500 White Hart Lane development

The short version.

There’s a partly abandoned plot of land at 500 White Hart Lane, London N17, diagonally opposite the ASDA petrol station.

A development company associated with the Tottenham Hotspurs football team, who own it, want to build 145 flats here, with up to three seven-storey towers.

Many of us in the local area are delighted to hear that this waste land, abandoned since Spurs bought it in 2008, will finally be developed. But we have some serious concerns about the proposal — its height, the large number of proposed flats, and the lack of amenities in particular.

The long version

Here are some thoughts on how the proposed development might affect the local community if it were to proceed. This website is published and maintained by concerned Devonshire Hill residents.

Aerial view of the site as seen from a mapping program.

What is the history of this land?

The 0.91 hectare parcel of land at 500 White Hart Lane extends north and includes the yard used by the Build It builders’ merchants; all land owned by the Tottenham Hotspurs football team, a subsidiary of ENIC group. The strip of light industry along the north end of this section of White Hart Lane contained, at one point, brickyards, a mineral water factory, and an industrial bakery. These concerns are long gone, and the area is now dominated by a self-storage facility, various light industries, a Selco builders' warehouse, and a Screwfix retail shop.

The area at 500 White Hart Lane was a tile shop at one point, but has long been an abandoned lot filled with vegetation, junk, and a ruined building.

The land is one of Haringey Council's Locally Significant Industrial Sites (LSIS), which means it’s safeguarded for commercial and industrial development, and shouldn’t be used for other uses, such as residential development.

A short pedestrian walkway runs along the eastern edge of the land, linking White Hart Lane and Devonshire Hill Lane. This walkway is frankly in appalling condition. It's got depressing high spiked fences on the west side, and people leave rubbish in it. The fences are beginning to topple.

The area to the south is dominated by playing fields, including a space known as Haringey Football Ground. The area to the north and east is predominantly interwar (1920s and 1930s) red brick and stucco terrace housing. 

People driving down the bleakness of White Hart Lane might not realise it, but this residential area north of the busy road is quite open and leafy.

Development proposals.

It may seem odd that Tottenham Hotspurs owns a small parcel of land a long way away from the area around White Hart Lane football stadium.

Haringey's website lists a few development proposals which have been made over the years; none which have come to fruition. One was to build a light industrial building and small parking lot. A decision was made in 2010 and was extended. This is because Tottenham Hale football team originally bought 500 White Hart Lane in 2009 with the express intention of relocating Archway Sheet Metal Works, a business that would be displaced by the redevelopment of the area around White Hart Lane stadium.

At some point after 2012, these plans changed. The team's corporate interests now wish to convert the land usage from industrial to primarily residential, and build flats there. In 2013 the company submitted a plan for building 50-100 flats on the land. More detailed plans announced in late 2015 increased this number to 140 flats.

In March 2016 a formal proposal was submitted. This application increased the number of proposed flats further to 145. Instead of a single seven-storey tower, three seven-storey towers are proposed.

It seems reasonable to assume that this change in plans from industrial to residential is to maximise investment return. The team has also said that the proposal means it's providing housing options for some of the families dislocated by the proposed demolition of the Love Lane housing estate.

Development meeting.

In late November 2015 a few A4 notices were tied with string to lampposts in and near the pedestrian walkway, announcing a public meeting for residents to learn more about Tottenham Hotspur's plans for redeveloping the site.

No notices were, to our knowledge, distributed to local residents beforehand. A small text notice was posted on Haringey's development website. As far as we know, this was the full extent of public notification of this important meeting.

The initial public consultation meeting was held on 10 December 2015 at the Selby Centre, N17 8JL.

The meeting was attended by four Haringey council members (Councillors Charles Adje, Gideon Bull, Anne Stennett, and John Bevan) about half a dozen residents, a Haringey planning employee, and several representatives from the development corporation hired by Tottenham Hale football team. Councillors Adje, Bull, and Stennett were representing the White Hart Lane ward. Councillor Bevan represents Northumberland Park, and was in attendance representing Haringey's Planning Subcommittee.

The meeting was chaired by the representative from Haringey, and the corporate representatives gave a talk promoting the proposed redevelopment project. Questions were then taken from residents and council members.

A small brochure produced by the developer, containing some maps and selective illustrations of the proposed project, were handed out. These brochures, which included an invitation to attend the consultation, were delivered to local residences the next day. (the day AFTER the actual meeting)

The proposal.

Tottenham Hotspurs’ development company wish to convert the land at 500 White Hart Lane from industrial use to mixed use; primarily residential. The plan is to build a group of residential tower blocks, ranging from 5 to 7 storeys in height, to accommodate 145 flats (initially 140). A small building to the northwest of the site would be rented out to businesses; presumably for use as offices.

The land between the buildings would be lightly landscaped or reserved for 70 parking spots. The land to the east of the development area would be left open to the public footpath joining White Hart Lane and Devonshire Hill Lane.

