Community Fights Back Over Tottenham Regeneration

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 49 months ago
Community Fights Back Over Tottenham Regeneration

Housing in Tottenham Hale. Photo by Alan Stanton from the Londonist Flickr pool

Residents and community groups in Tottenham say the council's regeneration plans will destroy the feel of the area - and have organised a conference to come up with alternatives to the proposals.

The council says it wants to create 10,000 new homes, 5,000 new jobs and 1m square feet of new commercial space.

But among objections from those living in the area is the claim that social housing is being replaced with mixed tenure (a combination of homes for outright purchase, shared ownership, private rent, 'affordable rent' and social housing). This would force less affluent people out of Tottenham, say the residents.

There are also fears about the corporatisation and blandification of Tottenham, of featureless housing and shopping blocks with chain stores replacing independent, local businesses. In short, that Tottenham will start to look just like anywhere else.

Wards Corner is a case in point. The council and developers Grainger have been working for several years on proposals that would see the site above Seven Sisters tube station demolished and the indoor market moved out. The market provides around 150 jobs from its 60 diverse businesses, particularly from the Afro-Caribbean and Latin American communities, not to mention the shops on the outside of the building.

The Wards Corner Community Coalition (WCC) says an expected tripling of rents would destroy the current community aspect of the market, and has won planning permission to restore the Wards Corner department store in an attempt to show that there's another way towards regeneration. However, the council has still granted planning permission to Grainger and has been discussing Compulsory Purchase Orders for the site, which would contain no 'affordable housing' (though a recent decision to sell nearby Apex House to Grainger would result in 39 per cent 'affordable housing').

We can probably all agree that Tottenham has its problems. And we can probably also agree that in the current economic climate, the only way the council's going to get any money to make significant changes is to let developers make a profit. We may not like it, but that's the situation right now. But we really can't get our heads round the idea that bringing in a bunch of new residents, presumably wealthier than the current community to be able to afford the different housing types, will do anything to solve the kind of tensions seen after Mark Duggan's shooting. It's even possible that a development that alienates the local population results in even greater distrust.

So, a coalition of community groups has come together to form Our Tottenham. It's creating its own community plan; a way to make Tottenham a better place to live without potentially destroying what people currently love about it. And on Saturday 11 October there's a conference for locals to find out about the council's plans and also to come up with community-led alternatives. The conference is free, but sign up via Eventbrite to let them know you're coming (and so they can get enough cups of tea in).

Last Updated 10 October 2014