Tottenham High Road West scheme: Residents accuse council of ‘social cleansing’ at public inquiry
Haringey Council has said it is committed to working with businesses “to find suitable relocation options”.
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Tottenham residents battling Haringey Council’s bid to buy their homes and businesses to enable a regeneration scheme to go ahead have accused the local authority of “social cleansing”.
The council wants to use compulsory purchase powers to buy properties earmarked for demolition under the first phase of the High Road West scheme – a development that will ultimately provide nearly 3,000 homes in blocks up to 29 storeys high.
Although the council won planning permission for the scheme last year, it has been unable to persuade some property owners to sell up. It claims the only way to ensure the development’s “timely delivery” is to use a compulsory purchase order (CPO) – a legal tool allowing it to buy land without the owner’s consent.
But the council received a number of objections to the CPO, and on Thursday (November 16) opponents made their case to a public inquiry chaired by planning inspector Richard Clegg at Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham.
Mary Powell, a resident leaseholder who lives on the 297-home Love Lane Estate, which has been earmarked for demolition, told the inquiry “social cleansing” was taking place.
She said the way the estate was seen by outsiders was “prejudiced” and claimed the council had led it “through a period of managed decline since 2012 if not earlier”, with some maintenance and upgrades not carried out.
Ms Powell added the council had “no business” seeking to buy her home before planning permission was granted in August last year, that correspondence received from the council was “intermittent and poor quality”, and that it had “unreasonably accelerated” the process after residents had spent “more than a decade in limbo”.
Claiming the CPO notice was “premature”, she said there had been “no specific attempt” to talk terms with her “let alone offer any sort of price” until April or May this year – after the notice was issued.
Ms Powell said her resettlement options appeared “superficially inviting” but the costs and phasing of the development were “more likely to drive me and other resident leaseholders out of the area”, adding: “We are the wrong sort of homeowners and do not belong in the new vision of High Road West.”
Private tenant Adrian Sherbanov told the inquiry he had not been notified about the CPO by the council or his landlord and had not been contacted about any consultations.
He said the council had effectively disregarded him and his family and claimed that failing to take account of private tenants was a breach of the Human Rights Act.
Alecos Tryfonas, whose family owns several Tottenham High Road properties earmarked for demolition, including takeaway Chick King and a flat occupied by his elderly parents, also gave evidence to the inquiry.
He said the properties were “all we worked for and what we own as a family”, and he would “never be able to replicate that anywhere”.
Mr Tryfonas said the experience of the regeneration project was not something he would wish on anyone, adding: “Just to wake up and be told one morning by the local authority that shops are going to go, my property is going to be demolished – and there has never been any consultation or option to retain the property.”
Mr Tryfonas pointed out that a petition against the demolition of High Road shops had gained more than 4,500 signatures.
The council has said it is committed to working with businesses “to find suitable relocation options”, which could include commercial space within the new development. However, businesses relocating within High Road West would be offered leaseholds, not freeholds.
Asked by a lawyer representing the council whether he would want a unit in Moselle Square, which people would likely use as a “direct route” through the scheme, Alecos said he would not.
“I can’t take a unit when I don’t know what it is going to be like in five or six years’ time. I know what the High Road is now […] There is no guarantee, no certainty.”