‘What Future for Haringey?’ is a film that was made by Haringey Council in 1974 about the challenges facing the borough. The HHS’s David Frith gets a credit at the very start so we’ve asked him for his thoughts on seeing it again all these years later.
It is interesting to consider this excellent film in the political context of 46 years ago. It was made in May 1974 a few months after Harold Wilson’s Labour Party had been returned to Government. In those days local government, and particularly town planners, were able to take a more optimistic approach than they can today.
Many of the problems of Haringey have not changed although the statistics relating to housing supply would need updating. In spite of the Council’s very active housing programme, the housing problems still exist.
It is mentioned that at the time of Haringey’s creation Wood Green was the major shopping centre in North London. It had the only branch of Marks and Spencers and people travelled from far and wide to shop there. Unfortunately, before this eminence could be exploited, we were overtaken by Brent Cross and many other shopping centres. The creation of numerous jobs for office workers was not achieved and the proposed new roads, with upper level pedestrian circulation, did not materialise.
The meeting shown in the film was the Development Control Panel which dealt with planning applications. The young Conservative councillor on the left asking the question is Robert Atkins, later knighted, who like a number of other councillors used Haringey as a road to Westminster. He represented Preston North and South Ribble and was eventually a MEP. The planning officers present are George Simpson, Norman Searle and David Lewis.