Haringey Council faces court battle after campaigners file legal challenge over development plan

Campaigners against plans to transfer public assets to a joint venture have announced a legal challe

Campaigners against plans to transfer public assets to a joint venture have announced a legal challenge against Haringey Council. Picture: JON KING - Credit: Archant

Haringey Council could face a court battle after campaigners against its multi-million pound public assets sell off filed a legal challenge.

An application was made to the High Court asking for a judicial review to look into the lawfulness of the council’s decision to transfer its land, buildings and housing into a joint venture, the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV).

Opponents object to the plan which seeks to raise a profit for the council through a 50/50 partnership with Lendlease, a multinational developer.

Gordon Peters – who instructed law firm Leigh Day to file the application on behalf of the Stop the HDV campaign – said: “There are a number of issues which need closer legal examination and give us grounds to challenge the council’s decision to go ahead.”

Stop the HDV allege Haringey acted unlawfully by setting up a limited liability partnership – in which partners are not held responsible for each other’s conduct – to pursue a commercial purpose.

Further claims of unlawfulness centre on allegations the council failed to consult the public or to allow every councillor a chance to review the decision and that it “inadequately” assessed the plan’s impact on black and minority ethnic communities.

An additional concern focuses on a lack of commitment on levels of social housing.

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Mr Peters said: “Tenants, leaseholders, businesses and vulnerable people face a very uncertain future. A judge will decide now if and when a hearing is required. We fully expect this irresponsible, and we say illegal, mortgaging of all our public assets to a commercial partnership no longer directly accountable to us, will be challenged in court. There are implications of this action affecting developments across London and the country.”

A Haringey Council spokesman said the challenge is now being considered by its legal team.

“We are confident we followed the correct process in this venture and in appointing Lendlease. The district auditor is content due process has been followed. The HDV will bring in billions. This will build 6,400 new homes, with at least 40 per cent affordable. We are committed to ensuring the HDV will improve residents’ lives including existing council tenants who have a guaranteed right to return on equivalent terms.”

Asked what impact the challenge would have on the progress of HDV agreements, the spokesman said no decision had yet been made on the timings of agreement signings, but they would be informed by legal advice.