Football and regeneration: who wins and who loses?
Married for 53 years, Theresa and Archie Ward now face an uncertain future.
The Wards have lived in their north London home for 44 years.
“We’ve been very happy there,” says Archie Ward.
“For what little we’ve got left, we’re very comfortable. Our home suits us.”
It’s Saturday afternoon, 6 December.
The Wards watch as thousands of Tottenham Hotspur fans stride past to watch Spurs play Crystal Palace in an English Premier League game.
The Wards have come to give their support to a protest by local residents and campaigners against plans by Tottenham Hotspur Football Club to build a pedestrian walkway from an expanded White Hart Lane railway station to a new stadium.
Tottenham Hotspur’s plan threatens the Wards’ home on the Love Lane estate.
Some 300 other homes on the Tottenham estate also face demolition.
The Premier League club’s plan includes building new homes and a leisure centre with a bowling alley.
As council tenants, the Wards originally moved to the Love Lane neighbourhood when their previous High Cross estate home made way for new roads over 40 years ago.
They rented their three-bedroom Love Lane maisonette from the local council for 19 years.
The Wards then bought their council home in 1989 under ‘right-to-buy’ provisions on a 125-year lease.
“We’ve lived there as leaseholders now for 25 years,” says Theresa Ward.
“We won’t see the other one hundred years but we wanted to leave our home to our son. “What will happen to him?”
The Wards recall their shock and dismay at being told of the demolition and redevelopment plans.
“Just two years ago, new windows and kitchens were fitted in the towers and blocks,” says Theresa.
Initially, Haringey Council officers told the Wards and other residents – at a meeting in a local library – that two Love Lane tower blocks and two low-rise blocks could face demolition.
Later, the Council told Ward and other Whitehall Street residents that their homes also fell within Tottenham Hotspur’s ‘regeneration’ plan.
Led to believe
Archie Ward recalls residents and tenants were told development would take place in three phases.
“They gave us the impression we were in phase three but now they’ve switched us to phase one,” says Archie Ward.
Archie recalls telling an independent advisor the couple might refuse to move. But the advisor warned them they would likely be forced out of their home, possibly by compulsory purchase.
The Wards say Haringey Council, that backs Tottenham Hotspur’s plans, have led tenants and residents – many of them recently arrived migrants – to believe they will be allocated new homes that will be built on the site.
“But they wont get any new homes,” says Theresa. “Most of these new homes will be for private sale.”
In September 2014, Haringey Council state in a press release that ‘all secure council tenants on the Love Lane Estate would be guaranteed a new home in the new development’.
The Council says it will aim ‘to phase the work so residents only have to make one move -with their neighbours – into their new home’.
Councillor Alan Strickland, Haringey’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration says: “I share residents’ passion to use this once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform our community for the better, and I hope that as many people as possible have their say.’
Earlier, in March 2014, Love Lane residents had urged Haringey to provide them with a ‘fair share of the benefits of the redevelopment, adequate compensation, affordable choices, and for residents to be treated sensitively and to be taken seriously’.
The Wards say the Council has advised the couple to consider selling their home.
Theresa asks: “But how can we get a good price for a home that everyone knows is going to come down? And I just don’t know where we’ll end up if we live to see our home and street being knocked down.”
“I tell Theresa not to worry,” says Archie. “But what can we do? Even though there’s still one hundred years on that lease, we’ve got no rights. They’ll get us out – even if they have to drag us out.”
“We can’t believe they’re going to tear down all these houses – especially with the housing crisis they keep going on about.”
The Wards also feel Haringey Council and local police have neglected the estate in recent months.
“When Spurs threatened to leave Tottenham a few years ago, the Council conspired to promise the club the earth,” says Archie.
“I just hope these people campaigning here today can stop all this from happening.”
“We’ve told the Council we’re happy living in our home,” says Theresa.
“We thought we’d end our days in our home with nothing to worry about.
“And now all this is happening to us.”
© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, 2014