Campaigners fighting to save the UK's last-standing Latin American market have claimed a 'significant' victory after a property developer abandoned plans to demolish it for luxury flats.
The plans would have seen the demolition of the cultural hub and the historic Wards Corner building, and replaced with 190 'build-to-rent' private flats with no affordable housing provision.
Campaigners, with the backing of the United Nations (UN) , long argued the project posed human rights risks and would displace a large portion of the Latin American community who have used the market as a safe space for two decades.
Business owners within Latin Village, also known as Seven Sisters Indoor Market, told Metro.co.uk in early 2019 they had also suffered racial discrimination from officials during the process to take over the market and slammed the project as a form of 'social cleansing'.
Their bid has been particularly crucial following the demolition of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre last year. Although traders fought hard to keep their businesses and many have relocated in the south-east London area, the Seven Sisters market is now the last-standing Latin American market in the country.
In a major announcement this week, Grainger confirmed it had abandoned the plans, drawn up in 2008, citing 'rising costs' and the strength of local opposition. It previously denied claims of discrimination.
Grainger added in a statement that their withdrawal was due to 'the drawn-out nature of implementing the scheme owing to numerous legal challenges from a small but vocal minority', along with 'the complexity of the site and the changing economic environment'.
In another significant update, local authority Haringey Council threw its support behind the campaign. Leader Peray Ahmet said she was 'extremely concerned' about traders and called on the Mayor of London's office to help find a 'long-term future' for the market.
Vicky Alvarez, chair of the Seven Sisters Market Traders Association, hailed Grainger's withdrawal a 'significant victory for all those fighting gentrification in London' and welcomed Haringey's backing.
But despite the milestone development, the fight is not quite over.
Javie Huxley, co-chair of the Save Latin Village campaign, told Metro.co.uk: 'This is a big celebration for us, especially in terms of the campaigners, but for traders this doesn't change too much in the right now. We have got to keep moving.'
Campaigners, backed by Haringey Council, are now calling on Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to support their plans to restore the site, provide a temporary market, and offer an urgent extension to its financial package for traders.
Business owners have been unable to trade since the market closed in March last year amid the pandemic – but even when restrictions lifted, it remained padlocked due to health and safety risks.
Under Grainger's plans, traders were set to be moved to a temporary market across the road at Apex House in June, but now the developer has withdrawn, they have nowhere to go.
The Mayor of London's office last year granted each trader a £13,000 grant to tide them over – but it is 'not enough', said Miss Huxley.
Although some have managed to open new stores elsewhere, Miss Huxley said it has been 'awful' for many traders who have struggled to make ends meet and had to rely on food parcels put together by the community.
The West Green Road/Seven Sisters Development Trust is now urging the London mayor to back its 'ground-breaking' community plan to refurbish the market, which secured planning permission in 2019.
Architectural designer for the trust, Ben Beach, told Metro.co.uk: 'The Wards Corner community plan has the potential to be an exemplar of how urban regeneration could be done differently.
'The scheme will reinvest all profits back into the local community, guarantee the sustainability of the existing market, and provide new cultural and community facilities for the benefit of everyone in Tottenham.'
Latin Village was home to 60 independent businesses, employing around 150 people – 70% of whom are migrant women and refugees relying on it for childcare and a sense of home.
Around 85% of the Latin American community in London accessed their culture through the Tottenham market and the Latin Quarter in Elephant and Castle, according to a 2011 Trust.
Miss Huxley said that every day the market remains closed, the Latin American community is missing out on vital services and a safe space – something of particular concern during the pandemic.
She said: 'If it wasn't for our campaign and Latin Elephant's campaign fighting our corner, what would have happened to the Latin American community in this time?
'We would've just been pushed further and further out. This is a process of social cleansing and gentrification.'
'That's why it's even more important that we give people on the periphery, or marginal people, a voice,' she added.
The Mayor of London's office and TfL, which owns the land, said they were 'keen to work with both traders and Haringey council to ensure the market has a long term viable future at Seven Sisters.'
A Mayor of London spokesperson said: 'We are aware that the temporary relocation of the market to Apex Gardens is no longer going ahead and will be considering how best to assist traders during the short term.'
Graeme Craig, TfL's director of commercial development, said: 'We know how much the market means to the small businesses based there and the local community and we want to see traders being able to operate safely again as soon as possible.
'We will now be using this moment to work with the local community and stakeholders, including Haringey Council, while we consider our potential next steps and options.'
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