A Tale Of 8 Tottenhams - 5. White Hart Lane
White Hart Lane is an area within Tottenham, but it's more famous as the home of Tottenham Hotspur with their football stadium dominating the whole area. 95% of visitors come for match days only, simply because there is not much more to the area, and there is maybe a possibly slightly sinister reason why this is.
Sometimes on this blog I have touched upon subjects which fail to show the area in a positive manner, and unfortunately this is a case where I have to do it again. Nearly every single shop around Tottenham Hotspur's stadium seems to be derelict, and whilst I'm not certain why this is, it's easy to speculate as to the cause. Now, I certainly don't want to say anything that could be construed as libelous, (especially against a team that can afford to pay people £120,000 a week) but I can't help but feel that this may have been arranged so that it is easier for Tottenham Hotspurs to build, and financially profit from their brand new stadium, which is due to start imminently. (Note: this was originally written in 2013, but as of 2016 the construction of the stadium has still not started.) Such a policy may help turn the football club's millionaire owners into billionaire owners from reducing property value around the area prior to the stadiums unveiling, cutting down on the costs needed to be spent in the area and thus maximising the potential profits increase when values soar subsequently, but it also saps the soul out of the White Hart Lane area with empty shop upon empty shop, especially when you get near the stadium. In fact, apart from Valentino's wine bar there seem to be barely any shops that are actually operating, let alone shops that are doing well.
White Hart Lane suffers from the exact opposite of the logistical luck that South Tottenham has in that it is the part of Tottenham which is furthest away from central London. It also has no tube station (here we go again....) but it does have a train station, called White Hart Lane. However, the location of this train station is pretty weird. It is not on the main high road, instead it is on a tributary road, the road itself being called White Hart Lane. Now, I'm not sure if there is a reason for this but it does strike me as bad planning. The few times I had to get off at White Hart Lane there were 40 or 50 people getting off the train and every single one of them, bar none, (and I do genuinely mean every single one of them) then proceeded to walk the 150 metres/200 metres walk all the way to the Tottenham High Road, specifically to catch a connecting bus. I realise that this isn't exactly akin to birds migrating from Canada to Africa as it only takes a few minutes to complete the journey, but it does seem to be located a pretty inconvenient position with regards to making onward journeys easier. Surely you should have the bus stop and the train station meeting? Having spoken to quite a few people who live in the area, that view is held by others. This does cut down the numbers of people that use the train service, and personally I think it is something that must be looked at if that is possible. The volume of bus passengers within the area is huge, and to Transport For London's (TFL) credit I have noticed a marked improvement on the amount of buses that have been visiting the area. Whereas many years ago sometimes buses would pass by without stopping as they were too full, it is a thankfully very rare occurrence now. This is no doubt aided by the fact that buses that go down the White Hart Lane part of Tottenham High Road also visit areas of London that have no tube stations, such as Edmonton and Enfield. For such areas the bus is not a choice, it is a lifeline. especially in areas where unemployment is higher than average, and people have less disposable income.
I've talked about the stadium and transport links, so this is the bit where I start revealing all of the fantastic pubs, art galleries and cultural magnets within the area, right? Well, no. White Hart Lane doesn't have any of this. Lots of residential properties, quite a few budget shops, lots of empty shops, and the stadium. That's it, there is no more. It is also Tottenham's cheapest area, which considering Tottenham is the cheapest part of London, says a lot. In fact, even in 2013, you can buy a studio flat within the area for under £110,000.
Now, this is London, and 2013. And you could get a flat for £110,000 in 2013! For the uninitiated, this is obscenely cheap. In fact, so cheap as to even raise a suspicious eyebrow, in a "too good to be true" manner. But no, those are the prices because the area is unfortunately one of the less appealing areas of Tottenham at the moment. I say "at the moment" because Tottenham Hotspurs are keen to catch up with the north London rivals Arsenal and build their own 60,000 seater capacity stadium which, they hope, will revive the area. We will not know until it is built whether this will be the case, but there is a real chance that the area will improve in popularity significantly when this is finished, meaning that the fortune of the area is inextricably linked to the success of the football team. For example, if Tottenham were to become the new Barcelona of football - which would presumably mean that Tottenham High Road would become the new Las Ramblas - then the area would no doubt improve massively, both in prestige and also in the amount of employment created. On the flip side of this, if Tottenham were to suffer a relegation, and were to become the next QPR, (ie, a team, that is stuck outside the Premierships elite) then it is likely that the area would take a massive downturn as well, especially if it meant that the proposed new stadium was delayed. If you are a local resident, even if you are an Arsenal fan, you should be cheering on the Spurs! (OK, probably not if you are an Arsenal fan.....)
Obviously, the football team is central to the community, but I can't help but feel that it is sad that many of the other shops within the area have been driven out so there will be no issues with compulsory purchase orders that will need to be paid. For this reason I would go so far as to say that I think Tottenham Hotspurs are not actually adding to the local area in the same way that Arsenal are. For example, when Arsenal moved out of their old Highbury Stadium they made sure that the stadium was renovated into nice apartments, the art Deco facade of the building was preserved, and the pitch was turned into a very scenic garden, and padestrian bridges were added to facilitate easy access for residents. Substantial amount of student and affordable commendation flats were built within the area that actually provide something for the community, i.e. affordable housing, and community projects were prioritised. However at present with Tottenham Hotspurs I cannot see what they have added to the area whatsoever, at least in terms of infrastructure and investment. There is a strip of land just of the north of the stadium where, conveniently, Tottenham plan to build a new stadium. This land has been sitting empty for many years. Are Tottenham Hotspurs keeping this land empty so that they can one day eventually use it? Just like the person who leaves his jacket on the seat in the pub, depriving anyone else a seat for a Saturday night in a packed pub, and then proceeds to come back three hours and complain that somebody has moved it and sat down, I can't help but feel that this sort of behaviour is quite selfish. With space at such a premium in London, just because you don't want to use it, it doesn't mean that someone else doesn't need to.
