Save Tottenham's Pueblito Paisa

Tottenham's Pueblito Paisa, home to the capital's vibrant Latin American community, is under threat. Time Out investigates

  • Save Tottenham's Pueblito Paisa

    The Coalition's lawyer

  • The sound of salsa blasts on to the steamy July street, snatches of Spanish drift up from the tables of an outdoor café and market traders greet each other with kisses. But this isn’t Bogotá or Lima: it’s Tottenham, where locals have established Pueblito Paisa, the largest Latin American market in England, selling everything from cornbread to, er, male corsets.

    ‘This is a little piece of Latin America in London,’ says Victoria Alvarez, who works in a money-transfer shop here. She is also the force behind a campaign to save the market from plans by developers Grainger to bulldoze it to make way for high street retailers and 197 flats. The Edwardian building which houses the market would go, as would some nearby businesses. Haringey Council supports the plans; the burgeoning community of Colombians and Peruvians does not.

    ‘It’s an exuberant place at the heart of our community,’ says Alvarez, who arrived in London from Colombia five years ago. Lagu Sukumaran runs Fair Deal, a grocery store which would be demolished under Grainger’s proposals. ‘It would devastate my family,’ he says. ‘I’ve invested everything into the business and so have all the other traders here. The market makes Tottenham unique; it’s a social hub for the community.’

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    Pueblito Paisa is the largest Latin American market in England

    But there is a glimmer of hope. Locals have been fighting back – with notable success. The Wards Corner Community Coalition, which is made up of traders and local residents, has organised a flurry of protests – including a human chain of 500 people which recently surrounded the market.

    It has also put forward its own plans to save the site, which would retain the market and use the space above it for restaurants, affordable business units and flats. The group has also won support from Mayor Boris Johnson, who wrote to the council at the end of July, urging it to review Grainger’s proposals ‘and put the livelihood of the traders and locals who rely on this market at the core of their decision’.

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    Fair Deal owner, Lagu Sukumaran

    The campaign may be working: Grainger has told the council it is deferring its plans. ‘The planning application was the culmination of four years’ work to deliver much-needed regeneration of the site and facilitate the wider social and economic regeneration of the Seven Sisters area,’ Grainger told Time Out. ‘We note the comments from the Mayor and the council and agree to allow for further consideration of how best to bring forward these regeneration proposals.’

    But campaigners, who are putting forward their own plans in September, say there is a long way to go. ‘This has put things on ice, but Grainger will try again,’ says Alvarez. ‘We won’t give up without a fight. We are united in outrage.’

    Pueblito Paisa, 231 High Road, N15.

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