Future of Wood Green

Apart from preparation for the Violent Crime Reduction Bill’s committee stage, this afternoon I met with the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) to discuss a number of issues that might come up when various bills passing through Parliament this session.

Main highlight today was the Wood Green Area Assembly in the evening at the Civic Centre. It was webcast – for the first time! Maybe that’s why it was so packed – or maybe that was because the Council had hired consultants to come up with a ‘master plan’ for improving Wood Green. Wood Green desperately needs love and attention – and resources! However, despite pretty presentations and all that – still clear to me that whatever the promises or the master plan unless Haringey Council stops giving permission to ugly, ghastly blocks of flats and puts some pressure on developers to raise their game – master plan, shmaster plan.

Landrock Road development

First meeting today is with Cllr Judy Bax who is chairing the Community Partnership Board, the group developing the plan for the Hornsey Town Hall’s future. I am still convinced that the only way this site is ever going to be a community facility is for this group to succeed and Crouch End for People, Hornsey Trust and all of us to work together to deliver that.

Having now met with both Hornsey Trust and the Community Partnership Board, there still is resistance to working together – so the Community Board must push on and succeed. If they can build a cinema to start with and retain at least a good chunk of the car park, they will at least be demonstrating to all the people who signed Town Hall petition that their intentions are honourable. My concern is that the first part of the site to be developed will be housing or whatever – and then a three year gap before we see what is really wanted – the arts, leisure and community facility part of the site.

Of course, the argument will be that you can’t do the good community bits without the funding by the development bits.

Anyway – my part in this is to support the journey from council control to trust and harangue and lobby for the community bits – and to lobby at high level for transport links at an early stage.

This is followed by a long, long interview by MORI. Too long and boring to go into – but basically a number of big companies – including Transport for London (TfL) and British Nuclear Fuels to name but two – want to know what I know and think of them. TfL’s ears would be burning!

In the afternoon I go to Landrock Road to join local campaigners campaigning against another backland development site application by developers. It is unbearable what they are trying to do – cram four very expensive houses on a long, narrow, strip of land: totally inappropriate.

One hundred odd houses whose gardens back onto this strip of land will be blighted by this development. Currently there is a row of garages which the developer is letting dilapidate and won’t rent out. Sometimes I just wish I had real dictatorial power to tell the developers to get lost! However, what I do is write to the Planning Department to let them know what I think.

Haringey Heartlands

I attend a report back on the Haringey Heartlands regeneration project consultation at Haringey Civic Centre. This was chaired by Cllr Makanji. And boy was cross. Whenever the residents said anything he didn’t like (which was often) he would shout and browbeat them into submission – threatening to close the meeting rather than let them speak.

There is a real battle to be fought to stop residents suffering at the hands of the Mayor, Council and LDA who seem intent on going ahead with a poorly designed scheme which will not deliver the jobs, infrastructure or homes needed.

Perhaps Richard Rogers, who is involved, can steer this right – trouble is, he appears to be advising the developers. Is that a conflict of interest? Must find out!

Building collapses

A building has fallen down in Queens Avenue, Muswell Hill: Queen’s Lodge, a beautiful old building which has had application after planning application in on it. On Thursday one side of it collapsed. LibDem Cllr Steve Gilbert sought assurances from Haringey Council that is was safe. On Friday more fell down. I turned up this morning to meet residents to examine the ruins.

Absolutely staggered as I walk along alleyway at the back to find that only the facade was being retained and that the developers have excavated a vast tract of land at the back. I’m not surprised it collapsed – there was almost nothing left to retain it.

This is serious stuff – and I will call for a full investigation on Monday. Someone is gravely at fault – whether the developer, building inspector, safety officers, council or what! This hasn’t happened through misfortune or unexpectedly high water table or any of the usual excuses as far as I can see – questions have to be answered.

Planning in Muswell Hill

I went to a residents meeting about a planning application for houses on opennish land in Muswell Hill. The residents have only just won their last victory over a land grabbing and opportunist developer who is plaguing Haringey by trying to stuff houses on every little back site available.

No sooner was the ink dry on refusal for the last application then this new one was lobed in with virtually no amendment or change from the first one.

Cllr Matt Davies (LibDem, Fortis Green) helped the residents last time and was there again to do so again. I was there to add my support too. I am sick of poor residents having to fight and fight and fight against developers who obviously bank on residents eventually losing the will to fight – and eventually get a horrible scheme through. But these residents were determined to face down the developer. Hurrah!