A £2bn Labour council regeneration scheme is being challenged in the High Court

If the Haringey Development Vehicle goes ahead it will be the biggest transfer of public assets to a semi-private company in British history.

A north London Labour council are trying to push through one of the largest transfers of public land into private ownership in British history in the face of growing opposition and with little or no public consultation. This textbook case of regeneration must be opposed.

Haringey Council are in the High Court today fighting campaigners who wish to put the breaks on a controversial regeneration scheme worth £2bn, claiming there’s a “lack of accountability and democratic process” around the plans.

The Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) being pushed through by Labour council leaders will see £2bn of council owned assets — housing estates, community buildings and land — transferred to  public-private partnership with Australian developer Lendlease.

The massive transfer of property will precede a borough-wide regeneration and building scheme, profits of which will be split 50:50 between the council and Lendlease.

The transfer of £2bn worth of property will “have an impact on an unprecedented scale”, the High Court heard today.

Like some of the worst examples of regeneration across London, much of this development scheme will see social rented properties knocked down, replaced with for-sale or market rent flats — and former residents turfed out with no right to return.

Looking at just one estate amongst many, Guardian journalist Aditya Chakrabortty found that under the HDV plans 1,000 social rent properties would be demolished to be replaced with 5,000 for sale or market rent properties on the Northumberland Park estate.

Like the regeneration of the Heygate Estate at Elephant and Castle, where 3,000 former residents were moved out and the flats bought by overseas investors, the HDV looks set to demolish and displace whole communities, selling off the land to the highest bidder.

The plan, being spearheaded by the Labour cabinet, is opposed by nearly half of their councillors — at least 20 of 57 — as well as 19 Labour-party branch leaders across Hornsey & Wood Green; north London MPs David Lammy and Catherine West have also raised concerns.

Campaign groups ‘2bn Pound Gamble’ and ‘Stop the HDV’ have sprung up with the specific aim of derailing the plans. Stop HDV said:

“If it goes ahead it will be the biggest such transfer of local authority resources to a private entity in UK history”

One of the main challenges being heard in the High Court today is that local people, facing the loss of their homes and communities, were not properly consulted over the plan.

The two other main points in the judicial review surround the legality of the new partnership with Lendlease and whether the council had assessed HDV’s impact on vulnerable people.

David Wolfe QC acting for the campaign group said: “The claimant and others are particularly concerned about the process the council has followed.” Continuing:

“They are very concerned the council is taking a once in a generation decision without proper consultation and without redress to full council. There is a lack of accountability and democratic process”

Like countless regeneration schemes around the country, the HDV is being pushed through in the face of growing public opposition — this undemocratic and shortsighted profit-seeking exercise should be opposed.

You can follow the progress of the judicial review in the High Court today on ‘Stop HDV’s Twitter.

Oscar Webb is a staff writer for Left Foot Forward. He tweets here.

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