An unnecessary spanner thrown into the Tottenham works

Haringey Council have asked Tottenham to rethink their original proposal for a new 56,000 capacity redevelopment of White Hart Lane. The amendments are being forced by the English Heritage and conservation officials as it infringes on four listed buildings’ futures. Although the proposal is far from being rejected outright – it is merely being altered and resubmitted this week – it begs a question to be asked: is ‘heritage’ getting in the way of progress for the N17 area?

Tottenham’s plan to redevelop White Hart Lane covers an area of 20 acres. It includes the current site of the 36,000 seat stadium, industrial land to the north of this (where the new stadium will be built), a 150 bedroom hotel and restaurant, 200 new homes (reduced from an original plan of 434), a supermarket, a bar and roof garden, a new club shop, ticket office, and museum. The stumbling block comes in the form of four listed buildings deemed ‘historic’ and adding to the ‘heritage’ of the area:

“The first application [was] of concern to us,” English Heritage said. “The amended application, which we are anticipating coming to us, will cause less [historic] harm. It will go to our advisory committee for consideration. That will take months rather than weeks, as this is not a small development. This is something that needs very careful consideration.”

That the issue should be deliberated on diligently is not surprising; it is a massive undertaking that will affect many people. It is more the reasons behind the English Heritage’s concerns that cause me to wonder. The area surrounding White Hart Lane is hardly an aesthetically pleasing and tourist driven locality. The buildings in question, though historic in design, are doing little to progress that part of the borough. The committee and conservation officials are in direct discord to the areas immediate needs for renovation. This strikes me as an opportune moment to marry the borough’s needs with its most marketable asset’s (the club) because redevelopment for Spurs means redevelopment – an injection of much needed capital – for the whole area.

The previous application received strong public backing with over 800 letters of support sent to the Haringey Council by individuals and businesses. The amendments come in light of the concerns of English Heritage and discussions with the government’s Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE). It is generally thought that the improved proposal will be accepted and Daniel Levy optimistically summarised the changes:

“We have looked again at the overall master plan and design of buildings in the south, as well as the impact on Tottenham High Road. We have used this opportunity to make further design improvements to the scheme…There is undoubtedly huge support for the development and for retaining the club in the borough. Following the consultation period on these new plans we look forward to proceeding to a Haringey Council planning committee to determine the application shortly.”

I don’t doubt that the proposal will eventually be approved and that work on the new stadium will begin later this year but English Heritage and conservation officials have seriously misplaced their notions of heritage and much-needed progress by forcing the North London club to revise their plans.

If you enjoyed this, you can follow me on Twitter