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Haringey approves regeneration plans for second time

Haringey’s cabinet has voted to press ahead with controversial regeneration plans, despite protests from local MPs and opposition councillors.

The London borough’s cabinet met last week and re-affirmed its original decision to go ahead with the proposed Haringey Development Vehicle joint venture between the council and developers Lendlease.

Under the plans, which were first approved by the cabinet earlier this month, tens of millions of pounds worth of public land, including council homes, civic buildings and commercial units will be transferred into the joint venture.

As New Start reported last week, the plans have met with large-scale opposition from residents, local MP David Lammy and the Liberal Democrat group of councillors, who called for the borough’s overview and scrutiny committee to look at the plans again.

The committee met earlier last week and agreed to refer the matter back to the cabinet.

Speaking at last week’s cabinet meeting, the scrutiny committee chair, Charles Wright, said there were a number of concerns, particularly around the overall number of social homes, which will be built in the first phase of the HDV.

‘There are people in this borough who have been failed by the housing market,’ Wright told the cabinet. ‘If we cannot address that issue in this proposal then it should not be going forward.’

There were also concerns about the wording in the HDV document around the right of return and tenants’ rights, along with the exclusive arrangement for Lendlease to carry building work on various sites.

The scrutiny committee also recommended the London borough establish a wholly-owned company to buy up the social rented units to ‘secure the public interest in housing’.

Wright added that HDV staff themselves should agree to attend and engage with the scrutiny process and a ‘significant number’ of buildings in the council’s commercial portfolio, which are covered by the HDV are being used by community groups.

In response, Haringey’s cabinet member, Alan Strickland, said were not able to give definite numbers for social homes in the early phases of the HDV, because the council has to undertake further consultations.

‘What we are clear on is of the 6,400 homes in category one, at least 40 per cent will be affordable,’ he told the meeting.

Strickland added the wording about the right to return and tenants’ rights is being redrafted and rejected the scrutiny committee’s concerns about the exclusivity arrangements.

‘We are seeking to partner with a developer because we want them to develop,’ he said. ‘It’s not unreasonable therefore that the arrangements would involve Lendlease building significant things on our behalf.’

Regarding a wholly-owned company, Strickland said: ‘The head of housing is already doing some work to look at whether we should set up a company, but that is primarily being looked at to purchase properties to help us with a temporary accommodation problem.

‘Clearly, there is an option for the council to use such a company to buy back homes, but that would need to be looked at in the future when we are a bit clearer on the different phases.’

But he agreed that senior staff from the HDV should come to scrutiny and ‘be open to questions’.

Speaking after the meeting, the deputy leader of Haringey’s Liberal Democrat opposition group, Liz Morris said they still believe the HDV is ‘flawed, risky and fails to protect council tenants, leaseholders and local small business’.

‘We were very disappointed but not surprised, that the Labour cabinet decided to go ahead with their massive privatisation of public property and council homes, in spite of the vocal opposition from many quarters.’

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