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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

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Great idea if they can guarantee homes at the same rent and in the same area to current residents.

They can't give such a gurantee FPR.
Kober & Co keep claiming this is their "aim". But an aim isn't any sort of guarantee.

But look in detail and things get worse. Today I was walking and chatting to a few people in the areas in Tottenham targeted for demolition.  I don't want to exaggerate from just a few conversations. But if there was a common theme which came up, I'd describe it as worry and uncertainty. People who have permanent tenancies and have made homes here. Homes not "housing products" -the term used by a senior member of Council staff.

Asked what's happening one man said his block was going to be demolished maybe next year. Or maybe in a couple of years. Where were he and his family going to go? He didn't know. But "they" make the decision. So not "consultation" or even proper information in any sense I understand it.
A vast planned demolition of homes with families moved out. Jobs, schools, family and friendship networks dislocated. Some are tenants of right-to-buy landlords who have few if any rights at all.
And of course, the Council seem unlikely to be spending much on repairs and maintenance when buildings are going to be razed.
From another conversation today, with someone running a small business whose premises will be transferred to the "Vehicle".  Will their rent change? He doesn't know. Will the Council guarantee that the new "vehicle" will collect rubbish and fix potholes properly so vehicles can get in an out? He has no idea. His premises need rewiring. Which the business would need to pay for. Except why would they without some guarantee of continuity? Why should a bank give the business a loan?
Why would leaseholders take the risk of improving their flats with a similar "planning blight" hanging over them?
There are other more personal impacts. I previously met a couple whose home is threatened by this monstrous scheme. I was told: "My husband isn't sleeping; he's worried sick".

I am not against change or development. But there's no need for the Claire Kober/Nick Walkley big-bang-let's-do-everything approach. Minimise risk with small to medium scale projects.
Above all respect residents and local business people. Carry them with you if you can. Give them as much information as possible and as soon as soon as possible.

Nick Walkley has written a briefing note to Claire Kober which she emailed to Labour councillors last Sunday. Just Labour, but not LibDem councillors. A small example and a symptom of her anti-democratic style of Leadership.

All local councillors should treat people the way they themselves would like to be treated. Not this puffed-up hubris from a Council Leader who seems to have stopped listening to anyone but the sycophants around her and property developers.

Oh, and Nick Walkley has approved the cash to send Haringey reps to MIPIM again this year. No spare money in the Council? Don't believe it. But only for vanity projects and for greedy people to pig-out in hotels on the Riviera at our expense. The decision is tucked away right at the end of the Council's budget papers.

Its clearly not a vanity project, this has the potential to make one the biggest single redevelopments Haringey has seen in its lifetime which could make Haringey a major supplier of new jobs and housing for decades to come.

I take your point about residents being concerned completely but regarding this development, nothing can be promised because there is no deal yet on the table. The council don't know how much they will make so can't be sure how much money will be spare for re-housing. These things should fall into place though closer to the time, however yes their should be laws protecting these residents. Heads of the major political parties that held power for the last forty years all deserve a slap for that.

However the basic idea that we have swathes of low level housing that could be developed into mid rise buildings needs to be addressed if we want Londoon to be 'open'. The council can't do it on its own but nor should they lose the freehold to this land and this is a great compromise which in the long term could make a wealth turbine for Haringey residents in perpetuity.

Let's not kick the cow just because we don't like its master.

FPR first this is nothing to do with liking or disliking anyone. To quote an old saying: 'My friends may be wrong; people I dislike may be right.'
You make the point that "nothing can be promised when there's no deal yet on the table" . Yet it is plain that  Claire Kober and her allies are repeatedly making such promises. Saying that everyone moved will have the right to return on the same conditions as now. Claims which are sometimes phrased as "aims". And sometimes made without any qualifications.
Do I trust Cllr Claire Kober, Cllr Alan Strickland to be able to make such promises?  No I don't. Because on this issue people should have independent advice from lawyers who know about Landlord & Tenant, and English Property Law.
Not promises from "leading" councillors who are in negotiation with property developers. Nor following "engagement" with Homes for Haringey (HfH) staff who are trying to persuade tenants and leaseholders to move. ("Engagement" is their word, FPR, not mine.)
Just to be clear, I've met some of these Homes for Haringey staff and I'm prepared to believe that they think they are doing 'the right thing'. But independent legal advisers they ain't!
Is this "a great compromise" this deal with a single private sector "partner" as you suggest? Maybe it is. I've never suggested that councils should do everything on their own.
But neither does Haringey's Scrutiny Report. It says that the councillors who took part sought information from other councils who had tried this type of joint "vehicle". And did any of them say:
'Wow! Do it! It's a fantastic method. We found it one the biggest single redevelopments our council has seen in its lifetime which has made us a major supplier of new jobs and housing" for their residents.

