Cabinet overrides housing plan scrutiny for quicker build option
By Luchia Robinson
A new housing development on West Green Road is to definitely go ahead, despite the delivery and cost of the project being called into scrutiny.
Last month, Haringey’s Cabinet reaffirmed its decision to sell council land to property developer, Paul Simon Magic Homes (PSMH), instead of directly building homes on the plot of public land itself.
PSMH will build 88 homes on the Red House development site, selling 46 of these homes (two blocks of flats) back to the council as social rent properties. The remaining properties will be private sector homes.
The Cabinet’s reaffirmed decision, rejects recommendations from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to rethink the planning proposal.
These recommendations included that Cabinet defer the final decision of the Red House development until an alternative, fully costed option had been developed.
It was also proposed that the council provides clear reasons for the selection of developers in future land disposals and acquisitions, and that all associated reports should make clear what consultations and engagements has taken place and with whom.
Tweeting in response to the Cabinet verdict, Cllr Peray Ahmet, Noel Park representative, said: “The direct build option is cheaper and will deliver more units, plus will deliver on our manifesto to build council homes on council land.
“Very disappointing outcome. We don’t want development at any cost. A great opportunity to break from the past is being missed here.”
Some backbench Labour councillors had called for Cabinet to reconsider its initial decision, at a scrutiny meeting held at the end of July.
Speaking at the Committee meeting, St Ann’s ward councillor, Cllr Mike Hakata said: “We are very much in favour of the development on this site, which has been neglected and derelict for too long.
“We believe that the Cabinet decision is flawed as it was based on limited information without due diligence being given to alternative options.”
The ward councillors claim that the loss of public land is inconsistent with the council’s Borough Plan commitment of retaining land free- holds and building homes itself wherever possible.
At the Scrutiny meeting, Cllr Ruth Gordon, representative of Tottenham Hale ward, said: “I think it is a bad deal. We don’t want 46 homes on the site. We’ve been told by officers we can have 60 homes on the same layout.”
“We can do it cheaply ourselves; we can have more homes if we build it ourselves.”
A deputation brought forward by Gulam Choudhury, a representative from the Association of Multicultural Communities, expressed uncertainty about the impact the redevelopment would have on some of the community services currently provided at the West Green Road site.
A deputation led by local resident Hilary Adams stated that key “decisions were shrouded in mystery” and that residents and their ward representatives have not been fully informed, as vital financial information has been exempt from the development reports.
Hilary believes that there has been a lack of public accountability, and because of this, residents have been unable to form proper judgments as to whether the new build will represent the best cost and housing stock value.
According to the council, all information regarding the Red House development has been addressed publicly and transparently, with information published in line with national legislation.
It says the Cabinet option is the quickest approach, ensuring 46 families currently in temporary accommodation, are promptly housed. The quick delivery of the homes, easing temporary accommodation costs, and having a positive financial impact for the borough.
Responding to opposing perspectives to the Red House development proposal, Cllr Joseph Ejiofor, Leader of Haringey Council, said: “My administration is working to deliver 1,000 new council homes at council rent by 2022.
“We accept that to deliver this ambitious target, the council will need to make use of a number of different delivery models. We should not lose sight of the key objective.
“There are more than 10,000 people on our waiting list, some in temporary, emergency or terribly overcrowded homes. We need to deliver housing for them now.
“It is no secret that we would prefer to do that by building them ourselves on council land, but with so many residents desperately needing homes in our borough, we cannot always do that.
“The Red House scheme will provide much-needed council homes let at council rents for Haringey residents who need them most– sooner and with more certainty than any other available option.