A local developer has accused Haringey Council of holding up plans to redevelop and improve a key cultural venue.

Stewart Wellington wants to renovate the West Indian Cultural Centre in Wood Green and put it “back in its rightful place as the heart of the African Caribbean community in the borough”.

Working in partnership with Paul Simon Magic Homes, he claims the plans – which also involve building housing at the site, including 30 affordable homes – could be realised within two years once they are given the go-ahead.

The council, which is the building’s freeholder, is considering its own housing scheme at the site and says it is committed to “a vibrant community centre that meets the needs of African Caribbean residents”.

But Mr Wellington says its plans are unlikely to succeed – and it is in the council’s interest for his scheme to go ahead due to the high cost of renovating the building.

“We endeavour to make it a statement building, around 14 storeys high – a metaphor for the black community standing tall,” he said.

“We have put a lot of thought and time and resources in to make this a reality, but we are being blocked, stymied, discouraged.”

Enfield Independent: A sketch of how the redeveloped site could lookA sketch of how the redeveloped site could look

Built in the 1980s as a meeting place for the African Caribbean community, the cultural centre, on Clarendon Road, became a hub of activism.

But Mr Wellington says it now suffers from acute subsidence, which has led to cracks in the walls, and claims the repair bill – estimated at more than £250,000 – is higher than the council’s total annual maintenance budget.

“The building is seriously not fit for purpose and has not really been for the past five years or so. It is in bad shape,” he said.

“The council have not really done what they are supposed to do over the last 20-odd to 30 years. Our aspirations would mean that the council would not have that liability. It would be demolished and a new structure put in place. Pragmatism suggests it is not a bad idea.”

Mr Wellington said the council’s position is that it is not a seller – but he claimed it sold a land interest that formed part of another large development in Wood Green.

And he added that because the council does not own all the parcels of land on the site, it could only adopt a “piecemeal” approach to development that would be unlikely to win planning approval.

If he gets the go-ahead, Mr Wellington plans to change the centre’s name from West Indian to African Caribbean Cultural Centre, to “reflect a post-colonial emphasis”.

“The development needs to be organic, from the community,” he said. “That was the spirit of the Windrush generation.

“We have a plan. All we need to do is submit. We believe that in 23 months, we could be built.”

A Haringey Council spokesperson said: “Haringey Council’s commitment to support a vibrant community centre that meets the needs of our African Caribbean residents should not be doubted. That is why the West Indian Leadership Council have this building on such a long lease.

“The council has identified that substantial repairs are required to the West Indian Cultural Centre building, but this is a joint responsibility, and we are working with leaseholder Trustees of the West Indian Leadership Council to ensure that these are carried out so that the building can be used again safely.

“We have been looking at the most cost-effective way of doing that and that is why the council has been discussing with West Indian Leadership Council a plan to build a new West Indian Community Centre as part of a council-led housing scheme in this area.”