Well, actually they didn't. Bournemouth successfully developed some carparks. Otherwise several councils seem to have run into very serious problems and the happy marriage of council and developer ended in more or less expensive divorce - probably costing substantial extra public funds.
One more vital point. To the best of my knowledge none of the other councils who were prepared to share their experience with Haringey or whose reports are available online, had put their public housing into the pot.
Haringey's track record on property deals is very poor. This is a huge and highly risky scheme. It affects several thousand residents. It may work out. But if it fails and damages people's lives, you can be sure that none of the people responsible will accept the slightest bit teaspoon of that responsibility. Assuming of course that they are still around and haven't already moved on to greater things.
Nick Walkley the Chief Executive is leaving Haringey on 16 February a big Government job. So his comments are made from the comfort of the Departure lounge.

People hate uncertainty. The trouble is that there is no way anyone will ever know anything to the most minute level of detail. Especially as it relates to the future!

The council can't spend years planning everything out - there is a limited window of opportunity to strike a deal, and I hope the council is permitted to go forward. The area needs regeneration very badly.

Typically project of such cost and complexity have funding draw downs and governance built into them, and developmental phases. This should be no exception, so no need for melodrama. Things can always go wrong, but given the state of the area today, it can't get much worse.

It seems to me, Kotkas that your view boils down to saying that because it's impossible to plan every detail, therefore it's okay to rush into a twenty year deal in which the Council has not actually yet done any proper risk assessment.

I don't know the basis for your assertion that there is a limited window of opportunity. Are you a leaseholder or tenant in any of the property affected by this "Vehicle". Do you have some commercial or legal expertise which assists in building a judgement?
Please forgive me for making the next points rather strongly, but can you please tell me the basis for your comment that: "given the state of the area today, it can't get much worse."

I assume you are referring to people's homes. How well do you know the area on which you passing judgement? I'm sure that some people will think my street needs "regeneration" ie. demolition and the residents replaced by new richer shinier people.
Saying "no need for melodrama" appears to me to suggest that concerns now expressed about this vehicle are being over-dramatised. I feel this belittles the issues involved and their impact on peoples lives.
In my view Kotkas, your argument seems to be: let's go ahead and grab the opportunity.
Unfortunately, it's the same approach which led the Council into the huge financial mire of Ally Pally. And was similar to PFI. and many other bad Council decisions. (Icelandic banks, Tech Refresh and the Technopark were just three examples.)

If you want to use your own money, or home, or business in a risky venture then go ahead. But Haringey councillors have a wider responsibility.
Most of the other local councils approached by Haringey's Scrutiny Panel were not positive about their experience of"joint vehicles" and none suggested putting people's homes into the pot.
Many decades ago I worked as a lawyer and people trusted me and my firm to advise them on risk with property deals. I tried to discharge that responsibility by looking at all the things which could go wrong. Maybe I was sometimes over-cautious. But it was their money I was risking, not mine.

By the way I haven't noticed that many of the councillors and senior officers voting for or advocating in favour of this "Vehicle" are themselves residents of the buildings facing demolition or businesses which now have their premises about to be vested in a new untested "Vehicle".

The risk averse have lost a pretty penny and some when it comes to London property, quite consistently since World War Two. Maybe not the best group to side with.

The problem I have is Wood green. and Tottenham labour groups as vocal as they are now, what did they actually achieve themselves? Wood Green and Tottenham has been rotting for years whilst labour has enjoyed power for years.

Having this bunch of chin scratchers start shaking their head after decades of neglect is too late.

I speak from experience in planning large commercial projects Alan, where one establishes a broad framework for investment and risks to a level of detail that allows to determine major pros and cons of going forward, and provisions are put in place to mitigate unforeseen risks. So proclaiming this is some sort of 'big bang' to hell with everything proposal naively ignores a well established principle of planning large scale projects, and the very fact that a phased implementation approach is implicit in such large projects. 

I know the area reasonably well and my views on how badly it needs improvement nothing to do with the people you feel entitled to represent. Any one who has ever taken a walk down from Ally Pally to Turnpike Lane would agree that the area is in dire need of improvement, need I state examples? Would the people whose interests you claim to be advocating for prefer the area to stay just as it is? 

And yes, Alan, I do find a lot of the reasoning against the initiative to be overly reliant on Trump-like bombardment with visceral terms such as 'demolition' 'people's lives/homes being auctioned' 'huge financial risk' etc.

If you have a rational, fact based counter argument, please put it forward, or else you will continue to appear melodramatic and factless.

And please refrain from making infuriating generalisations as to what kind of people i would/wouldn't like to see on the streets of Haringey. 