Could they not have leased the land out to the local community project in the meantime for very cheap or even for free? Put a barn there, planted some grass and brought in some bales of hay to create a city farm? Or maybe even create a Saturday Market for local traders, all of which would be projects that would be easy to contruct, and easy to pack down again when the land is needed? If it could happen at least the community will have been able to benefit from the land in the intervening years, the club decided to get its act together and build their new stadium. And on another note, it is quite surprising how it has taken so long to get this stadium off the ground. I would have thought that any football club within the London area would have quite a demand for sports, simply because London has so many residents who need to be entertained of a weekend. Let alone for a team that, for the first time in 25 years, is actually seen as a realistic threat to their North London rivals, as well as also being a team which, barring a catastrophic end of year collapse (which to be fair has happened a few times over the years) are pretty much guaranteed to have Champions League Football next season. Of course there will no doubt be reasons behind the scenes for the delay, but I suspect that if Tottenham Hotspur had built this stadium a few years ago they could already have been reaping the benefits of doing so. And more importantly, the local residents could have been benefiting from brand-new infrastructure that would no doubt be put in place to help service the new stadium. The stadium is meant to be a big part of the area. As far as I can see, it IS the area.
The industrial areas centered around Brentwood Road also soak up much of the areas land, which is not meant in a negative manner. I mean, my business is based on an industrial estate, and industrial estates have moved on massively from the ones that characterised the Victorian era, with smoke billowing from their chimneys and with sooty faced men heading out to the pub at 5:15 PM, only to return to their wives to impregnate them at gone midnight, with a few shillings left over from their days wage. Now they are massive contributors to the economy and society, not only in Tottenham but to London as a whole. Many companies have moved into Tottenham no doubt to benefit from the vastly reduced land prices within the area, meaning that they can keep their profit margin suitably protected. Industrial estates provide a lot of employment within the area, and to this end they are very good. If you ever walked down Brentwood Road (and to be fair, there really isn't that much reason to...) then you will see car yards, cash-and-carry's, (particularly Chinese cash-and-carrys), and manufacturing factories as far as the eye can see. There seem to be quite a few scrapyards based around this area, as well as shops that are both foreign owned and aimed at a specific foreign clientele (i.e. Polish/Lithuanian shops etc). So pretty boring in one way, but then this is where Tottenham has a hidden gem.
As I mentioned, there seem to be quite a few Chinese food distribution centres that are based here. In fact, if you were to look at quite a few packets of some of the popular brand Chinese foods that are in sale in many mainstream supermarkets, many of them seem to have their distribution centre based in the White Hart Lane area of Tottenham. As a result, many of the Chinese takeaways in the area are of a much higher quality than you would ever expect, and much cheaper too. As they are only based about half a mile or so away from the distribution centre, they can buy their stock in quantities that are much smaller. Instead of going to the distribution centre once a month and getting a massive order, they get smaller portions that are fresher longer.
If you are a vegetarian especially, the quality of Tofu/bean curd is way beyond anything you would get anywhere other than Chinatown. For example, there is a Chinese takeaway called PeSing (stop laughing at the back please......) that, the last time I went there in approximately 2010, were still being able to serve people for £3.95 for a Chicken in Black Bean Sauce and Egg Fried Rice. The portion was plenty big enough to feed a person with even the most hearty appetite, and it was,(speaking as somebody who has tried about 50 different Chinese takeaways across the whole capital), to this day one of the best Chinese takeaways I have had. I wouldn't recommend you go to the area just to use it, but if you did find yourself in the area then you would be silly not to. Some of the other shops sell some amazing food that you will not find elsewhere, especially the Eastern European shops.
To end with, a message for Tottenham Hotspur. The completion of the new stadium is desperately needed in order to revitalise the area, but let's get this straight - by the club doing this they are not bestowing a bountiful gift on the local residents, they will be rectifying the damage that they have caused the area over successive decades. When you also consider that they even entertained the thought of leaving the borough and instead going to Stratford to use the Olympic stadium, well, that lost me a lot of respect for them. It seems that they are focused on finances, of course, but also that they have absolutely no other emotional connection with the area at all. None. I hope that they finalise and complete the project as soon as they possibly can, because it is desperately needed. It is also worth nothing, unfortunately, that the crime statistics show that the area has a higher rate of crime than other areas within Tottenham, especially late at night, and although this has improved over recent years it is still worth mentioning. Yet instead of this blog post being about how other parts of the area of Tottenham are so much better, instead it should be about how much fantastic potential this area has. Mark my words, if they decided to build a proper tube line the place would shoot up in popularity, which would likely bring with it a similar boost to the area in terms of investment, regeneration and property values. Maybe now is the time to pub some smart money into the area. After all, it is not as if the prices can fall any lower, surely?
The Best Parts:
If you're a football fan...
Room For Improvement
More things to do in the area