“Eccentric and counterintuitive”

Toddling up Tottenham High Road I can’t help but be saddened by the massive plans for redevelopment they have for here. Now, I’m no idiot, I’m aware that these things happen for the best or worst of reasons, and that Joe Public has very little say, and I’m aware that these projects are rarely so straightforward as to be just a redevelopment project, or just a new football ground, and I’m aware that I can’t foresee the future, and I can’t know how things will pan out.

But. All this considered, I mostly see a massive waste of some of the most beautiful buildings in North London, for very little gain. North Tottenham was one of Haringey’s first conservation areas. It’s full of beautiful early Victorian architecture, and much even earlier than that. This was a well-to-do suburb, home to Edmund Gosse, Luke Howard, William Forster, Rowland Hill and, um, Leslie Phillips, and the area reflects that. For all this heritage, the limbo of the Spurs stadium redevelopment process has left it desolate – boarded windows and empty shops abound while the plans are up in the air.

The controversial plans (as hated on by CABE) would see a swathe of listed buildings done away with, replaced with a wavy glass and steel stadium and ‘integrated’ public space, very much along the lines of the Emirates in Highbury. This would see the footprint of the stadium shifted north to make space for a new hotel (in Tottenham?), supermarket (according to Spurs, most residents go outside the area for shopping… who did they ask exactly? Presumably not those coming out of Sainsburys over the road, or any of the other multitude of independent stores) and housing (in apartment blocks, natch). Best of all there will be an extensive public space. Complete with light poles, this is designed to be part active space (for civic functions and the like) and part passive space (according to the plans, this seems to imply somewhere for coffee drinkers to be). What a waste of an environment that has something really going for it as it is, if only the monolithic Spurs machine would stop hanging like the sword of Damocles over local residents and business.

I’ve looked at plenty of urban regeneration examples recently. It seems to me that one of the least necessary things in Tottenham is an enclave of middle-class exclusivity to serve transient visiting populations, and a heap of dead, left-over space which will go largely unused the majority of the time – as happens in Highbury. I find this sort of mass imposition insidious and unsettling, with the usual feints at public consultation and assumptions of consensus of opinion. What Tottenham needs is support for the businesses and residents that actually use the area on a daily basis. Clean the environment up, as has started to happen in Bruce Grove; renovate those beautiful buildings that are so threatened; the public transport infrastructure is fine, but perhaps tidy up the snarl of traffic around the Northumberland Park junction. Best of all, in my humble opinion, would be to shift the stadium wholesale, perhaps to Picketts Lock as was formerly mooted – that would give some actual stability to an area which has been neglected because of uncertainty for years, and badly needs some solid, enduring support – not a heap of cash thrown at something few want.


One Response

  1. I think the main problem is the Haringey Council is incapable of saying no to developers. Rather than do the hard thing–clean up historic areas and encourage a wide range of businesses to our high streets–it’s much easier to bend over backwards when a big developer sweeps in and waves a bunch of cash around. Meanwhile, the residents are left with unusable public spaces and high streets littered with betting offices and 99p shops.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: