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Protest planned ahead of £2bn land and asset transfer decision

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Protests are expected at Haringey LBC’s headquarters tomorrow evening when its cabinet decides whether to hand £2bn worth of land and buildings to a joint venture.

The move has been strongly opposed by the council’s housing and regeneration scrutiny panel, despite the ruling Labour group having a majority.

Trade unions plan a demonstration when councillors vote on recommendations on forming Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV), a 50:50 joint venture with Australian property developer Lendlease.

This initially would take over and redevelop housing in the Northumberland Park area, the council’s Wood Green headquarters, Haringey’s entire commercial portfolio and various other sites and council housing.

Haringey and Lendlease would equally share profits and risks.

Claire-Kober

Claire-Kober

Claire Kober

Leader Claire Kober (Lab) said: “Approving Lendlease as the preferred bidder for the project is a critical and exciting step towards delivering the jobs and homes that Haringey needs.

“We’ve chosen this joint venture approach to keep the council and local people firmly at the heart of our plans for growth. This 50:50 partnership ensures the council is involved in all decisions and crucially can ensure that a share of the profits goes back into other regeneration initiatives, affordable housing and funding the services we provide to residents.”

GMB union London region secretary Warren Kenny, who helped organise the demonstration, said: “No development vehicle yet has been successful. The HDV will not build one council house and will hand over the whole current stock to private enterprise.”

A council statement said the HDV would bring “at least 5,000 new homes on council land” and thousands of jobs while Haringey would “do its utmost” to rehouse tenants displaced by redevelopment who want a new home in the same area and for rent.

Haringey’s scrutiny panel was trenchant in its attack, though. The panel’s report said: “It is clear that very significant risks with the proposed HDV remain. What the council, and by extension its tenants and residents, gain from the proposed HDV is far less clear than what it and they stand to lose.”

Problems included “a fundamental democratic deficit”, lack of transparency, and absence of sufficient contingency plans.

“The panel has no other option than to recommend that the HDV plans are halted and that further scrutiny work should be undertaken,” it said.

It was also alarmed that the HDV would involve use of a local asset backed vehicle (LABV) on a scale in excess of anything tried by other councils while evidence of success elsewhere was limited.

It noted that while Bournemouth BC’s vehicle worked well, Tunbridge Wells BC dissolved its LABV without any development occurring, while Croydon LBC’s CURV venture with John Laing was inactive.

A Croydon spokesman said it had since set up its own development company, Brick by Brick, and “believes this model is the best way to deliver both a commercial return whilst also achieving much-needed affordable housing”.

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