Dr Sara Gonzalez, Associate Professor, School of Geography, University of Leeds
LS2 9JT, email@example.com
21 October 2016
National Planning Casework Unit, 5 Philips Place, Colemore Row, Birmingham, B3 2PW
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
RE: London Borough of Haringey, Wards Corner Regeneration Project Compulsory Purchase Order 2016
I am writing to object to the CPO put forward by Haringey for the Seven Sisters regeneration plans, in particular the negative impact that this will have on the Seven Sisters market in Wards Corner
I write as an expert on Traditional Retail Markets and specifically the community value that they can bring to our cities. I have conducted research on Seven Sisters Market as well as other markets across the UK and internationally and published this work in several outlets – see below list of references.
This community value is very much attached to the particular combination of people and place that have grown in Pueblito Paisa over many years and through the efforts of committed traders and campaigners and which provides much more than a shopping experience to their users; it can be a second home, a place for refuge and comfort; a hub for community development. It is very unlikely that this intangible benefits can be translated to a new site when the community of users and traders is not at the heart of the change.
Impacts on Equality: The Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Wards Corner Compulsory Purchase Order carried by AECOM on behalf of Haringey Council is clear in stating that the proposed development “has the potential to give rise to negative equality effects for Latin American business owners and employees who find they are unable to adapt to changes to the market” (AECON, 2016: p.17). These negative effects are planned to be minimised through the S106 agreement but not fully mitigated and residual negative impacts are clearly identified in the EIA.
Unaffordable Rents: One of the most important reasons why the redevelopment and relocation of the market might have such negative effects is because even if offered new units in the redeveloped market the majority of traders might not be able to afford the new rents. It is acknowledged in the EIA that current traders pay “below the market rents”. According to my research from other markets in the UK and internationally, low rents is what partly sustains the special and intangible features of markets; their relative informality and the fact that they provide affordable food, products and services which markets traders can offer due to this relatively affordable rents. The new market will have much higher rents and even if a rent reduction has been offered, this will probably be still higher than the current rent. Paying a higher rent and dealing with the costs of uncertainty and loss of customer base due to relocation will prove too much for many traders. In fact in the consultation carried in 2012 cited in the EIA, 40% of surveyed businesses said they were very confident that their business would not be able to operate in the new development and 40% said that they were uncertain (AECON, 2016: 54).
The consultation of the proposed mitigating measured included in the S106 Heads of Terms carried in 2012 “revealed a significant level of skepticism/pessimism or uncertainty, regarding these measures supporting their business to continue” (EIA, p.54). Therefore there is mounting evidence that the S106 measures will not mitigate against the identified negative effects of the CPO.
Displacement of customers and market users. No research seems to have been conducted on the negative effects for the customers and users of the market who are not only residents in the area but might come for further afield to seek specialty produce and the very special social atmosphere of the market. Evidence from our research across markets in the UK shows that market users (especially those in low income or more vulnerable) are likely to be displaced when redevelopment projects take place for different reasons: the higher rents that traders have to pay impact on the price of produce which many low income customers might not be able to afford anymore; loss of sense of place and familiarity; lack of atmosphere. These users then lose a valuable socializing space and have to travel longer to find the same products.
Worsening of community cohesion: The issue of the displacement of market customers and users is partly dealt with in the EIA when it refers to the negative impacts of the CPO on community cohesion. It is clearly identified that the CPO poses ”a potential threat to the cultural connections of the Latin American community employed at and visiting the market, given the evidence that the market provides a social hub for social interaction as well as commercial interaction for this group” (EIA, 2016: p.20). This issue also extends to the negative impact on “interaction between different racial groups […] which contribute to community cohesion” (EIA, 2016: 21) and no clear mitigating measures are proposed against this.
London Plan: This CPO and its related development does not fit the existing London Plan. Policy 2.9 Inner London Strategic planning requires that boroughs support and enhance its “distinct environment” of which the current Seven Sisters Indoor Market is a magnificent example. Policy 3.1 “Ensuring equal chances for all” requires the development proposals should protect and enhance facilities that meet the needs of particular groups and communities and the London Plan does not support proposal involving loss of these facilities without adequate justification or provision for replacement, which given the points discussed above this proposed CPO would go against.
Renovation of existing building. It has been shown that a renovation and regeneration of the existing site is possible without the need for this CPO. In fact, the West Green Road and Seven Sisters Development Trust was granted planning permission in April 2014 to carry out an alternative community development plan. This plan has grown out of years of participatory planning and community work and has received the support from many groups in Tottenham. The Development Trust is raising funds to be able to put in motion the plans. Support for the renovation of the existing building is shown in the 2012 consultation where it was found that “there was strong support for the renovation of the existing building and surroundings” (EIA, 2016: 55).
Learning form the Shepherds Bush Market case. In August 2016 the CPO order made by the Hammersmith and Fulham Council and confirmed by Community Secretary Eric Pickles in 2014 was quashed. This CPO related to plans with private developers Orion to build over 200 homes none of which affordable which would transform the area and the 100 year old Shepherds Bush Market. This decision followed a ruling earlier in the year in the Court of Appeal which found the CPO unlawful and overturned a High Court ruling made in August 2015. According to the solicitor’s firm that took the case “The Inspector, Ava Wood, had recommended that the CPO should be refused because the proposed development of Shepherd’s Bush Market did not offer sufficient guarantees and financial safeguards for the special character of the market and the long-standing market traders” and this was ultimately what overturned the CPO. There are many similarities between Shepherds Bush market and Seven Sisters Market and the developments that are/were proposed. Both involved the complete remodeling of the area, with new unaffordable housing and many potential negative effects for traders and low-income and disadvantaged customers and users. There is therefore a lot to learn from this CPO process and how the proposed development in Shpherd’s Bush did not guarantee the viability of independent traders: https://www.leighday.co.uk/News/News-2016/August-2016/Victory-for-Shepherds-Bush-Market
For all the reasons stated above I object to the CPO proposed by Haringey council and I support the alternative development plan proposed by the West Green Road and Seven Sisters Development Trust which has been born out of the community needs and developed through ample and real consultation.
Dr Sara Gonzalez
González, S. (Expected 2017) (Ed) Contested Markets, Contested Cities. Gentrification and urban justice in retail spaces. London:Routledge
GONZALEZ, S and DAWSON. (2016) Resisting retail gentrification in traditional public markets in London. Presented at Contested Cities conferece. Madrid, July 2016. http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/103416/7/WPCC-164015-Gonz%C3%A1lezDawson-ResistingRetailGentrificationTradicionalPublicMarketsLondon.pdf
GONZALEZ, S. and DAWSON, G. (2015) “Traditional retail markets under threat: why it’s happening and what can traders and customers do” Public report as part of an Antipode Foundation scholar activist award http://tradmarketresearch.weebly.com/report.html
Gonzalez S; Waley P (2013) Traditional Retail Markets: The New Gentrification Frontier?, Antipode: a radical journal of geography, 45, pp.965-983.