Major Sport-Led Regeneration for Tottenham?
12 September 2012. Huge billboards outside
Tottenham Hotspur football ground show artists'
impressions of the future new stadium. Slogans
describe the aims and claims of the club's plans.
For the club itself, I'm sure the claims are accurate and its optimism is genuine. But the Spurs development is intended to have a wide impact on North Tottenham. How much of this will be positive or negative for existing residents and businesses? Whose interests will be served? And whose not?
The club's upbeat view is echoed by the fawning PR from Haringey Council. This is hardly surprising, since the Council's leadership shares with its planners and regeneration staff a poverty of imagination and lack of any original ideas.
Do they need any ideas? Beyond trotting out the claim that "the new Spurs stadium will be a catalyst for wider area change". As a Tottenham resident and [until May 2014] - a ward councillor, I've seen no hard evidence to support this claim. But it's repeated in Haringey's planning reports.
And recycled in a glossy and vacuous brochure called A Plan for Tottenham from Council leader Claire Kober.
Although many of the promised changes in the "Plan" are said to be "realistic and realisable", they are described in vague terms. Sentence after sentence is written like advertising copy. Which is exactly what it is.
The pages about the North Tottenham Plans are brimming over with positive words and phrases:
"premier location . . . high quality housing . . .
increased employment. . . . increased services . . .
better balance . . .comprehensive improvement . . .
comprehensive regeneration . . . improved . . .
major . . . transformation . . . . exciting masterplan . . .
new . . . new . . . new . . .
The word 'new' is repeated ten times in one section of the "Plan for Tottenham" and 56 times through the document.
Some Haringey Council claims are highly dubious. So on page 19 of the Plan we read that: There is potential for a Victoria Line extension to Northumberland Park". It's true that - even without the new Spurs stadium - this would be highly desirable. But there is no indication from Transport for London that it is likely to happen.
Other changes do offer potential opportunities for local residents and existing businesses - but also pose risks and dangers. Cllr Claire Kober's vacuous brochure doesn't mention a single one of the latter.
Updated Comment October 2013
In September 2012 when I took this photo and wrote the comments above, I'd not seen the slightest indication that leading councillors and Council staff were doing or intended to do a careful and rigorous job on behalf of the local community by subjecting the wider development plans to critical analysis and scrutiny. It appeared to me that the work of staff engaged in the consultation was aimed simply at selling the development to residents.
Rereading it in October 2013, I am even more gloomy. Very little has been learned. Few councillors and - I suspect - very few of the Borough's planning and regeneration staff have given any indication of paying proper attention to downsides of these proposals. And to the vital critique that this is in fact not regeneration but a British version of "Social Cleansing".
§ Map and aerial view of where I took these photos.
§ Northumberland Park ward in Haringey is one of the most deprived wards in London. This ward and Stonebridge ward in Brent are the only two which appear in the most deprived ten London wards on every summary measure of the Index of Multiple Deprivation.
Source: Greater London Authority.
§ Anna Minton: The reconfiguration of London is akin to social cleansing. The Guardian 27 March 2013.
§ The newspeak language used by Haringey Council can be found in other "social cleansing" developments. Professor Loretta Lees' video: The grammar of "mixed communities".
§ In 1953 Charles Erwin Wilson, then the president of General Motors, was asked by a U.S. Senate committee whether, if appointed U.S. Secretary of Defense, he could make a decision adverse to the company's interests. Wilson said 'yes'. But that he could not conceive of such a situation because:
"for years I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa".
Haringey's head honchos seem to take a similar view about Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. But even if accurate, it will not excuse failure to identify and try to protect the interests of local residents.
§ Another way to view the Tottenham riot is to see it as a small scale example of an event which led to "Disaster Capitalism" - opening the doors to developers keen to exploit the area. In Coney Island, New York small businesses made such a criticism of large landowners and corporations. "It's an example of “disaster capitalism” in action". From the Independent 17 August 2013. "How Sandy has changed the game".