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Interview: Dan Hawthorn at Haringey Council

Mon 26th January 2015, 2:16 pm

In an exclusive interview, Dan Hawthorn, assistant director for regeneration at Haringey Council, talks about his work and development plans for the borough

Dan Hawthorn, assistant director for regeneration at Haringey Council

Which projects are you most proud of being involved in?

Before coming to Haringey, I was head of the mayor’s London 2012 team. It’s hard to beat that for pride. The best moment was probably the amazing day we were chosen as host city, but for long-term impact I’m very pleased to have set up the London Legacy Development Corporation, which is now driving the long-term transformation of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and surrounding area into a new district of London. And as I live nearby, I’m really enjoying watching the changes continue long after the Games have moved on.

What three developments or enhancements would most benefit Haringey?

If we get the announcement we want on Crossrail 2, we’ll have five stations in the borough on that new line. This will not only transform the connections enjoyed by current and future residents and businesses, but also give parts of Haringey a profile and momentum which will accelerate lots of what we’re trying to achieve. At the same time, we’re lobbying hard for early improvements to the West Anglia Line which connects Stansted to Liverpool Street, and runs through the east of our borough. [The transport networks] are woefully inadequate for current demand let alone the growth we hope and expect to see in Tottenham. The last in my list is one particularly close to my heart: I’m desperate to see Hornsey Town Hall brought back into proper use. It is one of London’s most beautiful old municipal buildings and we’re doing everything we can to bring it back to life.

Which three developments outside Haringey do you most admire and why?

In the decades since the Thames was a working river, London has slowly done an amazing job of turning its face to the river once again, often with really generous public spaces – most recently from the South Bank Centre, via Tate Modern, and now all the way to Tower Bridge. We take it for granted now, but I’ve lived in London for less than 20 years and even in that time the change is amazing.

It’s tempting to say the Olympic Park, but in fact some of the stuff that’s happened on the fringes is just as exciting – the White Building in Hackney Wick, for example, or the playground at Three Mills Green, which used the momentum of the Games to breathe a bit of life into east London’s stunning natural and industrial heritage.

Finally, I used to work for Camden Council opposite King’s Cross and had to stare at that ugly canopy every day, so I was particularly thrilled when it came down to reveal the station’s original face.  Apart from anything else, it brought some of the wonder of what’s happened at the back of the station round to the front.

What was your first impression of Haringey when you started out working there?

Anyone coming to Haringey couldn’t help but feel the energy, and the ambition. This applies to the council, but also to the borough more generally. There’s a real sense that it’s one of the two or three most exciting places in London at the moment – to work, yes – but also to be looking for a home or starting a business.  Everyone here feels it and we’re doing our best to spread the word. 

What makes developers good partners?  

The same thing that makes a council – or anyone else – a good partner. At Haringey, I always expect my team to be honest, straightforward and responsive, to show that they’re always seeing things from the other person’s perspective, even where that might not quite match our own, and to demonstrate real commitment to Haringey, its people and its businesses.  I’d expect nothing less from a developer, or anyone else, that was hoping to work with us.

If you could change one thing about working in Haringey, what would it be?  

Well, working for Haringey Council means working in Wood Green, and anyone who spends a lot of time there knows how frustrating a place it can be. So much amazing potential, but for a range of reasons it’s been falling short of that potential for some time. Frankly, it’s failing to meet the needs and expectations not only of local people, but also the visitors it should be attracting from all over north London. Alongside Tottenham, the council has now identified Wood Green as its next major regeneration priority, focusing simultaneously on a rejuvenated town centre and major residential development. So, as well as making what I hope will be a transformational difference for current and future Haringey residents and businesses, I like to think we’re doing a favour for our future colleagues too.

For more exclusive interviews with senior officers and councillors from London's local authority's, visit the borough profiles on the Sitematch London website. 

Haringey Council will attend the upcoming Sitematch London event on 10 February 2015. To secure your place contact Sophie Gosling on 020 7978 6840, or by emailing sophie@3foxinternational.com.

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