Save Latin Village
Small business owners are fighting plans to develop their north London home.
Video: Novara Media
Tottenham, North London, is home to the Latin Village, the largest concentration of Latin traders in the UK, crammed into 60-odd units in a disused department store known as Wards Corner.
Vicky Alvarez was the third trader from South America to secure a unit in the Seven Sisters market in the early 2000s. Now 48, Alvarez is a successful small trader with a money transfer business and a nail bar.
When the traders arrived they cleaned the market, painted the walls and began adding mezzanines as office space. Alvarez put in a desk and a sofa above the nail bar where her daughter did her homework and napped after she finished school.
But Alvarez, along with the 38 small traders who now occupy the space, fears her business will be destroyed. Since 2004, the traders have been fighting developers Grainger, who have an agreement with the local Haringey Council to turn the site into 196 flats and a shopping centre. In January 2019, Haringey Council received a compulsory purchase order from the Secretary of State to hand the site to Grainger, which plans to demolish the existing market to make way for 200 homes.
The traders, fearing they will be quickly priced out of the replacement market tacked onto Grainger’s plans, have launched a last-ditch legal bid to have their rival plan recognised. This community plan focuses on the restoration of the building, a new market catering for all existing traders and a slower-paced regeneration of the area.
“I believe there is room for the council to realise that this is wrong,” Alvarez told the Times in May. “This place was created to bring communities together – and getting communities together is what this country needs right now.”
New rules needed
Policies that can help unleash the potential of this or similar initiatives across the UK.
Create affordable workspaces
Affordable workspaces are essential to the survival of independent businesses.
Expand the community and co-operative banking sector
Stakeholder banks can be mandated to serve the public interest or local communities rather than simply to maximise returns.
Create devolved ‘just transition’ funds
Government should devolve a proportion of its Green New Deal budget to support local just transition plans.
Turn RBS into a network of local banks
New banks would be owned in trust for the public benefit and mandated to lend only within their local area.
Promote community wealth building
Support co-ops to thrive in their localities by anchoring them within place-based industrial and community wealth building strategies.