14 January ~ Tottenham Hotspur's plans for a 56,000 capacity stadium, revealed in October, have caused controversy. This is partly because naming rights will be sold despite the new structure being built on and around the site of White Hart Lane. But the new ground is also facing opposition from local conservationists with the support of the Victorian Society, an organisation which campaigns for the protection of Victorian and Edwardian buildings. The proposed site of the new complex would demand the demolition of a Victorian shopping parade, the White Hart pub, an Edwardian dispensary and the Red House, a townhouse so recognisable that its possible demolition has even met with supporters' disapproval.
But for the society and other interested parties in the area, the loss of the Red House would be just a part of the new stadium's potential impact on the Tottenham High Road area. While not opposed to the stadium's redevelopment generally, critics argue that a new complex could be built without too disastrous an impact on local heritage. They appear to have a compelling case, as several of the buildings in question are listed with Haringey Council and all are located within a designated Conservation Area. As a result, Spurs could face a difficult conversation with the council as they explain how their plans "preserve or enhance the character of Tottenham High Road", an application requirement under government planning rules for Conservation Areas.
The new stadium proposal includes the demolition of historical buildings to create "an attractive open space" between the road and the stadium itself, but 400 homes and a museum will also be built on the site which will strengthen the club's case in favour of the stadium's enhancement of the area. The dispute may seem to some as a matter of business necessity overcoming antiquated values and it is difficult to quantify the extent to which a club is responsible for maintaining the character of its local area. However, Tottenham are one of many clubs whose origins are rooted in the distinctive red brick of Victorian England. They could at least repay the debt to the community that spawned them by committing as little historical vandalism as possible. Chris Nee