner of Our Tottenham. They are organising a march through Tottenham in June.
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