Market traders have challenged a government decision to compulsory purchase Seven Sisters market in North London known as the Latin Village. For the past 15 years, Haringey Council has sought to redevelop the site, which is located next to Seven Sisters Underground Station and a key hub for London’s Latin American community, in order to build 196 flats as well as a new shopping centre.
The traders have been offered temporary accommodation while the Wards Corner Regeneration Project is carried out, but their barrister told the High Court that many feel they are being ‘thrown to the wolves’, fearful that new rents will be unaffordable.
Marc Willers QC described entering the Latin Village as like being transferred to South America and, in written submissions, stated that its loss would ‘represent an immense detrimental impact on the enjoyment of the cultural rights of this minority group’.
Counsel for the secretary of state for housing, communities & local government, Richard Honey, claimed that there was ‘no evidence’ to support the assertion that the traders would be unable to afford market rent, and, citing the Planning Inspector’s report, argued that the ‘social and cultural role of the market for Latin American traders would continue’.
The court heard from the traders’ counsel that the inspector had erred in his report by representing to the Secretary of State that there would be an indefinite 2% cap on rent increases at the market per year, in fact limited to five years.
Honey countered that the Inspector’s report was accurate when considered in the round, speaking of the ‘inherent incredibility that the Inspector and the Secretary of State thought the 2% cap applied forever’.
The move to displace the resident traders has been condemned by the UN, who described the regeneration plans as ‘disregard[ing] the rights of minorities’, and as an action which is ‘incompatible with the State’s obligations under human rights norms’.
Jayesh Kunwardia of Hodge Jones & Allen, representing the Seven Sisters market traders, said ‘the development would ‘decimate the Latin American community in North London, destroying its cultural hub’, adding that ‘we have launched this challenge to try to get justice for the Latin American community and ensure their important cultural centre survives’.
An alternative community plan has been submitted to Haringey Council, which contains proposals to restore the original market building and to retain current rents.
The judge has reserved his judgement for Thursday afternoon.