Grainger NEW plan for Wards Corner

On the 8th May 2012 Grainger PLC submitted a new planning application for the Wards Corner site. Despite permission for their previous plan being overturned in 2008, Haringey Council’s refusal to grant permission in 2011 and continuing overwhelming public opposition to their proposals Grainger are trying to push ahead with their ill-considered and damaging plans for Wards Corner.

This new scheme, like the old, was made without the involvement of the people on the site, the surrounding traders, residents or local groups and, apart from a few cosmetic differences, remains largely unchanged from the plan refused permission in July 2011. Further to this Grainger have been actively working to undermine the legitimate concerns of local people and discredit attempts by the community to find a solution for Wards Corner that meets everyone's needs.

On 25th June 2012 Harigey's Planning Committee voted 5-4 in favour of granting permission to Grainger's much maligned plan to demolish Wards Corner.

11 speakers gave heartfelt and reasoned arguments against Grainger’s scheme; ranging from poor design, lack of affordable housing and the destruction of livelihoods and heritage buildings, including a local shopkeeper declaring that after 30 years of commitment to Tottenham she just wants Grainger and Haringey to treat her with respect. There continues to be strong calls for a regeneration project that builds upon and respects the rich heritage and cultural diversity at Wards Corner.

This new application was rushed through in a mere 6 weeks with neither Grainger nor Haringey Council carrying out any consultation and in the face of over 400 objections from both the local community and national organisations. This is in addition to the 1, 800 objections to Grainger’s previous application. Labour councillor Joanna Christophides who voted against the previous proposal, voted in favour this time despite increased concern about the development from English Heritage, Haringey's Design Panel, Federation of Small Businesses and many local groups.

It is bad practice for the Council to consider multiple similar applications from Grainger. They claim this new application is different enough to be considered, but not different enough to warrant fresh consultation to replace the outdated and poor consultation attempts from 2008. They can't have it both ways.

You can read some of the objections to Grainger's scheme here:

Busting Grainger's myths:

Grainger's 'fact' sheet about their scheme makes a lot of grand statements, but below we reveal the truth behind their claims

WCC's detailed objection:
Busting Grainger's myths:

  • Haringey Council, Boris Johnson and Grainger are intent on exploiting the 2011 riots to push for their model of top-down regeneration, regeneration that will do nothing to improve the lives of local people, regeneration that will replace truly affordable homes with unaffordable ones and regeneration that will evict local businesses and price out local entrepreneurs in favour of national chains and low wage jobs. They have rebranded old schemes as ‘The Plan for Tottenham’ and are pursuing a regeneration agenda that will not improve life for local people and will only serve to widen social divisions.

  • Grainger have variously claimed their scheme to be absolutely viable and ready to be delivered and that their scheme is wholly unviable with any affordable housing provision or retention of local heritage. All this despite £1.5million in public subsidies, Haringey offering them 4 council properties for a total price of £184,000 and more recently extra money given by the mayor of London. Furthermore the District Valuer’s assessment heaped doubt on the real viability of their scheme pointing out that the expected profit margins were so low as to make the plan unviable and unlikely to receive capital loans.

  • The Council and Grainger claim that the Community Plan is economically unviable yet they have never properly assessed the scheme. Meanwhile the Council actively hinder the WCC's attempts to gain funding to further develop the plans and carry out their own viability assessments by refusing to engage in meaningful dialogue and by ignoring correspondence from interested funders.

  • Grainger claims that any alternatives to their scheme are unviable, however their assessments only look at tweaks to their current proposals and are not a real attempt to explore the potential for alternative schemes on the site.

