Friday, 4 December 2015

Changing London: Tottenham Court Road

New 'South Plaza' portal at Tottenham Court Road © Transport for London

New information technology and social media has 'monetarised our private lives', according to Jerry Harris' engaging thought-piece on 'Transnational Capital and the Technology of Domination and Desire'.
Hmmm...maybe...but mobile devices and social media also often sorely test my skills as a professional London pedestrian.
You've probably encountered this too.
People who don't look where they're walking as they assume their mobile phone miraculously deploys a new-fangled PNA - or Pedestrian Navigation App.

Rapid change
Totally encapsulated in their device bubble, they also might be missing out on London's ongoing rapid change.
Today, for example, the newly opened 'South Plaza' egress from an ever-changing Tottenham Court Road station escalates me from the bowels of the Northern Line tube onto Charing Cross Road.
The new entrance, garlanded by French artist Daniel Buren's colourful artworks, forms part of Transport for London's £500 million transformation of Tottenham Court Road station that serves the Northern and Central tube lines.

Centre Point
Look up from the escalators through a 15-metre high glass canopy and you'll see London's 34-storey Centre Point tower, rising 117 metres from the junction where the eastern end of Oxford Street meets the southern tip of Tottenham Court Road.
Completed in 1966, property tycoon Harry Hyam's Grade II-listed Centre Point stands completely cloaked.
The tower is undergoing its own transformation from a dowdy 20th Century office block into a new plaza with piazza, 82 apartments, 13 so-called 'affordable' homes, a pool, spa and, of course, a ubiquitous new set of chain shops for London.

The old station ticket hall that fused confused tourists and harassed London commuters in one cramped scrum is now replaced by a space probably large enough to swing five cats.
TfL say around 150,000 people use Tottenham Court Road station daily. This will rise to 200,000 when TfL-run Crossrail services call at Tottenham Court from 2018.
But Crossrail - London's new east-west London railway - and Tottenham Court Road's 'over-station development' hasn't pleased everyone. 
Controversially, it involved the demolition of buildings, businesses and ways of life for people on Dean Street, Diadem Court, Great Chapel Street and Oxford Street itself.

Some things don't change though.
'Dogs must be carried', barks the sign at the top and bottom of an escalator.
Darn, I brought my mobile phone but keep forgetting to bring a dog.

© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, December 2015

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Labour Party's new leader: Jeremy Corbyn

A suited Jeremy Corbyn in Westminster © Paul Coleman, London Intelligence 2015
"The Labour Party is now a threat to our national security, our economic security and your family's security," says Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking about the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour's new leader.
BBC Breakfast also hosted a debate about whether Corbyn's casual clothes constitute a threat to our nation's fashion industry.
Yet, as the photo shows, Corbyn can cut a dash in a dark suit (centre).

Corbyn was photographed outside St Margaret's Church in Parliament Square on 27 March, 2014, attending the funeral of veteran Labour politician Tony Benn.
(Benn passed away on 14 March 2014).
At that time, the idea that Corbyn would be elected as Labour's new leader would probably have seemed far-fetched.

Click on image to enlarge.
© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, September 2015

Thursday, 11 June 2015

London Real Estate Forum 2015: a barometer of London's transformation

LREF 2015 delegates talk over Pipers' London model © London Intelligence 2015

Property talk hums through London's air.
Londoners can seem to be constantly on duty servants of a property market god. 
Whether a believer or heretic, it's impossible to ignore, especially as this omnipotent real estate deity is a harbinger of fast and vast looming transformations of London. 
Property world delegates at the third annual London Real Estate Forum, held in gilded Mayfair this week (10-11 June), warmly herald many of these convulsions.
Developers, estate agents, architects, urban designers, local politicians, planners and regeneration experts number amongst the congregation gathered in a marquee ‘village’ on the north side of Berkeley Square.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson supports LREF 2015. The event is hosted by the City of Westminster, media ‘partnered’ by the Financial Times, and dark-suited security guards patrol its perimeter.

