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How Spurs and Arsenal are helping to transform their North London communities

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How Spurs and Arsenal are helping to transform their North London communities

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities, Local Government

How Spurs and Arsenal are helping to transform their North London communities How Spurs and Arsenal are helping to transform their North London communities

Following last year’s riots, Tottenham Hotspur resolved to do more for the Haringey community, including the provision of affordable housing – albeit well away from their swanky new £400m stadium. And much as it will pain them to admit it, they are learning a thing or two from their arch rivals Arsenal. Paul Coleman reports.

Rewind to 6 August 2011; a bright Saturday afternoon in Tottenham, north London. Dads and their little lads stroll contentedly home after watching Spurs edge Athletic Bilbao 2-1 in a pre-season friendly.

These last few stragglers from a 25,000 crowd chat about Spurs’ much-anticipated first 2011/12 Premiership game against Everton, due to be played at the club’s White Hart Lane stadium on August 13. But the fans’ post-match insouciance rapidly turns to anxiety as they near Tottenham Police Station.

An angry protest against the police shooting two days earlier of local black man Mark Duggan has turned violent. Panicking fans bolt for cover beneath a hail of hurled missiles.

Sadly, the rest is infamy. Rioters destroy police vehicles and loot Tottenham shops.

The landmark Carpetright store is callously set on fire after midnight, including 26 top floor affordable flats run by the Metropolitan Housing Partnership. Terrified residents wake to a real nightmare and run to save their lives. By daybreak their entire art deco building is nothing but a smouldering ruin.

Riot mayhem spreads to other English cities over the next three long days and nights. The Premier League postpones the upcoming Tottenham-Everton match.

In the aftermath, a “deeply saddened” Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy says the riots have resolved the club to help improve the lives of local people.

“Through the work of the club in our neighbourhood, we know that there is a strong sense of community in Tottenham,” says Levy.

Fast forward to October 2012. Invited developers and housing associations sip wine in Tottenham’s plush Bill Nicholson Suite. Tottenham finance director Matthew Collecott says: “Last year’s huge unrest starkly showed how things can go wrong very quickly.”

Collecott claims Spurs’ new £400 million, 56,000-seater stadium – literally being built a stone’s throw north of its 36,000-capacity current home – reaffirms the club’s commitment to Tottenham. Haringey Council leader Claire Kober tells canapé-nibbling guests the stadium guarantees Tottenham 300 new homes.

“We were prepared to reduce Section 106 terms to get the Spurs scheme moving,” says Kober, referring chiefly to the absence of on-site affordable homes at the new stadium. “We want to see new housing and estate renewal benefiting old and new residents,”.

Afterwards, Collecott explains to 24housing: “The riots strongly refocused Spurs on Tottenham.” Collecott storms off in mock disgust at the suggestion that rival north London club, Arsenal, could teach Tottenham Hotspur how to provide new homes for local people when building a new stadium.

“Seriously, Arsenal did very well,” says Collecott. “But higher Islington property prices have helped them.”

Read the full feature from the December edition of 24housing magazine here.

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