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Outcry over bid to build 5,000 homes in Haringey as new developer announced

PUBLISHED: 15:47 08 February 2017 | UPDATED: 14:11 09 February 2017

Cllr Claire Kober, leader of Haringey Council

Cllr Claire Kober, leader of Haringey Council

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Haringey Council has come under fire over plans to partner with a controversial Australian developer to lead the borough's contentious multi-billion pound regeneration programme to deliver 5,000 new homes.

Cllr Gail Engert, Liberal Democrat leader of the opposition in HaringeyCllr Gail Engert, Liberal Democrat leader of the opposition in Haringey

A report published on Monday has named Lendlease, which has its headquarters in Sydney, as the council’s preferred partner for its contested £2bn Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) - which is yet to be approved.

Under the HDV proposal huge swathes of council land, housing and commercial property would be transferred into a private company owned 50/50 by the council and Lendlease - including the former Cranwood care home site in Muswell Hill.

Sites transferred into the new company would be earmarked for development to deliver new housing, including the demolition of some council estates to make way for new homes.

The council says the pioneering scheme, the largest of its kind ever proposed by a UK council, is essential to unlock the development of 5,000 homes in the borough.

The former Cranwood care home in Muswell Hill is one of the council properties due to be transferred into the development vehicle owned 50/50 with a developerThe former Cranwood care home in Muswell Hill is one of the council properties due to be transferred into the development vehicle owned 50/50 with a developer

However Lendlease has faced controversy over its partnership with Southwark Council on an estate regeneration project in Elephant & Castle, which slashed the number of social rented homes.

Cllr Gail Engert, Liberal Democrat leader of the opposition in Haringey, said the council should “think again”.

“It beggars belief that Haringey’s Labour cabinet are prepared to give such a massive project to a company that has been the source of so much controversy in another Labour-run area,” she said.

“Lendlease completed the very controversial Heygate Estate renewal in Southwark that led to 1,200 mainly social rented homes being replaced with 2,300 flats, of which just 79 are social rented homes.”

The council's commercial property portfolio, including Muswell Hill's railway arches off St James Lane, will also be transferred into the development vehicle company. Picture: Nigel SuttonThe council's commercial property portfolio, including Muswell Hill's railway arches off St James Lane, will also be transferred into the development vehicle company. Picture: Nigel Sutton

A spokesman for Haringey’s £2bn Gamble Campaign called on the council to scrap the HDV plans altogether and instead pursue 100 per cent council-owned development.

“There is still time to stop and we hope Haringey Council and the people we have elected to serve us, to wake up and see sense.”

The council says the decision to partner with Lendlease, which is still subject to approval by Haringey’s cabinet next Tuesday, follows a “robust procurement process”.

Council leader, Cllr Claire Kober, said: “We’ve chosen this joint venture approach to keep the council and local people firmly at the heart of our plans for growth.

“This 50:50 partnership ensures the council is involved in all decisions and crucially can ensure that a share of the profits goes back into other regeneration initiatives, affordable housing and funding the services we provide to residents.”

Despite attempts to contact Lendlease, the Ham&High has not heard back from the firm.

If the decision to appoint the company is approved, discussions on how the joint development venture will be established and managed will begin.

A final decision on whether to proceed with the HDV is expected this summer.

Sites that could be moved into the new private company include Wood Green Library and Haringey Civic Centre, and land at the back of Muswell Hill Library is listed for consideration at a later date.

The council’s commercial property portfolio could also be transferred into the HDV, including 17 business units at the Railway Arches in St James Lane, Muswell Hill.

The row comes after a backlash over Haringey’s decision to recommend a bid from the Hong Kong based and Cayman Islands registered Far East Consortium International to convert the iconic Hornsey Town Hall into a boutique hotel and build 128 flats, including just four affordable homes.

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