Developers: 'Crazy' Haringey Council is holding up new homes
- Credit: Polly Hancock
A Haringey businessman says he is boycotting the borough over “crazy” council decision-making.
Stewart Wellington is one of three property developers who told the Ham&High that Haringey was holding up the delivery of new homes.
“I have no interest in doing anything in Haringey anymore,” said Mr Wellington, who grew up in the borough.
“I’m tapped out emotionally. It’s so disheartening. They’re fixated on this wet dream of doing it themselves."
To the council, he said: "You don’t have the skills, the money, the competence... This is a council, not a business. Stick to what you know, run services, stop thinking you can deliver things which you can't.”
Last year, government curbed Haringey’s planning powers after it missed its three-year housing target by 40%.
The council said the government was “blaming the council for a clear failure of the private sector".
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He said rules incentivised developers to delay projects, as non-delivery resulted in council powers being curbed, paving the way for even more building.
But developers claim their attempts to build affordable or social housing have been blocked.
Tim Jackson and Eli Robinson have developed several Haringey sites.
As part of their Pinnacle development in Muswell Hill, they said they handed six “shell and core” flats – meaning they were not finished inside – to the council for use as “affordable” housing.
They said they also offered to finish them at a discount, but Haringey declined.
“They have sat empty ever since,” said Mr Jackson. “Now a planning application has gone in to turn them into a doctor’s surgery.”
The pair contacted the Ham&High after recent controversy surrounding the disused Cranwood care home.
For almost ten years, Mr Jackson has been telling Haringey that he and Mr Robinson would like to develop the site.
In February 2018, they offered to deliver it with 50% “affordable” housing.
“It would have been 30 or 40 units with a communal garden and balconies overlooking Highgate Wood,” said Mr Jackson.
But the council was intent on developing the whole site, including nearby houses, and even bought one for £2.15m to facilitate it.
A civil servant emailed Mr Jackson: “I wouldn’t be sacked if I sold Cranwood, I would be shot.”
If the council had let them pursue their scheme, they said, "it would have been built by now”.
Instead, nothing has happened.
Mr Wellington jointly owns a building near the council's West Indian Cultural Centre in Clarendon Road, Hornsey.
He and his fellow owners offered to regenerate the site, building a new centre, offices and homes, including council flats.
“We have spent the thick end of a million quid on architects, consultants and what they call formal planning pre-apps,” he said.
“We instructed surveyors to undertake a schedule of dilapidations. It was circa £500,000 of remedial works required, and the council are on the hook.”
But, he said, when he met council staff to discuss his plan, which included writing off the £500,000 bill: “They couldn’t have been more belligerent... It was completely inexplicable.
"Within 30 months, we could be giving out 40 keys to people for social housing."
The council wants to redevelop the site itself.
All three developers said they felt decisions may be fuelled by a political fear of being seen to work with developers.
Haringey did not address the developers’ specific complaints, but released a statement from Labour leader Peray Ahmet.
It said: “The facts speak for themselves. We have one of the strongest council housing delivery programmes in London and we have a strong vision to deliver for our residents.
“By the end of next month, we will have more than 1,000 high quality council homes on site. Our ambitious housebuilding programme includes one of the biggest regeneration projects this borough has seen in Tottenham and major investment for the proposed redevelopment of Broadwater Farm.
“After decades of no council homes being built in the borough, our focus is on transforming the lives of people to ensure families across Haringey will be rehoused into accommodation of the highest quality which is better suited to their needs.”
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