Bowes and Bounds Connected

A Community Network for Bowes Park and Bounds Green

The Haringey Development Vehicle – a request to our elected Councillors

The challenge of providing council housing and genuinely affordable housing nationally, especially in London, has been a focal point of the recent national election campaign. I understand and appreciate the pressure that many Local Authorities have been put under because of the cuts that have flowed from Central Government and the constraints these cuts impose on local authority housing policy.

On 3rd July 2017, Haringey Council is poised to sign an agreement with Lendlease for the largest private sector led redevelopment project in the UK (with a potential value of more than 2 billion pounds) I request that Councillors reconsider the changed circumstances in which this agreement will now be made.

The initial decision to proceed with the Haringey Development Vehicle was made in a different political & economic climate. It was taken before the Referendum vote for Brexit and all of the consequent uncertainty that looks likely to continue for the foreseeable future. It was made before the disastrous experience of Southwark Council’s partnership with Lendlease became fully apparent (i.e. substantial financial losses to the public purse, the loss of over 1,300 council homes, the social-economic exclusion of local people in the subsequent gentrified redevelopment, and the dubious conduct of Lendlease as a company).

Lendlease in Southwark 

Also the decision to proceed with the HDV was made in the context of a then new Tory Government that must have appeared to be firmly consolidated in office until 2020. This has now changed since last week’s General Election and I suspect that, within a matter of weeks or months, there will be a change of national government. The Council is on the verge of making a massive decision which places both the housing and financial strategy in Haringey at risk from the conflicting priorities of private sector shareholders.

The Labour Party nationally  is committed to build “at least 100,000 council and housing association homes a year for genuinely affordable rent or sale” by the end of the next parliament. This represents a significant increase on the Coalition’s highest output of building 67,000 homes in 2014/15 (most of which were not genuinely affordable). This commitment is also consistent with the policies recently set out by Mayor Sadiq Khan and the Greater London Authority here:

Mayor of London - Homes for Londoners November 2016

Faced with the prospect of significant new national investments in housing by the Labour Party, and given that the Constituency Labour Parties of Tottenham and of Hornsey & Wood Green both oppose the HDV, Councillors have an opportunity at the Civic Centre on Tuesday 13th June 2017 to pause and reflect on the new context in which their proposals would take place. The Overview & Scrutiny Committee has produced a further detailed analysis of the changed economic circumstances in which the HDV would operate, the consequent risks incurred and a raft constructive recommendations to address the many legitimate concerns raised:

Overview & Scrutiny Committee 13/06/17

With the recent re-election of both of Haringey's MPs on increased majorities, it is clear that the majority of voters in Haringey support the aims of the Labour Party and its welcome emphasis on less privatisation and more social housing. I ask that all Councillors to take more time to reflect on a monumental decision that risks subordinating the future of thousands of Council properties and the livelihoods of their tenants to the profit motive of a private sector property company, to more fully consider the risks involved and the alternatives now available.

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