Haringey council’s plans to demolish seven estates in the north London borough took another step forward this week. The £2 billion redevelopment project is the biggest of its kind in London and will set a dangerous precedent if it’s allowed to go ahead.
A Northumberland Park estate tenants and residents association meeting on Monday evening was told that the final decision to push ahead with the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) will be on 20 June.
Public Participation Consultation & Research (PPCR) has been contracted to the tune of £80,000 a year, Haringey council confirmed to Socialist Worker. PPCR’s job is to legitimise the demolitions.
It has produced a sham Baseline Expectations Report based on dodgy surveys of residents. The firm claims to have knocked on every door in Northumberland Park but Socialist Worker talked to several residents who said they had not been consulted.
“There’s been no consultation, no knocking on doors,” Moriam Islam told Socialist Worker.
Two “resident advisers” from PPCR spoke to the meeting on Monday. One of them, Loraine Ophelia, said, “We need to move onto the next stage. We will commence developing the aspirations with the Haringey development vehicle.”
That means that tenants and residents only have until 7 May to respond to PPCR’s sham report.
The report includes a section entitled “Key Guarantees”. But these aren’t guarantees from the council, they are questions imagined by PPCR on tenants’ behalf.
“There is currently little confirmed information available to residents and without a clear offer from the council it is hard for them to take control of their futures. Residents need information, and through effective consultation they want the opportunity to negotiate the best possible deal for themselves, their families and the community,” the section concludes, offering no solutions.
Haringey council regeneration manager Ed Richards said council tenants would be guaranteed the right to return on equivalent “council rents and conditions”.
But the estate will no longer be owned by the council.
The reason given by the council for not giving tenants a vote on the regeneration is that there is no transfer of ownership. But that’s not true.
Once the HDV is set up, the council will no longer have full control of rents and conditions. Property firm Lendlease, the other partner in the 50/50 venture, will put pressure on them to raise rents and there will be no guarantees in the new tenancies.
Lendlease admitted to fraud in the US in 2012. Its fine amounted to almost £45 million. Tenants should have no illusions in this firm of vultures that wants to pick the bones of council housing.
And the contempt Haringey council has shown residents undermines its claim that it will be a moderating influence on Lendlease.
The central demand of the campaign is that tenants and residents should be given a vote on the redevelopment proposals. But councillors have refused to acknowledge the demand, because they know the proposals will get voted down.
Richards refused to answer Socialist Worker’s questions at Monday’s meeting about why the council was not allowing a vote. Activists are right to keep that demand at the centre of the campaign.