The London Real Estate Forum acts as a useful barometer of how property-driven transformations continue to rattle many of the capital’s traditional neighbourhoods and shake up long-established family and social networks.   
LREF shows that housing is still primarily valued as a commodity for profitable speculation rather than treat it as infrastructure for a more direct and inclusive form of regeneration that all Londoners can genuinely afford.

Another strong signal from LREF is that market conditions threaten old London dichotomies with extinction over the next decade or so; central London and the suburbs, North versus South London, rich prime central areas and deprived inner city wards. 
LREF reveals that Far Eastern investors and investors are scoping outlying areas such as Tottenham, Croydon, Southall and Woolwich - and they can be seen introducing themselves to local politicians.
In the next five years or so, London's socio-economic inequalities might be swept under the property market’s fabric - albeit chiefly due to rising prices and rents sweeping Londoners on average and lower incomes out of their London.
Looking at LREF’s models and images, it’s clear too that London is coming up in the world – literally. 
To achieve ‘super-density’ – and maybe even Shanghai and Hong Kong ‘hyper-density’ - London’s skyline is set to become a forest of towers, both residential and commercial.
With interest rates sealed low - and the world's political economy in turmoil - the planet's elites see London 'real estate' as a safe haven and even a good long-term bet for their wealth.

For more on LREF 2015 visit

© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, June 2015

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

The London Real Estate Forum 2015

Mayor of London Boris Johnson at LREF 2014 © Paul Coleman, London Intelligence 2014

Organisers hope warm summer sunshine will once again flare through Berkeley Square’s majestic Victorian plane trees for at least two days next week (Wednesday 10 - Thursday 11 June).
The London Real Estate Forum 2015 promises to transmit a steady stream of signals that will pinpoint the future direction of the capital’s property market - and hint at its impact on London’s wider political economy, writes Paul Coleman.

Day One on Wednesday inside the event's Berkeley Square marquees focuses on London’s office market whilst Thursday’s theme centres more on the three ‘r’s – residential, retail, and regeneration.
It will be interesting to see if more delegates than last year attend LREF 2015 briefings on development and investment opportunities arising in outer London boroughs; for instance, in more risky London areas targeted for housing-led ‘regeneration’, such as Tottenham, and parts of Barnet, Croydon, Ealing and Southwark.
Local authorities will try to use LREF 2015 to both formally and informally alert developers and investors to development opportunities within their borough – similar to the way they seek to use the annual MIPIM real estate jamboree held at Cannes on the south of France. Elected local councillors and local authority regeneration and planning officers due to speak at LREF 2015 include:
  • Councillor Robert Davis (Westminster City Council)
  • Cllr Daniel Astaire (Westminster)
  • Cllr Ravi Govindia (Wandsworth)
  • Cllr Alan Strickland (Haringey)
  • Ed Watson (Camden)
  • Stephen Platts (Southwark)
  • Pat Hayes (Ealing)
  • Stephen McDonald (Barnet).
Organisers say LREF 2015 will be different than the past two events as it features a ‘showcase area showing significant development across all 33 London boroughs’.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson addressed LREF 2014 delegates.
The main signal emanating from LREF 2014 suggested capital would continue to flow into London’s booming segmented property markets – residential, commercial office, retail, hotel, and student accommodation. This proved right. However, unlike the mutually beneficial relationship between bees and flowers, this capital inflow has not enabled Londoners on average and lower incomes to make their lives bloom with secure and genuinely affordable homes. 
Residential property market investment, both by short-term speculators, or by longer-term players like sovereign wealth funds, continues to thrust central London house prices and rents beyond the reach of many Londoners.
And, worryingly, this over-heating market is driving outer London prices and rents beyond their reach too.

The full version of this article can be viewed at London Intelligence.

© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, June 2015

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Extending Right-to-Buy to housing association tenants

Housing associations will be compelled to sell homes to tenants at discounts
© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence 2015

The Conservative majority government announces on Tuesday, 26 May 2015 what it calls ‘landmark changes to spread home ownership to millions of working people’.
Welcome to a pillar of Prime Minister David Cameron’s ‘blue-collar conservatism’, writes Paul Coleman.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark says tomorrow’s Queen’s Speech (27 May) includes a Housing Bill that “will offer over a million people a helping hand onto the housing ladder”.
The Bill will extend to England’s 1.3 million housing association tenants the right to buy their homes at ‘significant discounts’ similar to those offered to council tenants.
Until now, ‘Right-to-Buy’ applied only to council tenants, or to those whose homes were transferred from a council to a housing association.
“Just because you’ve signed a social tenancy doesn’t mean you should be signing away your aspiration to own a home,” says Clark.

Clark says housing association homes that are sold under this extended 'Right-to-Buy' will be replaced on a ‘one-for-one basis’.
The sting in the tail is that local authorities will be forced to fund this policy for housing association tenants.
The Housing Bill requires councils to sell their ‘most expensive housing when it falls vacant’, says the government.
The government estimates this will raise £4.5 billion a year.
Receipts from the sale of these council homes will compensate housing associations for having to sell their homes below market value - but compels housing associations to provide new ‘one-for-one’ replacement homes with the same number of bedrooms in the same area.

Ann Powers, Professor of Social Policy at the London School of Economics, says: “It’s probably an unworkable policy. It’s very unlikely that local authority sales will actually fund the right-to-buy of housing association homes.”
The Institute for Fiscal Studies say the new policy amounts to a ‘significant giveaway’ to the 1.3m housing tenants across England by ‘selling public assets.  
The IFS said in April 2015 that ‘sales of expensive local authority properties would reduce the availability of social housing in the most expensive areas, thereby creating clearer divisions between areas where richer and poorer households are located’.
It added: ‘There are considerable uncertainties surrounding the revenues that can be raised from sales of expensive properties…Given this uncertainty…there is a risk that these policies will lead to a further depletion of the social housing stock.'

But Clark insists the government is “creating a level playing field”.
Any social tenant, whether in a council or housing association home, will be able to buy their home at a significant and publicly funded discount.
House building will also rise, says the government.
Housing associations will be able to use sales revenues to invest in more affordable homes.
Council housing waiting lists will be reduced.
The government says rather than one rented property, there will be two – an older home with a new homeowner, and a new replacement home available for those in need on the waiting list.

But critics of the government say only a relatively small number of people will benefit.
They also say it will put more people in housing debt – and that even if sold homes are replaced ‘one-for-one’, most people waiting for a council homes will not be able to afford the new replacement ‘affordable’ properties.
The government increased ‘Right-to-Buy’ discounts for council tenants in 2012 to a maximum of £103,900 in London and £77,900 outside the capital – and said that sold council homes would be replaced ‘one-for-one’.
Around 40,000 council homes were sold between 2010 and 2015.
But only one in nineteen sold council homes were replaced by a newly built property.
Since the increased discounts in 2012, some 26,000 council homes were sold with just 2,700 replacements started.

Clark said on BBC Radio 4’s Today show (26 May) that ‘one-for-one’ replacement was not the objective in 2012  - that the coalition government sought only to increase the number of council homes being built rather than replace each one sold.
He also puts the blame on councils and housing associations for failing to replace sold council homes with new properties over the past three years. “There is a lag,” says Clark.

“But this new policy is to replace sold stock,” adds Clark. “Every property that is sold will be replaced on a one-to-one basis."
Clark insists the policy will increase the overall housing stock without acknowledging it could reduce the number of council homes and only – at best – maintain the existing number of ‘affordable’ homes.
He adds if housing associations fail to replace sold homes within three years, they will have to return the money with interest to the Homes and Communities Agency.
The HCA will then arrange for those replacement homes to be built.

