"Regeneration" not considering community
24 October ~ Lia-Clera Gomes's family-run tattoo parlour in Tottenham has survived economic turmoil, urban decay and two riots. But under Haringey Council's proposal to regenerate the area around White Hart Lane as part of the football club's stadium expansion plans, she will lose her home and be forced to leave the area she has lived in all her life. Spurs plan to increase the capacity of their stadium to 56,000, a project which the club say will involve significant investment in the local area, with improved transport links and new homes all coming to Tottenham.
Using this project as its impetus, Haringey Council is looking to revamp a section of Tottenham High Road; demolishing homes and businesses in order to make way for new public spaces, shops and a walkway running from White Hart Lane train station to the new stadium. Under every proposal put forward by the council, Urban Tattoo, which Gomes runs with her husband Robert Sullivan and which doubles as their family home, will be demolished.
A mother of two, Gomes campaigned to keep Spurs in the local area when the club's management looked to move the team to Stratford two years ago; and now says she feels "stabbed in the back" by the club. She said: "When we first heard about the plans we were shocked. I went numb. We were scared. And then we got angry. I started emailing local councillors and MPs just hoping someone would listen."
Gomes has since joined the Our Tottenham campaign, a body made up of 30 community groups which has lobbied both Haringey Council and Tottenham Hotspur, urging them to reconsider the redevelopment plans which they say will price many of local residents out of the area. Dave Morris, one of the organisers of the campaign, said that Spurs should follow Arsenal's lead and build social housing as part of the development and invest heavily in the local area.
Councillor Isidoros Diakides, who represents Tottenham Green, is worried that the balance isn't right with the current proposals. He said: "If local people who live around there and have local businesses there are being forced out, then it is not regeneration, it is something else."
Others in the community have criticised both Tottenham Hotspur and Haringey Council for not engaging with the local population in the project. Philip Udeh is a social entrepreneur who grew up near White Hart Lane and now runs projects for young people in the area. He said that the development was "not engaging with young people at a grassroots level."
"By staying here," Udeh continued, "Spurs can be a force for good. But it's a question of whether they want to have a social conscience. You know they're looking to build lots of new accommodation in Northumberland Park, so why not do it in a way that might engage with local young people looking to get proper careers? Rather than just getting them stacking shelves in the new Sainsbury's [built as part of the development] for £6 an hour, why not work with the colleges around here and offer construction apprenticeships so they can look at the area and think ‘I helped build that'."
In a statement Haringey Council insisted "no decisions have been made" with regards to the plan to regenerate Tottenham and that the council were listening to what local people had to say. Councillor Alan Strickland, cabinet member for regeneration, said: "I understand that some businesses have concerns and I've met with those that could be affected by any redevelopments to listen to their views. There will be more opportunities for people to have their say on more detailed proposals later this year." Joe Sandler Clarke