The HDV is described by the council as a joint venture between the council and a private partner, Lendlease, to regenerate the area. The decision to establish the HDV with Lendlease was made at a council meeting on 3 July 2017.
The claimant, Gordon Peters (on behalf of a group of Haringey residents) is primarily concerned about the council’s lack of power, consultation, impact assessment and scrutiny in arriving at, as he sees it, such a financially risky decision to establish the HDV.
Mr Peters, represented by law firm Leigh Day, will argue that the council has no legal authority in setting up a HDV in this way, namely through an LLP as opposed to a company. The court will also hear arguments that the council: breached its statutory duty by not holding a consultation on residents’ views on whether to set up a HDV or not; failed to properly assess the impact on vulnerable groups of the HDV (which it is feared will result in less public accountability); and did not follow its own rules by preventing all councillors (rather than a select few in Cabinet) from having a vote.
The council land which will be part of the HDV includes a significant share of the council’s commercial property with an option for Wood Green Civic Centre and Library (plus detailed plans for Northumberland Park and Cranwood Estates) to be transferred to the HDV in due course. Under the HDV, this land would be owned 50/50 by the council and Lendlease. The council has previously estimated the value of development on this land at £2 billion.
Gordon Peters, who is the claimant bringing this case, said:
“I share a widespread concern in Haringey at the lack of accountability and democratic process in setting up the HDV, and in the risk to our social housing and existing community life. I am not opposed to the aims of improving the local area’s economy and social housing stock. On the contrary, this is precisely why I am exercised to want to ensure (through the legal process, as has become necessary due to the Council’s refusal to change tack) these aims are achieved at the least financial risk, with the greatest protection for social housing and involvement of residents, so whatever happens is done in their name.”
Rowan Smith, solicitor at law firm Leigh Day, said:
“The HDV represents the part privatisation of a whole swathe of publicly owned land on a scale never seen before, with a huge amount of public money at stake if things go wrong. Therefore, it is only right and proper that the court determines whether the council acted lawfully in setting up the HDV, and whether proper consultation with residents and rules on due diligence have been followed. As matters stand, the decision-making process is incredibly flawed.”