Other detractors say the policy transfers public assets in the form of council homes and public land to private individuals and ultimately to private sector landlords and developers.
Housing associations also see the extension of ‘Right-to-Buy’ as a denigration of their charitable origins and their right to function as social housing providers. 
Some speak of taking legal action against the government to protect their assets.

The Housing Bill also includes a plan for 200,000 'starter' homes, offered at a 20% discount to first-time buyers aged under 40 - and a right for people to apply for permission to build their own homes on designated land.

© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, 2015

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Town Hall security guards refuse entry to Sweets Way and West Hendon estate tenants

© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence 2015

© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence 2015
© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence 2015

Tenants and residents of the Sweets Way and West Hendon estates gather outside Hendon Town Hall.
It's a bright, warm Wednesday evening (13 May).
They want to hand petitions containing 200,000 signatures to Barnet Council leader Richard Cornelius.
They're protesting against the developer-led 'regeneration' of their estates.

They include children of families either compelled or evicted to move from secure council tenancies to private sector tenancies in other parts of the borough.
But private security guards bar the front door - as police look on.
Younger protesters and children vainly try to gain entry through a ground floor window opened by council staff.
Eventually, only a handful of protesters are allowed into the public building with their petitions.

© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence 2015
© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence 2015
© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence 2015

© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, May 2015

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Who is the woman on the balcony? What does she say about London's housing debacle?

The woman on the balcony © London Intelligence 2015

She’s poised like a Tsarina on a palace balcony.
Two topiarised olive trees flank her, like sentries.
She’s clad in candid evening sunshine and a clinging, pristine white, sleeveless sports top with matching white bottoms.

Where is she?
Well, she’s right where she’s meant to be.
Inside your head.
Does her image stir you? Fire your imagine. Will she turn with all that flowing hair and fluid bronzed skin, face you and, knowingly, reciprocate your gaze?

Who is she?
Maybe she is like you. Or, at least matches your desired self-image? 
Does she possess the ‘beach body’ you want and embody the lifestyle you crave?

The manicured fantasy image of the woman on the balcony is conceived by marketing people – a 'species' once labelled as ‘Satan’s little helpers’ by the American comedian Bill Hicks.
The ad’s message says splash out and buy a new luxury apartment – and you too could live that dream-come-true lifestyle – with all its potential sexual potency.
Chaps, the woman on the balcony might like you.
Ladies, you could be like the woman on the balcony.

It shouldn’t surprise us that marketing people in the developer-led 'regeneration' business concoct sexualised images of women to sell new luxury homes. 
We live in an epoch of lifestyle advertising targeted at consumers who desire exciting lives. 
Advertisers try to show how their products and services meet these desires.
Many ad folk believe sex sells almost everything, including real estate to wealthy newcomers.
And, that belief clearly stretches to selling new luxury apartments that are replacing the West Hendon public housing estate in north-west London.

The image on the site of new luxury flats replacing council homes © Paul Coleman, London Intelligence 2015

West Hendon residents protest against loss of their homes

Certainly, the 'woman on the balcony' is not meant to represent the West Hendon estate's current tenants and leaseholders.
Many have lived on the estate for decades.
They now see their 680 homes undergoing phased demolition and their estate being rebranded as 'Hendon Waterside' - a new Barratt development of 2,000 mainly private luxury apartments with an average price of £415,000.
None of those 600-plus homes rented to council tenants will be replaced 'like-for-like' on the rebuilt estate or elsewhere in the host borough of Barnet.
Seen from this angle, the woman on the balcony symbolises a net loss of council homes.

Barnet Council consented to the development - and sold part of the council estate for just £3 on the condition that development partnership Barratt-Metropolitan agreed to build some 'affordable' homes.
Yet few decanted tenants will even be able to afford the 287 'affordable' shared ownership properties being built at 'Hendon Waterside' by Metropolitan Housing Trust.
'Short-term' low-income tenants, many of whom have lived on the west Hendon estate for five years and longer, are being evicted and displaced to other parts of Barnet and further still across London.
And leaseholders won't be able to afford a 'Hendon Waterside' apartment and balcony - as compensation levels for the loss of their homes are too low.