  • Grainger claim their scheme is the only answer to the blight affecting Wards Corner. In reality this blight is the result of deliberate actions by both TfL and Grainger. The Wards Store has been partly vacant for 40 years because TfL has repeatedly refused expressions of interest from many people, from national chains, to artists and even the current manager of the market all of whom wanted to bring the building back into use. There are 4 other empty and derelict buildings on the site; Grainger owns all of them and has done nothing to make them available for use or to maintain their appearance. This is a clear abuse of power by both TfL and Grainger and an attempt to decrease land values on the site for their own benefit at the expense of local people

  • Grainger misleadingly claim that their development will bring £11million new spend into local shops. By their own admission £8million of this will be generated solely by whichever national retailer that occupies the 1 large unit in their scheme. This will not lead to a significant increase in money flowing into the local economy, in fact it will do the reverse and drain money out of the area. Research by NEF shows that between 2 and 3 times more money stays in the local economy when it is spent in locally owned shops as opposed to spending it in national chains.

  • Grainger claim they will create 600 new jobs however their own figures show the net increase to only be 100; an exaggerated figure that does not properly take account of the employment networks both within and supporting businesses on site. Furthermore they make no mention of the change of jobs available on the site. Currently the site facilitates start-up businesses and self-employed small business owners, jobs that provide long term security and scope for future saving an investment, something that would be lost in Grainger’s scheme.

  • Grainger never wanted to include a market hall and did not have one in their original plans, they also publicly stated in 2008 that they had no interest in rehousing the current market. It is only as a result of action by the WCC and eventual intervention by Boris Johnson that they included one. However this concession means little in real terms as the rents in the new market will be 3 times more than they are currently, even with the temporary rent reduction for market traders would still be around double the current level. Furthermore it will be all but impossible for the current traders to afford to temporarily relocate during the construction, the money offered by Grainger to assist with this forced disruption does not come close to covering the costs of the move.

  • A report produced by Urban Space Management (USM) for the government funded New Deal for Communities concluded that the current market could not survive in Grainger’s scheme. USM have over 30 years experience of managing markets and their concerns raise serious doubts about the long term sustainability of a market in Grainger’s scheme, however their assessment was missing from the planning officer’s report.

  • Despite repeated calls for dialogue from business owners outside the market Grainger has refused to engage them in discussion about support or compensation for the forced disruption and displacement of their businesses, many of which have been trading on the site for decades. Grainger have not even extended the tokenistic concessions made to the market traders to these businesses. Furthermore Grainger are refusing to renew their leases and forcing renewals on worse terms.

  • Grainger have used the opinion of one heritage adviser to re-determine the heritage value of the Wards department store and surrounding conservation area, stating it’s demolition will be no great loss. The conclusions made by this advisor fly in the face of what has been said by many of the leading voices in architectural heritage - Tottenham Civic Society, Tottenham’s Conservation Area Advisory Committee, English Heritage, SAVE Britain’s Heritage and the Victorian Society. It even goes against Haringey Council’s own conservation area assessment.

  • Grainger misrepresent the results of the ComRes poll they commissioned and use this to allege support for their scheme. The questions in the poll were either so biased or leading that the responses can’t be taken seriously or were so general that they indicated support for the WCC Community Plan as much as they do the Grainer scheme. The pole basically demonstrated that given a choice between any change or no change people wanted to see change at Wards Corner. We support change on the site and continue to work towards this.

  • Grainger and the Council make a lot of noise about the 400 expressions of support they claim to have for their scheme. However they have yet to release the petition containing much of this support and we expect the question they asked to be as vague and leading as the ones in the ComRes poll. In contrast there are over 2000 objections to the scheme available for all to see on Haringey Council’s planning website. According to the Council and Grainger this represents a ‘vocal minority’.

  • There has been, and continues to be, widespread opposition to Grainger’s scheme. Concerns and reservations have been raised by:
    • many local people, politicians, residents associations and business organisations
    • Haringey's Design Panel,
    • many London-wide and national organisations including English Heritage, Planning Aid for London, The London Forum of Civic and Amenity Groups, Transport for London, SAVE, Federation of Small Businesses, and Thames Water, and Joanne McCartney, London Assembly Member for Enfield & Haringey.