No Gentrification For Tottenham! The Threat to Working Class People and Ethnic Minorities From ‘The Plan For Tottenham’

We were forwarded this report and analysis of the recently announced regeneration proposals for our community: ‘A Plan for Tottenham’. The proposal contains many references to housing including, increasing property values leading to an increase in rents, less social housing, no mention of how rents will be controlled so those on Local Housing Allowance and Housing Benefit will be able to find an affordable home in the new plan, which at the moment many of us are struggling with already. Tottenham has seen fantastic examples of community-led regeneration recently with Wards Corner Coalition Campaign working on their plan for Sevem Sisters, and at Lordship Rec the Friends group has worked hard to attain lottery funding to regenerate the park. We should be calling for the same community-led regeneration for Tottenham, where local people are included in the plans, not just big business and private interests.




On Tuesday 31st July, Haringey Council announced a regeneration plan for Tottenham, the Plan for Tottenham, which it claims will create thousands of new homes and jobs (download at The small print of this plan reveals that it is actually a plan to push up house prices and private rents, reduce the amount of council housing in the area, force out small shops and drive out large numbers of working class people and members of ethnic minorities from the borough to make way for a new middle class population. This is gentrification, people with lower incomes being forced out of an area to make way for the middle class.

Ordinary people in Tottenham are being encouraged to support this plan as an improvement to the area but a few years from now it is likely that a lot of them will not be around to see the alleged improvements.  These plans look like an attempt to reduce the numbers of certain groups within the population, in response to the riots of August 2011.  These riots were provoked by the misconduct of the authorities and police racism.  It is an outrage that the people of Tottenham are being collectively punished for them by gentrification.


The whole thinking behind the Plan for Tottenham is to increase property values in Tottenham in order to increase profits for private speculators and the banks that fund them.  This will mean higher rents for private tenants as well as those housing association tenants who will paying up to 80% market rents.

On page 41 of the Plan it states:

‘As a growing and developing destination, Tottenham will require a mix and balance of housing to support the area’s potential – underpinning this will be a much stronger promotion of home ownership options in new schemes.’

and on page 45, in regard to private landlords, it states the Council will:

‘Introduce strong controls to prevent further conversions and clustering of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).’

They also say they want to work with private landlords to improve the quality of their homes.  No problem here you might think but if private landlords have to improve their homes they will want to charge higher rents.  This will force lower income tenants out.

These proposals would be fine if the council could impose a rent cap on landlords.  It would be fine if the Council was committed to re-housing low income private tenants in new, high-quality social housing. But with no rent cap and no increase in the amount of low-rent social housing in Tottenham proposed, these proposals just mean that people will have to
move out of the borough.

In the same way such proposals as those for a Victoria Line extension to Northumberland Park, and a new White Hart Lane station (page 19) might look positive, just like plans for a new Tottenham Hale station.  But on page 9 we see what is at the heart of this vision, the report says:

‘Tottenham is extremely well positioned to become a new centre for growth in north London. Just one stop away from Stratford and 20 minutes away from Liverpool Street and the City, we anticipate demand for high quality housing and flexible workspace in an attractive setting.’

New transport links are intended to make Tottenham an attractive area for people who work in the City.  This will inevitably force rents and house prices up sky high and force out the local population.  On the same page the Plan cites approvingly a 2012 GVA/Centre for Cities report, ‘Evolving London: Future Shape of the Capital’ (1).  The GVA is a consultancy who advise property developers.  Speaking of the proposed regeneration of Tottenham, the GVA/Centre for Cities report states on page 15:

‘The speed at which this regeneration takes place will be determined by the ability of the public sector to intervene to counter low values, which currently prevent speculative development.’

It is quite clear that the property developers, the Council and the Mayor’s office are getting together to force up property values across Tottenham very significantly so that private interests can make a big profit.

We must be absolutely clear what the increase in rents will mean for ordinary people in Tottenham.  According to the 2001 census 20% of households in Haringey as a whole are private renters, a figure that has probably increased since the credit crunch.

There are new caps on the amount of Local Housing Allowance payable to lower income households to help them with their rent.  This factor combined with huge rent rises due to the regeneration proposals will lead to large numbers of working class people being forced out of the borough.  Given that Tottenham was going to be one of the few affordable places left in London after the caps came in, it looks like many of these people are going to be forced out of London altogether.


Haringey Council cabinet minutes indicate there are proposals to knock down some or all of the  council housing west of the new stadium, i.e. the Love Lane/Whitehall St. estate (2).

On page 13 of these minutes it indicates there will be no loss of social housing but this is not the same as no loss of council housing.  Page 19 of the Plan for Tottenham talks about a new housing development, Brook House to be built on land owned by Newlon Housing (3).

The proposed site of Brook House is at 881 High Road, Tottenham, which used to be the old Cannon Rubber Factory.

So basically, council housing is lost to be replaced with Housing Association lets, which brings us to the next issue.


In general Housing Association rents are higher than Council rents. Housing Association tenants have less protection from eviction for rent arrears than Council Housing tenants. They also do not have the same democratic oversight that exists (in theory anyway) for council housing (4).