Prototype 'Pulse' resident dude as envisaged by marketing people © London Intelligence 2015

'They're arriving' at Pulse development near Colindale tube station © London Intelligence 2015

Similar ‘regeneration’ marketing images can be found at other new expensive private developments in London.
Take a look at 'Pulse', built by Fairview on the site of a former National Health Service hospital at Colindale, an area just a short bus ride along the Edgware Road from the West Hendon estate.
They show the intended target markets of buyers - young, white professional couples, 'hipsters', and affluent cash-rich young folk from Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. 

At nearby Beaufort Park, images of bronzed, tanned and gleaming toothed people abound.
Catwalking along a 'Mediterranean style boulevard', they look less like real residents but more like models who've just stepped out of a catalogue.
Certainly, there's no representation of working class Londoners, or elderly folk. 
No images that depict working Londoners born of Asian, Caribbean or African origins.
Or of people with disabilities.
And, definitely nobody from the nearby west Hendon or Grahame Park council estates.

The same is true of marketing images on sites elsewhere in London, such as Barratt's Royal Arsenal development in Woolwich.
Working Londoners on average and lower incomes desperately need genuinely affordable homes. 
But they're simply not the intended target market for these luxury apartments.
Just ask the ornamental mannequin on the balcony.
She'll tell you.

Pulse images aim to tempt younger affluent overseas buyers © London Intelligence 2015
Marketing imagery at Pulse © London Intelligence 2015

Marketing image at Beaufort Park © Paul Coleman, London Intelligence 2015

Marketing image at Royal Arsenal © Paul Coleman, London Intelligence 2015

To read the full version of this feature article, visit:

© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, May 2015

Friday, 8 May 2015

Three tribes in the UK after the General Election May 2015

London's only daily paper always backs the Conservatives

London bucked the national trend with Labour winning more seven more seats in the capital than in the 2010 General Election.
This didn't stop the Conservative Party winning a working majority across the UK in the 2015 General Election held on 7 May) - or prevent pundits from saying Labour needs a radical rethink, especially with the London mayoral elections due in May 2016.

Labour won 45 seats in London in the General Election 2015, up by seven from 2010.
Conservatives won 27 seats, one less than five years ago.
Liberal Democrats won only one seat, losing six of their 2010 seats.
The election splits the United Kingdom roughly into five main tribes. 

Conservative voters fearful of losing their slither of housing market prosperity to the extent they vote for austerity and cuts to public services.

Labour voters in a post-industrial archipelago from south Wales to the Midlands and north-east who would rather spit in their own socks than vote Conservative.

Scottish 'red nationalists' advocating Swedish-style social democracy and devolved power. 

English nationalists who blame Britain's decline as a world economic and geo-political player force on the European Union and immigration.

Liberals and Greens who believe the market can be regulated to guarantee socially beneficial outcomes.

Here's some reactions to the election outcome from people on Twitter.

'Just woke up and it wasn't a nightmare. The spectacle of millions of turkeys voting for Christmas was real. How truly dreadful.'

'Goodbye NHS.
Goodbye welfare state.
Goodbye human rights.
Hello in/out EU referendum.
Hello Trident renewal.
Hello £30bn more austerity.'

'Ed Balls is gone. Labour's slightly slower austerity message wasn't supported.' @jeremyhoad

What a majority Conservative government means for housing » Housing »

'1 million @TheGreenParty votes = 1 seat
10 million Conservative votes = 325 seats.
And our voting system isn't broken?'

'There is no parliamentary or legal road to stopping these cuts, we must take to the streets. It is the only power we have.'

(These tweets appear here merely as a snapshot of some of the reactions to the election outcome; it doesn't mean they're endorsed!)

© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, May 2015

Friday, 1 May 2015

Questions and a few answers: Broadwater Farm and Lordship Rec

Broadwater Farm residents demand answers about future of their homes
© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence 2015

© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence 2015

On 23 April, Broadwater Farm estate residents and Lordship Rec users demand to know if Haringey councillors and officers are planning to demolish their homes and redevelop the estate - and build on the Rec used for decades by Broadwater United's local young footballers.

Haringey included Broadwater Farm and Lordship Rec as 'Site Allocation 63' in its draft Local Plan for Haringey 2011-26 - that lists potential development sites across the North London borough.

On 5 March, Helen Steel submits a Freedom of Information request asking Haringey Council to show 'correspondence, emails, minutes and any other documents relating to the inclusion of areas shown on SA63...'

On 7 April, Haringey's Head of Strategic Planning Matthew Patterson replies: 'The Council does not hold any correspondence or minutes relating to the inclusion of the areas shown outlined on the map SA63 Broadwater the decision to include it was taken as part of a verbal discussion between council officers.'

On 30 April, London Intelligence asks Haringey Council to identify 'the officers who discussed and then decided to include the areas shown outlined on SA63 Broadwater Farm'.
London Intelligence also asks, 'why are there no minutes or record of this important discussion and decision?'
Thirdly, 'how is Haringey Council seeking to reassure Broadwater Farm residents that they won't lose their homes - and similarly, Broadwater United's young people that they won't lose their football facilities?'

Today, (1 May), a Haringey Council spokesman replies: 'While we've carried out some initial studies on proposals for Broadwater Farm, there are no firm plans for the estate, Lordship Rec or the surrounding area.
'We know how much local people value the excellent work of Broadwater United and the football pitch, and we guarantee that any proposals would see the facilities retained or replaced.'
The spokesman adds: 'There is no suggestion that any redevelopment will definitely happen and we'll be speaking to residents this summer about what improvements they would like to see as part of our commitment that every family has a modern high-quality home.'

© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, May 2015

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Living within the 'Red Line': Broadwater Farm and Lordship Rec

Broadwater Farm estate residents gather to discuss 'proposal'
© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence 2015
'Red line' around Broadwater Farm and part of Lordship Rec

A planning officer draws a red line on a map.
The red line troubles some 250 people.
So troubled, that they gather in a north London community centre to talk about this red line for the bulk of their midweek spring evening (23 April).

In the United States, redlining is an infamous discriminatory practice, writes Paul Coleman.
Banks and insurance companies refuse loans, mortgages and cover to people living within poorer redlined areas.
In 21st Century London, property developers, councillors and planners redline housing estates they want demolished and redeveloped with new luxury private homes.
Lower income residents are decanted or dispossessed, and displaced.
They are replaced by affluent - and often very wealthy - private market buyers, renters and overseas investors.
Developers and councils seductively robe these outcomes as ‘regeneration’.

© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence 2015

Broadwater Farm
Haringey Council planners designate this redlined Tottenham neighbourhood as Site Allocation 63 in its draft Local Plan for Haringey 2011-2026 – a plan listing potential development and ‘regeneration’ sites across the entire borough.
The Council says the plan still requires full approval from councillors and is ‘currently an emerging draft document’.
Haringey Council says it needs to meet ‘a target of nearly 20,000 modern, high-quality new homes built by 2026, with a focus on regeneration areas in Tottenham and Wood Green’.

On the map SA 63 includes the Broadwater Farm council estate and the adjacent Lordship Recreation Area, a large and locally popular public park.
The red line also encloses privately owned homes – and homes rented from housing associations - on Somerset Close, Lido Square, Moira Close and the south side of Lordship Lane.
People on average and lower incomes fear SA63 means their homes could be demolished.
Children could lose their playing fields.
Families could be displaced to other parts of the borough.
And, a once scarred yet now healed community could be broken up.

