The West Green Road/Seven Sisters Development Trust (the Trust) has welcomed the withdrawal of property developer, Grainger plc, from Wards Corner, Tottenham. Grainger’s controversial redevelopment plans would have seen the demolition of the historic Wards building and Seven Sisters Indoor Market, a listed Asset of Community Value, to erect 190 ‘build-to-rent’ flats with no affordable housing provision.
Grainger’s withdrawal marks the end of a fifteen-year campaign by local residents and market tenants against the development, who contested the scheme would lead to the gentrification of the area and the displacement of existing communities. In 2017, a group of United Nations human rights experts warned the development would have:
“a disproportionate impact on people belonging to minorities and their right to equal participation in economic, social and cultural rights”.
The West Green Road/Seven Sisters Development Trust was formed by local residents, businesses and market tenants to deliver an alternative ‘Community Plan’ for the site. The fourth iteration of the Plan, co-designed by Unit 38, proposes the sensitive restoration of the existing buildings and their democratic administration by a community benefit society. Since receiving planning permission in 2019, the Trust has demonstrated the scheme’s viability through detailed financial modelling and is engaged in “promising” discussions with ethical investors.
Therefore, the Trust welcomes the comments made by Peray Ahmet, Leader of the Council, issued in a joint statement between the Trust and Haringey Council (LBH) on the future of Wards Corner Site:
The Leader of Haringey Council, Peray Ahmet, said:
“Whilst TfL’s Hardship Fund payments to traders was a welcome intervention, we also need to understand their proposals and timeframes for continuing this much needed financial support.
“The longer-term renewal of the site is also critical. Having met with the West Green Road/Seven Sisters Development Trust, we are supportive of the Trust’s Community Plan to bring the existing historic building back to life for the next generation, with Seven Sisters market, popularly known as the Latin Village, at its heart, and we are looking forward to seeing the next iteration of the plans. As TfL are the owners of the market, we urge them to work with the Trust to co-produce a solution for the long-term future of the market.”
“Developing a new vision for this area is key, and alongside the traders and community of Seven Sisters will do all we can to help TfL make this a reality. A market at Wards Corner has been and will be a very important part of the rich cultural fabric which makes Tottenham such a special part of our great city.”
The Chair of the Trust, Carlos Burgos, said: “Grainger’s withdrawal finally ends a terrible period of suffering and neglect, marking the beginning of a new chapter for Seven Sisters Market and Wards Corner. Rooted in 15 years’ of local organising, the Wards Corner Community Plan is a viable scheme to restore a heritage building, listed community asset and celebrated market, which will revive the high street and town centre for the benefit of the community.
“We welcome Haringey Council’s support for the Plan and look forward to working with traders, the wider community, the Council and Transport for London to deliver this urgent project as soon as possible. We also call for the Mayor of London’s financial hardship scheme for traders to be extended until a temporary or permanent market is available.”
In a further statement, the Trust said:
“The West Green Road/Seven Sisters Development Trust welcomes the withdrawal of property developer, Grainger plc, from Wards Corner. Grainger’s redevelopment plans would have seen the demolition of the historic Wards building and Seven Sisters Indoor Market, a listed Asset of Community Value. The Trust also welcomes the commitments from Haringey Council to work alongside traders and the community, and their support of the Community Plan.
It is now more urgent than ever to deliver the long-awaited Community Plan for Wards Corner. Seven Sisters Indoor Market and the Wards building have been neglected for far too long, both by the owners, Transport for London, and by successive market operators, leaving the building with serious health and safety issues. The Market has remained closed since March 2020, leaving the majority of traders without access to their livelihoods, generating an urgent need for a temporary market. Grainger’s demolition plan has cast a cloud over south Tottenham for too long, running down the Wards building and the wider West Green Road/Seven Sisters town centre. It is imperative that the Market, Wards Corner and the wider town centre do not suffer any further delay and neglect.
The Trust is committed to working with all parties to deliver the Community Plan for Wards Corner as soon as possible, delivering much-needed improvements for market traders, local businesses, local residents and town centre users. Rooted in 15 years of community organising, the Community Plan is a viable and deliverable plan to restore a heritage building, listed community asset and celebrated market, and revive the high street, with active planning permission from Haringey Council. It will provide 1,700sqm retail/café space (including a new market), 400sqm small business office space and 200 sqm community space, including a childcare centre. Its community-build approach will provide jobs, training and apprenticeships for local people. Income from renting space in the restored Wards building will generate a surplus for reinvestment in other local community and enterprise initiatives in Tottenham.
Earlier this year, the Trust obtained support through the Mayor of London/CoopsUK Boosting Community Business programme to develop a new Community Benefit Society to restore and manage the Wards building. The £12.9m development will be funded through a mixture of community investment, grant funding and ethical investment. Promising conversations are underway with grant funders and ethical investment banks, and the Trust has applied for funding and support to develop a community share offer. The Trust is ready to enter into negotiations with Transport for London to secure an affordable long-term lease of the building.
We, alongside Haringey Council, urge Transport for London to work with us to deliver the Community Plan for Wards Corner as soon as possible, bringing to an end a terrible saga which has afflicted the Market and the people of Tottenham for too long.”
The Chair of Seven Sisters Market Traders Association, Vicky Alvarez, said:
“Grainger’s withdrawal is a significant victory for all those fighting gentrification in London. For too long, market tenants and local residents have endured the deliberate neglect of the Market and Wards Corner while fearing their displacement by a scheme which put profits before people.
As London focuses on recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, now is the time for a new approach at Wards Corner. The Community Plan provides a sustainable model for regeneration which ensures local people benefit the most from the changes to their neighbourhoods. We are hugely encouraged by the commitments of Haringey Council to work in collaboration for the community, and their support of the Community Plan. We urge Transport for London, the Greater London Authority, and the Mayor of London to follow suit, and give their support to the Community Plan as soon as possible.
The Co-Chair of Save Latin Village, Javiera Huxley, said:
“The announcement of Grainger’s withdrawal from the Wards Corner site is positive news that will be widely welcomed by Latinx people in London. Alongside the traders for whom the market is their livelihood, a 2011 Trust for London report showed 85% of the Latin American community in London accessed their culture through the Latin Quarter in Elephant and Castle and the Latin Village in Tottenham. Following the closure of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre last September in another redevelopment scheme, spaces like the Latin Village are more important than ever.
We are heartened by the Haringey Council’s support for the Community Plan, which has the Latin Village at its heart. We also welcome their prioritisation of the temporary market, and their calls for further financial support for the market traders. We implore TfL, and the GLA, to move forward with these urgent matters as swiftly as possible.“