What is even more worrying is the new government proposals for housing association lets.  Housing Associations will be able to charge up to 80% market rent on new lets, i.e. much higher than they are at the moment. This is hypocritically described as the Affordable Rent policy.

Under government social security reform plans, families will not be able to claim more than £500 a week benefits, including housing benefits (with some exceptions, e.g. for the disabled).  There is no actual guarantee that Housing Associations will keep rents low enough to prevent a breach of the new benefit cap. In London it is believed the average so-called affordable rent will be an average of 65% of the market rent in any given area (5). If market rents go up high enough and a family needs a 3 or 4 bedroom house, then even the average 65% market rent proposed for London Housing Association lets could be unaffordable for lower income housing association tenants in Tottenham.

Now on page 45 of the Plan for Tottenham it says there will be a 30 year program of regeneration for Council housing. If the Love Lane/Brook House model is followed, this is likely to mean the demolition of council housing and its replacement with Housing Association lets. In other cases, it may mean the refurbishment of council accommodation at the price of
transfer to a Housing Association, a very common model in recent years across the UK. Now, as things stand tenants forced out of their homes by demolition have to be re-housed in other low rent accommodation, not the so-called affordable rent accommodation. In addition, in council estates that  transfer to Housing Association management, the tenants may face
somewhat higher rents but not the so-called affordable rents. But as the transferred council tenants move out or die, their flats can be re-let at so-called affordable rents.


The number of new lets at low rents will decrease significantly, as council housing and genuinely affordable Housing Association lets decrease, creating a big exodus of the homeless from Tottenham to other areas.

The loss of council housing means it is already virtually impossible to get a transfer unless you are extremely over-crowded.  With less and less council properties or Housing Association properties with low rents, over-crowded families may well have to either stay where they are or move out to much higher rent accommodation in the private or housing association sector.  Benefit caps and regeneration will mean, again, that people will be forced out of Tottenham and out of London.


The Plan for Tottenham is incredibly honest about the Council’s ambition to close down small businesses on the High Street to make way for the big corporate chains.

On page 34 it states:

‘The High Road will become home to more brand names, high quality independents and leisure providers that are attracted to the sense of place and excitement being created on the High Road.’

and on the same page:

‘A revitalised High Road will have fewer retail units and the centres of commercial activity will be consolidated around Northumberland Park, Bruce Grove and Seven Sisters / West Green Road…Lower quality outlets will be replaced by high quality businesses that make a positive contribution to the local area.’

The Plan keeps talking about entrepreneurship but how does this proposal encourage entrepreneurship?  Existing small businesses in Tottenham serve the diverse needs and preferences of the community, for example food outlets serving African, Caribbean and Turkish food, hair and beauty shops serving the specific needs of people of African descent, money transfer
shops serving the needs of recent immigrants sending money to their home country.  Are these shops to be designated low quality?

Anecdotal evidence from regenerations in Hackney is not all that encouraging, for example the fate of the Four Aces club in Dalston and the problems faced by the Nutritious Food Gallery in Broadway Market. Although the threat to Centreprise in Dalston may or may not be directly connected to regeneration it does not say much about the attitude of a Labour council in a borough neighbouring Haringey to a centre serving the needs of the black community in an ‘up and coming’ area.


As well as the threat to small businesses serving ethnic minorities (see above), the whole plan seems virtually intended to target black and other ethnic minorities. In Haringey, the employment rate for 2010/2012 was 64.7% but for people from ethnic minorities, it was only 51.2% (6). The lower employment rate is due to racial discrimination in employment and education in the UK.

Not surprisingly, lack of employment impacts on the ability to pay for housing. 34% of the people in housing need in Haringey are black, 3 times their size in the local population (7).  It is quite obvious that once rents are pushed up and low rent housing becomes more scarce, it will be black people and other ethnic minorities who will bear the brunt and will have to leave the area in a large number of cases.

In the USA gentrification has led to black people being forced out of their historic communities, for example in Harlem (8)
and Washington DC (9).


Recent revelations, along with the Mark Duggan case itself have shown that there has been an appalling problem of police racism (10).

As the Mark Duggan case shows, the police complaints authority, the IPCC is just the police investigating the police. It is clear that black people have been facing oppressive, racist policing and have had no democratic means of redress.  Of course the destruction of small businesses and homes in the riots was terrible. However the fact is that in every society where
people face oppression and have no democratic remedies unrest happens, it is unavoidable.  Punishing black people and working class people for the riots by means of gentrification is absolutely unacceptable and this policy has to be smashed.

We must demand:

More social housing with secure tenancies and low rents in Tottenham to house private tenants displaced by higher rents.

A mass struggle to target landlords who push up their rents and evict working class tenants.

No to Housing Association rents based on local market rents.

Protection of small businesses, including those that serve the needs of
ethnic minority communities.



(2), click on
Funding and Regeneration Package for Tottenham, item 120 at bottom.

(3) Along with a new free school see:

(4) See


(6) (see ).

(7) see ‘Haringey Council’s
Corporate Equality Objectives 2012-16’



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August 19, 2012  Tags: ,   Posted in: INFORMATION, NEWS