Contractor’s Europe boss says firm ’seeking legal advice’ after £2bn JV with north London council was pulled three weeks ago
Lendlease has put Haringey council on notice that it is looking at legal action after the council ditched the controversial housing plan the pair had agreed 18 months ago.
The north London borough voted last month to bin the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV), a joint venture created by the previous Labour administration, which planned to build around 6,000 homes.
Lendlease’s chief executive of Europe, Dan Labbad, who spoke at the council meeting three weeks ago, said the firm had spent the time since consulting its lawyers. He told Building: “Following the council’s decision not to proceed with HDV, we are seeking legal advice and considering the options available to us.”
Lendlease is looking at recouping its costs as well as compensation after the £2bn deal, which was agreed last February, was pulled by the new council leadership. Labbad said the firm had been left frustrated by its dealings with the council and added: “We’ve made every effort to work with the council to find a way forward to help solve Haringey’s housing crisis.
“The residents of Haringey will sadly suffer most from the council’s decision, missing out on the enormous benefits of homes, jobs and the wider community facilities that HDV would have delivered.”
The new Labour council, backed by the Momentum activist group, fought the local elections in May on a manifesto that included a commitment to scrap the HDV. At last month’s meeting, new council leader Joseph Ejiofor said Haringey was committed to building affordable homes over the next four years, including the delivery of 1,000 council homes.
“We start from the principle the council should be delivering those homes itself,” said Ejiofor. “We have now taken decisive action to set a new direction for the council.”
Instead of progressing with the HDV, Haringey has given the go-ahead to set up a housebuilding company wholly owned by the borough, which it said would “ramp up the delivery of quality new-build homes, with a particular focus on providing homes for the more than 9,000 families on the council’s housing register”.
The council said the wholly-owned company had identified “three medium-sized [council-owned] sites” in the borough where, subject to planning consents, it could build between 10 and 150 homes, while more sites were being considered.
The new company has yet to be formally launched, and it has not been revealed where investment funding will come from. The council said surpluses from sales and rents of market homes it delivers “will be recycled to cross-subsidise the delivery of additional council-owned homes”.
A report on the feasibility of the three sites so far identified is unlikely to be presented to the council’s cabinet until later in the year, Haringey admitted.