Haringey Council U-turns on demolishing Muswell Hill homes – after buying ex-council house for £2.15m

Woodside Avenue resident James Farmer, 85 (left) and number 106 (right) which Haringey Council bough

Woodside Avenue resident James Farmer, 85 (left) and number 106 (right) which Haringey Council bought for £2.15m. Pictures: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Haringey Council has U-turned on plans to redevelop a terrace in Muswell Hill despite spending £2.15 million on one of the houses.

Council tenants in Woodside Avenue, some who have lived there for nearly 50 years, say they are “overwhelmed” after their eight homes were saved from demolition under council proposals to redevelop the old Cranwood Nursing Home.

To facilitate the project, number 106 – a three-bedroom ex-council house – was bought by Haringey Council for £2.15m last June. It is currently housing a family as temporary accommodation and is valued at less than £1m.

Despite the £2.15m outlay, plus £213,000 to date for the development of the wider Cranwood site, the council has now U-turned.

“After consulting with residents” it has decided to redevelop only the former Cranwood Nursing Home – without knocking down the Woodside Avenue houses.

Cranwood Nursing Home has been disused since 2012. Picture: Polly Hancock

Cranwood Nursing Home has been disused since 2012. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Polly Hancock

Rose Mistica, 63, told the Ham&High it was a "victory of liberty” hers and her neighbours’ homes had been saved.

“It’s very difficult to describe because moving means you lose whatever you’ve had,” she said.

“If we had moved out it would have been a completely different story. I am completely overwhelmed.”

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Last year Rose’s neighbour Tina started a petition to save their Woodside Avenue homes which gathered more than 5,000 signatures.

She thanked supporters of the campaign, telling this newspaper: “The truth is I still don’t believe it myself – we’re over the moon but it’s still a shock to our system.

“All of us are very happy that the houses are saved, every single one of them.”

102-108 Woodside Avenue. Picture: Polly Hancock

102-108 Woodside Avenue. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

The redevelopment of Cranwood Nursing Home, which closed in 2012 and is on the corner of Woodside Avenue and Muswell Hill, will still proceed.

Under these proposals, which the council expects to review by autumn, 42 council homes will be built.

A year after Haringey’s £2.1m purchase of its former council house, 106 Woodside Avenue is now valued between £702,000 to £858,000 by property website Zoopla. The lower estimate is a third of the price the town hall paid for the property.

The council has also shelved its plans to purchase number 104, the only remaining freehold property of the eight Woodside Avenue homes.

Haringey Defend Council Housing's secretary Paul Burnham said the purchase of 106 and its U-turn on Woodside Avenue was down to a lack of consultation with residents.

“What they did was try to move people out of their homes first, and then have a consultation afterwards. It’s completely unacceptable,” he said.

“You can’t just move people around like moving chess pieces around a chess board – that’s not how it works.”

Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West said she was” delighted” the Woodside Avenue homes were saved.

Catherine West, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green

Catherine West, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green - Credit: Chris McAndrew

“We do desperately need more social housing, but it must be done in a way that doesn’t displace existing tenants," Ms West said.

Cllr Julia Ogiehor (Lib Dem, Muswell Hill) said she was glad residents no longer faced eviction.

“As I told the council’s planning committee in March, it is important that the council is transparent about its next steps and consults properly on any new plans," Cllr Ogiehor said.

“That way they can avoid creating anxiety for residents and unnecessary expense for council taxpayers.”

Cllr Emine Ibrahim, Haringey Council’s housing lead, said there had been “no substantial loss” from the “redesign” of the development and that it had “overcome a number of issues surrounding site assembly”.

Cllr Ibrahim (Lab, Noel Park) said: “We will always listen to our residents and our plans have recently been amended so that we no longer intend to include the eight houses in the new development.”