Haringey’s newly-formed Labour administration has confirmed that it will abandon its predecessor’s plan to form a joint venture company with a major regeneration specialist with a view to redeveloping council-owned land and increasing housing supply.
In keeping with an election manifesto pledge, the council’s cabinet last night voted not to proceed with forming the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV), which had been intended to deliver 6,400 new dwellings in Wood Green, Tottenham and Muswell Hill, 40% of them affordable, along with new public amenities and retail space.
A report for the cabinet by council officers said that discontinuing the HDV could reduce or delay new housing supply in the borough, resulting in the council missing targets, losing income and finding it harder to attract private investment to the borough, but new council leader Joseph Ejiofor, writing in the same report, explained that the new administration takes a “different view” from the last one about the HDV’s balance of risks and benefits (see cabinet member introduction, page 28).
The cabinet received a personal deputation from Lendlease Europe chief executive Dan Labbad, in which he stressed Haringey’s urgent need for new homes, recognised that the council “rightly wants to stay in control of public assets and minimise its exposure to risk” and maintained that it is common ground that the council “needs capable partners” if it is secure the housing outcomes it seeks.
Labbad urged the cabinet to delay its decision about the HDV in order to explore other ways in which they might work together. He had previously made the same case in letters to the council and also warned that if the company’s status as “successful bidder” for the HDV contract was removed “we will have no choice but to protect Lendlease’s interests, given our very significant investment over the last two and a half years”. The officers’s report said that under an existing agreement, the council will have to replay Lendlease £520,275.
Labbad also said it was unfortunate that the HDV public procurement process prevented Lendlease from engaging with local people. A campaign against the HDV, led by local members of Momentum, the pressure group formed to support the leadership of the Labour Party by Jeremy Corbyn, claims that “the people of Haringey” brought about the collapse of the HDV.
The report to the Haringey cabinet reproduces findings from a five-month consultation of Tottenham residents by the organisation Soundings, conducted in 2013. These included a desire among residents of the Northumberland Park area, which contains a housing estate that would have been redeveloped under the HDV, for improvements to existing housing, more shops and community spaces and a cleaner, safer and more attractive environment (pages 88, 89).
The new Haringey cabinet includes several supporters of Corbyn and members of Momentum, including Ejiofor and his deputy Emine Ibrahim, who is also cabinet member for housing and estate renewal, both of whom hold national positions in the organisation. One local activist anticipated the new Haringey administration being the country’s first “Corbyn Council”. The council intends to set up a house building company based on different model from the HDV. A new report by think tank Centre For London says there is considerable scope for an increase in council-led housebuilding across the capital to be increased.
A webcast of last night’s cabinet meeting can be viewed via here.