I declare an interest in Hornsey High Street. My constituency office is based there, above the Three Compasses pub! As such, I spend a lot of time on the High Street – popping into the shops and cafes and talking to local residents.
The old Depot site on the High Street (almost opposite the pub) has been a point of contention for many years. Parts of the site have been derelict since 1998 and the land is desperately underused, as Labour-run Haringey Council has continuously failed to strike a suitable deal with a developer.
Now, a new developer is on the scene. St James has put in a planning application to build a Sainsbury’s supermarket, 400 homes, a car park and a gym on the site. A development of this scale will have an impact on our local area, and it’s vital that local residents and shopkeepers get to have their say.
That’s why I called a public meeting, held last Friday, to give residents a platform and a chance to put their views to both Sainsbury’s and one of the project architects. St James and the Labour councillor in charge of planning were invited to attend, but both declined – a shocking decision in my opinion.
Despite this, almost 150 residents attended. It is clearly an application they feel very strongly about, and Sainsbury’s and the architect faced some very tough but valid questions.
There were some serious concerns about the effect of the development on local trade. Thankfully, the plans for a Sainsbury’s cafe have already been withdrawn, but the traders were still concerned that the supermarket alone will pose a threat to their livelihoods.
Residents were also concerned about the increase in traffic, and whether local services such as doctors’ surgeries and schools could accommodate hundreds more adults and children. There are also issues with the height of the development and the views of Alexandra Palace it will block.
I asked a question about the quality of new accommodation. New housing is much needed, but it must be built to last. St James built the New River Village development, and worryingly, I am currently fighting for residents there who are experiencing damp and flooding in their properties.
Based on the strength of feeling at the meeting, I think all of these concerns need to be addressed before the local community will support this development.
The Development Control Forums – which Haringey Council and St James have to attend – are taking place on the 26th and 27th of November at Grieg City Academy. This is the next chance for residents to find out more, voice their opinions and get some answers.
Labour-run Haringey Council will then make the final decision on the application, most likely in January.
The Haringey Liberal Democrats and I have been asking residents for their views already, and will continue to do so. We have recorded the views from the public meeting and will be representing them in our response to the planning application consultation. To add you voice – contact me.