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Controversial Lendlease scheme in peril after Haringey Council leader quits

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Developer Lendlease has hinted that it is prepared to rework its controversial plans for a regeneration joint venture in Haringey following the departure of council leader Claire Kober

Kober announced she was quitting today (30 January) following months of attacks on her regime for promoting the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV), which is bitterly opposed by unions, left-wing activists, Momentum-supporting Labour councillors and other opposition councillors. Last week the Labour Party called on the council to reconsider the partnership.

With local elections taking place in May, and anti-HDV candidates having been selected for Labour in a majority of seats, Kober’s departure makes it considerably less likely that the HDV will progress.

The £1 billion-plus redevelopment was set to create up to 6,400 homes, as well as new schools, a health centre and a new town centre for Wood Green. 

But Lendlease has indicated that it would like to continue working with the council on plans for the area.

A spokesperson said: ‘We respect the decision announced by Haringey’s leader Claire Kober.

‘Lendlease remains committed to the people of Haringey and helping deliver the new homes, infrastructure and community facilities that everyone agrees are much needed. We stand ready to discuss further the best potential way to do this.”

Many opponents of the HDV have argued that Haringey should not enter a joint venture agreement with Lendlease, citing the developer’s deal with Southwark Council to redevelop the Heygate estate, where onsite affordable housing provision was minimal.

Unions also opposed the joint venture because of the firm’s involvement in union blacklisting.

Lendlease, however, says that its involvement in that scandal was ‘minimal’ and says ‘it does not tolerate this activity’.

Other opponents of the HDV have set themselves in opposition to the principle of the joint venture deal – which would see Haringey putting land worth tens of millions of pounds into a joint venture company with Lendlease.

Last week on Newsnight, Momentum leader Jon Lansman said: ‘I can understand why in the past Labour councils might have thought you need to do those sorts of deals as perhaps the only option, but I think now we could be only months away from a Corbyn government. I think we have got a bigger opportunity here to radically change.’

In her valedictory statement, Kober said: ‘I have been motivated by a sense of injustice throughout my whole life.

‘Tackling poverty and inequality has always been my priority. Where this is entrenched, it is my view that social and economic change is most successfully delivered alongside physical regeneration – indeed I think the former is impossible without the latter in these cases.

‘That is why I am passionate about both improving education and delivering regeneration.

‘This is not always a popular or easy path to take but I believe in facing up to difficult decisions rather than retreating to a position that feels safer or more comfortable.’

The council is still awaiting the result of an application for judicial review into the HDV brought by former Green Party parliamentary candidate Gordon Peters.

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