To allegedly minimise the impact the buildings would have on local houses, the plan indicated that the building heights would be stepped. This also takes advantage of the natural slope of the hillside, which is higher to the north and lower to the south. The three tallest towers would thus be 7 storeys tall on the west side, but would be shorter in the northeast corner.

Primary road access to the site would be via White Hart Lane, where the current Build It entrance is located. There would be a dead end to the north. A small secondary access road would be located next to the footpath on White Hart Lane, but it wouldn’t connect to the main access road.

At councillors' prompting, the developers’ representatives could not state whether any decision had been made concerning the number of flats which would be designated affordable or subsidised housing, and whether such housing would be segregated in one area or peppered throughout the development. No breakdown was provided by the developer as to how many flats would be 1, 2, 3, or 4 bedroom. (i.e.: are the developers marketing to singles or families with children?)

The land at the moment.

In late January 2015 an enormous quantity of gravel was transferred to the abandoned section of the site. This gravel, “unwashed aggregate” is to be used in the construction of the new Hotspurs stadium.

The owners of the site are permitted to use the site for up to 28 days without applying for additional planning permission. This did not occur, as far as we’re aware.

3 February 2016 — the site as seen from public footpaths.

Strengths of the proposal.

It's great to hear that this abandoned strip of land – which has deliberately been abandoned for years, is currently used for dumping and is generally an eyesore – might get redeveloped in the near future.

Concerns regarding the proposal.

Both residents and councillors expressed concerns about the proposed project. Some of these concerns included:
  • Is a complex of 7 storey towers overlooking a quiet neighbourhood of two storey terraces appropriate? There are no buildings approaching this height for miles.
  • Indeed, are 7 storey buildings appropriate given that Haringey's own Sites Allocation Development Plan Document of January 2014 indicate that development “up to 4 storeys may be possible on this site”? Additionally, the council has stated that “...only two areas, Haringey Heartlands/Wood Green and Tottenham Hale, have sites that may be suitable for some tall or large buildings.” Tall buildings means structures that are “substantially taller than their neighbours“, or “have a significant impact on the skyline.”
  • The space is currently in a protected area for commercial/industrial use (Locally Significant Industrial Site). This protection would have to be lifted for the residential use to go ahead. Does it offer enough benefits to warrant removal of this protection?
  • Is this really the right location for a large residential development? It’s in the middle of a transport hole – over half an hour’s brisk walk to each local tube or overground station.
  • What provision, if any, has been made for the increased demand in public transport? How packed will the already crowded W3 bus become? At the present time it's not possible to board the westbound W3 bus at the Haringey Football Ground stop in the mornings, because the buses are filled with children. The addition of 145 flats effectively doubles the local population.
  • The proposal has 145 flats but only 70 parking spots. Where will the extra cars end up? We presume they will be parked on Devonshire Hill Lane and Fenton Road.
  • Where will the children who live in the new flats go to school?
  • What will these children do after school? There are few parks, community centres, and playgrounds in the area.
  • What amenities would be available to this increased population? Aside from the small ASDA petrol station diagonally opposite, there are no retail locations closer than Great Cambridge Road, no restaurants, and no cafés. The proposal does not include any concrete retail or service proposals.
  • What additional load will be placed on e.g.: doctors and dentists? Already 2 of 5 surgeries in the wider area (there are zero locally) are no longer accepting new NHS clients.
  • There are no plans for public space.
  • The proposed commercial building in the northwest corner would be right up against the 5 houses of the Green, north of the site.
  • Is the architectural finish suitable for the primarily red brick and stucco architecture of the area?
  • Is the marketing claim that the development is “mixed use” accurate? One council member pointed out that the proposed commercial building is a small and undesirable space, tucked away in the corner of the site. Was it designed so that it could be converted quickly into flats at a later date? If so, is the claim that the proposal is designed to create ongoing jobs a fair one?
A better way.

The land right now, and the eastern footpath, are a horrible mess. The spot has been deliberately allowed to fall into ruin since its current owners bought it. Everyone in the neighbourhood wants to see it cleaned up and used properly — in a way that benefits the whole neighbourhood, not just the developers.

Doubling the local population overnight is not “regeneration”. A housing project like this would be perfect next to a railway line, near a station. But this is an area with poor transport links. This is a residential community consisting almost entirely of two-storey terraces and semi-detached houses.

7 storey towers are not in keeping with the neighbourhood, especially when they do not include any amenities.

A better choice would be redevelopment which benefited both the developers and the neighbourhood. A supermarket, for example, would be the perfect use. It would retain the area as a commercial/industrial area, and would be a neighbourhood-benefiting space.

Such a development would clearly demonstrate Tottenham Hotspurs’ sincerity in sharing their successes with the community, and would be a complex that could help spark a renaissance of positive development in north Haringey.