Last Tuesday, 21 January, Haringey Welcome was horrified to see the Council effectively approve the destruction of Latin Village in the same meeting where they agreed their new Welcome Strategy. The strategy aims to ensure that long-term residents and new arrivals from all communities feel welcomed and respected in the borough; destroying Latin Village, a vital centre for the substantial Latin American community, will have the opposite effect.
Above Seven Sisters station, half-hidden behind luggage shops and money exchanges, is Seven Sisters Market, aka Latin Village. It consists of over forty businesses, with market traders from fifteen nationalities, including African, Colombian and Ecuadorian. As well as a thriving market, it’s a social and cultural hub for migrant communities. In 2014, Haringey Council itself recognised it as an ‘asset of community value’; in 2017, UNESCO noted its importance as ‘a dynamic cultural space.’ In this context, the Council’s current decision seems inexplicable.
The decision to ‘redevelop’ Seven Sisters goes back several years. The Council chose the developers Grainger, who have already demolished Apex House, the council building at the corner of Seven Sisters Road, and replaced it with a block of flats for private ownership. In response, the community in the area has proposed its own Wards Corner Community Plan (Wards Corner is the name of the block that includes the market) which has wide-ranging support.
If Haringey Council is serious about welcoming and supporting all communities, it needs to reverse this decision. The courts have dismissed Latin Village’s attempt to get a judicial review of the compulsory purchase order that would enable Grainger to take over and demolish Wards Corner; but Latin Village want to appeal this decision, and are currently crowdfunding to apply for permission to appeal. A Grainger-developed Wards Corner will be corporate, anonymous and oblivious to the unique nature of the area, officially one of the most diverse neighbourhoods in the world. It’s not too late for Haringey Council to change their minds and show that they really welcome and respect this diversity.