Council set to sign-off High Road West scheme despite leader change

Cabinet member criticises regeneration project but says it’s too late to change course, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

An impression of the plans for High Road West

A major regeneration scheme looks set to go ahead despite a change in Haringey Council’s leadership after a cabinet member admitted to being “stuck” with it.

The council’s cabinet will decide on Tuesday whether to proceed with a residents’ ballot on the 2,600-home High Road West scheme in Tottenham.

If a majority of those living on the Love Lane Estate – which is slated for demolition under the plans – vote in favour, the redevelopment can go ahead.

An update on the scheme was presented to the housing and regeneration scrutiny panel on Thursday, 8th July, where new cabinet member for housebuilding, placemaking and development Ruth Gordon faced intense questioning from members of the previous council administration, which was led by Joseph Ejiofor.

Cllr Gordon said she was never in favour of the High Road West scheme and had not voted for it but admitted the council could not fundamentally change it. “We are tied into a deal that was done, that was voted on before I was elected a councillor,” she told the panel. “We are stuck with that deal.”

The High Road West regeneration deal was agreed with developer Lendlease in 2017. Under Cllr Ejiofor’s leadership, the council secured £91million of funding from the government and Greater London Authority to more than triple the number of council-rent homes on the scheme to 500. This will provide eligible residents living on the Love Lane Estate with new homes.

Cllr Gordon said there had been “slight changes to the landlord offer” but that “nothing fundamental” had changed compared to the plans put forward under Cllr Ejiofor’s administration. The offer now includes disturbance payments for non-secure tenants living in temporary accommodation on Love Lane Estate to cover the costs of moving to their new home.

The cabinet papers also contain a pledge to cap rents on the scheme for eligible residents within the High Road West area at 10% above the average rent residents are paying for an equivalent size property on Love Lane Estate at the time of their move. Under rents set using a government formula, they could have faced rent increases of up to 50%.

Panel member Kirsten Hearn asked what Cllr Gordon would have wanted to change about the High Road West development to make it more aligned with her values.

Cllr Gordon replied: “I would have had to go back before 2012, and I would have preferred to go for a refurbishment of the estate and perhaps building in some infill, to put some extra homes in there. That would have been my preference.” 

She said there had been progress on the scheme and gave “some credit to the previous leader of the council, who has brought other affordable products and converted them into council homes”.

Cllr Gordon told the panel she was in favour of building council homes on land owned by the local authority, rather than selling land to private developers and buying back some of the properties, if that could be done at a cheaper cost.

But panel member Noah Tucker suggested this would lead to a reduction in the delivery of council homes, as targets set under the previous administration “contain a significant component of acquisitions”.

Cllr Gordon later said there had not been a “massive change in strategy” and that nothing had changed in relation to Labour’s manifesto promise. She told the meeting: “If we are offered places that we can buy at good value for money, then we will do that.”