Julian Secker, who lives in the Tangmere block at Broadwater Farm, and is a committee member of the Broadwater Farm Residents Association, says council documents “clearly show that Haringey Council is clearly considering large-scale demolition and rebuilding but there are no definite plans yet”.
Secker tells residents at the meeting to look at a list of Council sources that show Haringey’s ambitions. They include a reference to Steve Kelly, a Haringey Council planning officer, who ‘when challenged at a February meeting on Broadwater Farm, admitted that Lordship Rec would be needed for housing for people displaced by any demolitions on Broadwater Farm’.
“It’s not about improving flats under Decent Homes work,” warns Secker. “If Haringey’s Site Allocations plan is improved, in principle the whole of the Broadwater Farm estate could face demolition.”

Secker says Haringey will not replace the estate with the same amount of social housing that currently exists at Broadwater Farm. “Haringey’s own internal documents show this – and it means if you’re a council tenant, you probably won’t be rehoused on any development built on the site of this estate.”
Higher and high-density towers could replace the estate’s two 19-storey towers, low-rise blocks and surrounding houses. “It’d be private housing, shared ownership and affordable rental homes priced at around 65% of the local market rental average,” says Secker.
“Most of us won’t come back to this area,” says Secker. “We’ll be moved to other estates.”
Secker recognises the veiled importance of Haringey Council’s “vague language”.
The Council utters careful words such as ‘improvement and renewal’.
“I’ve heard Haringey use this same language before when it consulted Love Lane and Northumberland Park estate residents,” says Secker.
Love Lane and Northumberland Park are council estates now threatened with demolition and redevelopment by the building of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club’s new stadium - the centre-fold standout project of Haringey's developer-led plans to 'regenerate' Tottenham.

Broadwater Farm estate © London Intelligence 2015

Secker accepts Broadwater Farm has maintenance and repair problems but Decent Homes work would sort these out.
The government has provided £160 million to the Decent Homes programme to help local authorities repair council homes.
But Haringey says it requires a 'strategy for improving Haringey’s housing estates where simple refurbishment through the Decent Homes programme is not possible’.

Residents and local activists believe they have a democratic right to know exactly why councillors and officers want to ‘red-line’, demolish and redevelop Broadwater Farm – and carve out a chunk of Lordship Rec for development too.
But, by the start of May 2015, Haringey Council seems reluctant to reveal its thinking.
Helen Steel makes a Freedom of Information Request on 5 March asking to see ‘correspondence, emails, minutes, and any other documents relating to the inclusion of the areas shown on…SA63…and in particular the inclusion of Lordship Recreation Ground…’
Matthew Patterson, Haringey Council’s Head of Strategic Planning, issues the following reply on 7 April.
It’s a classic response – in the sense of a classic perversion of local democratic principles.
Patterson says: ‘The council does not hold any correspondence or minutes relating to the inclusion of the areas shown outlined on the map at SA63 Broadwater Farm…as the decision to include it was taken as part of a verbal discussion between council officers.’

Steel isn’t satisfied.
On 7 April, Steel repeats her request, stating: ‘The planning department must have some record of how and when the proposal was first made and who was responsible for taking the decision to include it…’
On 12 April, Steel repeats her request again.
Haringey acknowledges this request on 17 April and promises to let Steel ‘know the outcome of our investigation by 12 May’.
‘Can you please explain why you seek to delay your response until 12 May?’ asks Steel on 25 April.
‘That is longer than the 20 working days set for FOI responses. Given my request was first made on 5 March and you are now outside the time limit for providing information you should be expediting your response not dragging your heels.'

Back at the Broadwater Farm Community Centre, residents listen to Dave Morris, a seasoned Tottenham housing activist and member of the Haringey Federation of Residents Associations.
“It’s only a proposal, at the moment," says Morris, trying to emphasise the conditional status of Haringey’s ‘plan’.
“But we want to knock it on the head straightaway and get it withdrawn.”

The Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham gained worldwide notoriety when PC Keith Blakelock was murdered during the violent 1985 riots that followed the death of local resident Cynthia Jarrett in a police raid.
But over the past 30 years residents have transformed the quality of life on Broadwater Farm, working in partnership with a raft of Haringey councillors and officers.
The estate might look similar architecturally to its early days but now functions very differently.
It now boasts a health centre, children’s play areas, bus routes, concierges, and most recently, a state-of-the-art new school.
And, on a bright chilly April evening, supervised children clamber over good quality playground apparatus and young lads receive football training.

Community-run Lordship Rec near Broadwater Farm © London Intelligence 2015
Lordship Rec is protected from development by a covenant.
Co-managed by Haringey Council and the community, Lordship Rec spans a large area adjacent to Broadwater Farm.
Lordship Rec park users and the 1,300 members of Friends of Lordship Rec have also worked with local community groups and Haringey Council’s Parks Service to transform Tottenham’s largest public park.
Residents and council officers secured £5 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund to build a new flower-lined channel for the River Moselle, a bike dirt track, an ‘environmental’ café and classroom, community gardens, refurbished theatre, and renovation of an enclosed sports pitch.
Lordship Rec and its sports facilities are also vital to Broadwater United.
The club took over and transformed a derelict space.
Twenty years on, United’s children’s and youth teams continue to play football and receive coaching.

Clasford Stirling, Broadwater Farm’s popular youth and community worker, speaks to the residents.
Many seem reassured by his presence in the hall.
Stirling says 300-400 young people use these facilities.
“One of them just asked me, ‘Are we going to lose our football pitch?’
“They don’t want to lose it,” says Stirling.
“This is our home.
“Haringey should’ve sat down and discussed this proposal with us first.
“It’s wrong to bully us with this proposal.
“I’ll be standing here with everyone fighting this.
“Our voice should be heard.
“We care about the children here.
“And care about this community.”

Broadwater Farm community stalwart speaks to residents
© London Intelligence 2015
Stirling knows Haringey Council very well – and over the years has established good working relationships with many councillors and officers.
But now even Stirling seems mystified at Haringey’s ‘proposal’ to demolish and rebuild the estate, especially as people in the local community and at the council have invested so much time and resources to turn Broadwater Farm into a thriving community.
“It’s crazy,” says Stirling.
“Thirty years ago, Broadwater Farm was branded as the worst estate in Europe,” adds Stirling.
“Nobody wanted to come and live here.
“But the community stepped up and showed genuine hardworking people in the council that we wanted to change the estate but also the local area that we live in.
“I can see some good people in this hall – and we know people who have passed away – who’ve put in so much effort to improve Broadwater Farm estate, the park, and the local area.
“There’s still some problems we need to deal with.
“But we’ve reached a stage in our lives where we’re happy."

The inclusion of Lordship Rec outwardly looks like many other developer-led and council-backed regeneration schemes coming out of the ground across London.
Acquire a piece of land.
Build new homes.
Decant residents from the existing estate into those homes.
Demolish the estate.
However, another internal Haringey document from October 2014 shows the council’s own Parks and Leisure Department warning planning officers of legal complications should the Lordship Rec plan be advanced.
‘The proposals would seem to include the development of part of Lordship Rec which has recently been the recipient of a multi-million pound regeneration project,’ says a parks officer.
‘It is likely that any proposals to develop this land will result in a claim for the return of external funding for the project and face high levels of organised opposition.’

It’s a muted but prescient warning.
And, not just because of that £5m Lottery funding.
Opposition to the demolition of Broadwater Farm – and with it years of painstaking community work - is likely to be 'high' and 'organised'.
As for Lordship Rec, Morris says: “We’re not against improvements but they must be led by, and be in the interests of the community.
“Not by property developers and pen pushers sitting in offices drawing up ridiculous plans.”
“There’s no way we’re going to let anyone interfere with one blade of grass on Lordship Rec without them first getting permission from the community.” 

Broadwater Farm estate in April 2015  © London Intelligence 2015

© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, April 2015