Mr Kotkas, calling someone's views "Trump-like" seems unfair on anyone. I don't make things up and I assume you don't either. Or perhaps it's another way of saying that you don't believe in the facts I refer to. Well then, please read the Scrutiny Panel Report.
You tell us of your experience in "planning large commercial projects ... where one establishes a broad framework for investment and risks to a level of detail that allows to determine major pros and cons of going forward, and provisions are put in place to mitigate unforeseen risks."
Perhaps you'll give us couple of examples of these commercial projects involving housing development of existing homes.
But of course, you're right in principle and do I wish Haringey Council had such a framework and such a detailed risk analysis. The Scrutiny Panel requested it but didn't get it. Maybe it exists but for some reason couldn't be produced. Or maybe someone's working on it now.
If you would please re-read the Council's framework you will find it is heavy on aims, opportunities, strengths, promises etc; but feather-light on the risks.
Which, to me, appears not too different from many other such programmes elsewhere which have been bright and glowing with initial promises. but dim in the outcomes. Or at least in outcomes as they impacted on the people directly affected - residents and businesses.
I can't see any ground for objecting to the word "demolition" if that's what the programme is about. If the Council on its own or in partnership with a private developer, plans to demolish large swaths of homes why not tell people that truth? 
What nicer term should we use to avoid it sounding "visceral"? Estate improvement?  Not really what's likely to happen. The word "regeneration" itself has been mainly emptied of meaning.
"Huge financial risk"? It really is - certainly the largest scheme of its kind which the Scrutiny Panel was able to find. And my mention of Haringey's poor track record in managing some large projects is - I'm very sad to say - entirely factual. If you haven't heard about the Ally Pally debt, ask around.
And if this one goes wrong it's potentially a far bigger disaster. Not just for the Council and council taxpayers, but for residents directly affected.
I apologise if I appeared to be referring to you personally when I wrote that: "some people will think that ... my street needs "regeneration i.e. demolition and the residents replaced by new richer shinier people."
I wrote that because in my view that is what developers want. And what the Council Leadership wants - because of the tax base. And because they think poverty and inequality is "solved" by displacing poorer people to somewhere else.
You ask if people want the area to stay just as it is? Maybe some largely do. I suspect that everywhere there are people who simply dislike change.
But perhaps we can agree that probably large numbers of people would respond positively to the question "Would you like to see change and improvement in this area?"
However, that is precisely the problem with Haringey Council's approach to consultation. It's called the Law of the Nonsensical reverse. (Or ridiculous negative.)

It means that the Council asks questions like: Do you want improvement; better shops, schools, parks, cleaner streets, better transport etc etc?  To which the answer is usually 'yes'. Then it dishes up the plan the Council Leaders and bureaucrats had in mind, claiming: "this is what you asked us for". It's a con. But fools a lot of the people a lot of the time.
I assume Mr Kotkas that we can both agree on a need for "improvement". But if either of us thinks that involves knocking down the other's home, or for example opening a betting shop next door, our generalised agreement might quickly vanish.
A last point, I don't "claim to be advocating" for anyone. I simply post my own views here.

People might be interested to read the motion that was passed at the Tottenham Labour Party General Committee (for the uninitiated the General Committee is made up of representatives from each branch of the Labour Party in the Tottenham constituency). It was agreed by 85% of the delegates to last night's meeting. Further note - CLP means Constituency Labour Party

This CLP:

1. Notes the report of Haringey Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee which raises serious questions regarding the proposed Haringey Development Vehicle, and recommends that the HDV plans are halted and that further scrutiny work should be undertaken.

2. Has concerns including in respect of the following regarding the HDV:-

· The potential financial risks involved

· The mass demolition of council homes, and consequent loss of council housing stock and availability of homes at target rents

· The lack of guarantees for existing tenants on right of return, target rents and security of tenure (See 7.26 – 7.34 of Estates Renewal and Re-housing Policy)

· The loss of democratic control and lack of transparency

· The lack of genuine consultation with tenants, residents and businesses

· The likely negative impact on equalities

· The privatisation of public land and buildings, leading to a reduction in the Council’s asset base and likely reduction in income.

3. Calls for, and urges our Tottenham councillors to use their votes and influence to secure:

a. That progress towards the establishment of the HDV (including the appointment of a joint venture ‘partner’) is ceased until further notice, and for further scrutiny work to take place.

b. The exploration of alternative models involving maintaining full public ownership, improving rather than demolishing our structurally sound council housing stock, and increasing the building of council homes.

4. Authorises CLP officers and bodies to organise campaigning for this CLP policy, and to ensure that Labour Party members receive full information and analysis on the issue, including the Scrutiny report on the HDV and relevant sections (eg 7.22 to 7.34) of the council's Estate Renewal, Rehousing and Payments Policy.

5. Calls on other Labour elected representatives (including David Lammy and Sadiq Khan) to actively oppose further progress of the HDV and to support the campaign for this policy. We ask Sadiq Khan to consider the lack of genuine consultation and the major loss of social housing consequent on the HDV plans, contradicting his criteria for acceptable housing regeneration.
'You say Explore alternative models that maintain public ownership' but really what else can you do, the council isn't rich, bringing in some private money and sharing the benefits is what we all do when we try and buy property. If you think the Tottenham Labour Party can invent a new way of building a new mid rise city centre on a wink and prayer, good luck to you but I think if we're all honest we know that no new alternative is going to appear.

Now that's fine if we want to lock the borders down and start building walls but if we don't, if we want to be liberal to new comers and we don't want to kill our green and pleasant land, industrial estates owned by the council, behind shopping centre's which are next to disused gas tanks, need to get redeveloped.

The fact that the council, could keep the freehold essentially, allows the public to benefit in this venture forever and is a great thing in principle and to be applauded.

To be honest its the first decent idea I've ever known Haringey council to have ever had.
I don't say anything; the General Committee of Tottenham Labour Party do.



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