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Controversial asset transfer approved as legal threat looms

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Haringey LBC’s cabinet has agreed to proceed with a controversial development vehicle which would see ownership of council land and buildings worth £2bn shared with a private company.

Claire kober

Claire kober

Claire Kober

Despite the ruling Labour group having a majority, the council’s housing and regeneration scrutiny panel previously strongly opposed the plan, which would transfer properties including several council estates and the town hall into a vehicle owned 50:50 by Haringey and Sydney-based Landlease.

Defending the proposal at last night’s cabinet meeting Haringey leader Claire Kober (Lab) said action must be taken to provide security for existing tenants and homeless families.

“We have to be bold and take proportionate risk and do things differently,” she added.

The plan would involve the development vehicle initially taking over and redeveloping 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.

A local organisation has threatened to take Haringey to judicial review over the decision to proceed with the proposal.

Haringey last night confirmed it has received a pre-action letter from Law firm Leigh Day sent on behalf of Gordon Peters, chair of the Older People’s Reference Group for Haringey. The council has until 27 February to respond.

The letter stated that the council was liable to judicial review for having failed to consult correctly on the proposed Haringey development vehicle.

Leigh Day said Haringey had also acted unlawfully by failing to make a properly informed decision on its choice of bidder, that the cabinet wrongly committing to the choice of bidder when this should have been decided by full council, and breaching the public sector equality duty.

The letter said Haringey had not undertaken any public consultation and “this is not understood to be disputed”.

It described the vehicle as unprecedented in terms of size and risk compared with development vehicles established by other councils, and noted that would “affect the rights and interests” of people in Haringey for years to come.

Haringey civic centre

Haringey civic centre

Source: Alan Stanton

This put the council under a duty to consult “as a matter of statute and common law fairness”, Leigh Day said.

Haringey has been contacted for comment.

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