Haringey Council is determined to match its strong ambitions for growth and physical change across the borough with economic and social benefits for local people and communities.
That was one of the key threads to emerge in an NLA On Location visit and conference in Wood Green last week, at which Haringey leader Cllr Claire Kober set out her stall in a keynote address.
‘For me it boils down to the fact that for too many residents in the borough it doesn’t matter that this is the greatest city on earth because actually this city provides very little for them, she said. ‘That’s not a situation that any of us can be comfortable with, that any of us can tolerate, and it has to be something that we seek to tackle.’
Kober said that the fact that Haringey has 3,000 families living in temporary accommodation, that a third of residents earn less than the London wage and a quarter of children are living in poverty were ‘all reasons why we are ambitious for this place’. But this was an ambition founded on having a strategy for people and place that is as much about education as it is about the quality of the borough and ‘general liveability of the place’. But it is also difficult to deliver on a range of outcomes unless you have a physical strategy, Kober added.
Crossrail 2 will offer ‘huge’ potential for the area, and Wood Green should be the ‘next chapter in the story of London’, the council confident that it will be designated an Opportunity Area in the next iteration of the London Plan. Other key projects include the on-time Tottenham Hotspur FC stadium, with is sliding pitch above an artificial surface, the High Road West with Lendlease next door, homes in Tottenham Hale, a new residential tower with Grainger on the Apex House site in Seven Sisters and a hotel, residential, arts facilities and a greater cultural offer in Hornsey. ‘There’s a lot going on in the borough’, said Kober.
Haringey’s strategic director of regeneration, planning and development Lyn Garner underlined that commitment, emphasising that from the outset on schemes in Wood Green and north Tottenham that regeneration is about people, using physical development to stimulate social and economic change. Developers who have the ‘privilege’ of working in the area are asked to go beyond S106 to work with schools and apprenticeships, and in the Haringey Development Vehicle it has structured a joint venture where significant income will come from the first tranche - £28m – whilst ensuring there is 40% affordable housing provided and full replacement of council homes that are demolished.
Other particular projects include the regeneration of Wood Green town centre itself, which Fluid founding director Christina Norton said was built on an aspiration for change it found with locals, providing that people were at the heart of that. Crossrail 2, meanwhile, was conceived as an ‘enabler for growth’, said policy manager Gareth Fairweather, and, crucially, supports the role of town centres as being places and destinations in their own right. ‘It’s a win-win situation for town centres and London as a whole’, he said.
Alexandra Palace is another focus for change. Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios associate Matt Somerville showed how his practice has adopted an approach of ‘arrested decay’ in retaining the patina of the place whilst updating its east wing with ‘surgical interventions’ to its theatre. And, back in Wood Green, Jan Kattein, director of Jan Kattein Architects, showed how his practice’s Blue House Yard meanwhile space has acted not just as cheap workspace but as a ‘precursor for positive change to come’, its most visible element being a series of colourful timber frame ‘huts’ that has involved skills transfer in their production. ‘A project like this isn’t just about doing buildings’, said Kattein. It’s about training people, civic space, events, about people taking ownership.’
Other speakers included Argent Related partner Robert Evans, who said that the public realm and the retail – which will be ‘an eclectic mix’, rather than ‘brand chasing’ - were key elements for his company’s work in Tottenham Hale as well as the predominant residential use. ‘One of the things that attracted us, though, was that it wasn’t just about housing’, said Evans. Finally, LDA Design director Bernie Foulkes said his main concern was to echo Jan Gehl’s words of ‘first life, then spaces, then buildings’, focusing on people against the challenge of intensification, and trying to create streets and landscape – spaces where people can talk to each other. ‘Those are all massive challenges that need to work’, he said, ’at every level’.
Editor, New London Quarterly