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Doubts over £1bn Lendlease scheme after Haringey chief quits

Questions have been raised over the future of Lendlease’s £2bn Haringey regeneration project after the council’s leader announced she would be leaving her role.

Haringey council chief Claire Kober, who had backed the scheme, confirmed to CN’s sister title Local Government Chronicle that she would not decide on whether to go ahead with the controversial regeneration before she steps down in May.

Last week the Labour Party called on Haringey Council to reconsider its partnership with Lendlease on the scheme, which would see more than 6,400 homes built in the borough.

The project has attracted opposition from Labour politicians, with Labour MP David Lammy expressing concerns over the provision of affordable housing, financial risk to the council and alleged lack of oversight.

Following Ms Kober’s resignation on Tuesday, the outgoing leader of Labour-led Haringey sent an explosive letter to the party’s national executive committee.

Ms Kober said: “The principle of autonomous local government is a cornerstone of our democracy and one I had hoped that the national executive of my party would share.

“Sadly this appears not to be the case. Directing a Labour group in this way is not only legally dubious but also democratically unsound.”

Under Haringey’s partnership with Lendlease, the proposed new body would take more than £2bn of council assets, with the company owning a 50 per cent stake.

Ms Kober said she was “very proud that we have procured a well-established, high quality private sector partner” on the regeneration.

“However, we are still awaiting a judgement from the High Court in response to last October’s judicial review of the HDV.

“Given the proximity that there now is to the council’s purdah period [prior to May’s local elections] – and the current context of febrile politics in which the reality and facts about the housing crisis and possible solutions such as the HDV are able to command less attention than the misinformation put about – I do not intend to take a final decision on the set up of the HDV in the last weeks of the current council administration.

“I hope that a new council leadership, faced with the urgent need to put in place ambitious and large-scale solutions to the housing crisis, will come to the HDV decision-making with an open mind and a determination to do the right thing for the many overcrowded, poorly housed or homeless households in Haringey.”

Ms Kober said she was “deeply disappointed that no attempt was made by the NEC members” to speak to her “before, during or immediately after last week’s meeting”.

“As well as being discourteous to me, it is rather perverse to have a lengthy discussion about something without trying to gain possession of the facts,” she said.

“It is unbecoming of the national executive of a government in waiting to discuss a policy based simply on the account of those opposed to it.”

A Lendlease spokeswoman said:“We respect the decision announced by Haringey’s leader Claire Kober.

“Lendlease remains committed to the people of Haringey and helping deliver the new homes, infrastructure and community facilities that everyone agrees are much needed. We stand ready to discuss the way forward.”

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