Residents of the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates in Hammersmith and Fulham are today visiting the Department for Communities and Local Government to present the Secretary of State Greg Clark with their case for an alternative plan for the 760 homes threatened with demolition as part of the Earl’s Court redevelopment.
The residents are asking the Secretary of State to permit them to exercise their ‘Right to Transfer’ ownership of the two estates from Hammersmith and Fulham Council (LBHF) to a community owned landlord controlled by the residents.
They hope to use Section 34A of the 1985 Housing Act to take forward their proposal to retain and invest in existing properties and work with their neighbours to plan new affordable homes on infill sites.
Alongside evidence to support their cause, tenants and homeowners from the estates will be handing over a petition signed by residents from the majority of households calling for a community-led alternative to the scheme currently being renegotiated between the LBHF and Capco, the developer.
Keith Drew, resident of 43 years and chair of West Ken Gibbs Green Community Homes, said: “The majority of residents have consistently opposed demolition, 80% according to the council’s own consultation in 2012,”
“The developer’s plan is especially disruptive for Right to Buy homeowners since the compensation they would get for their home would be insufficient for them to buy a replacement home in the area.”
“The council is currently renegotiating the scheme with the developer. It is rumoured that the number of homes additional to those already approved will run into the thousands rather than the hundreds.
“This is bound to prove unpopular with people in the surrounding areas and generate significant controversy in the run-up to the Mayoral election.
“The community has been kept out of these discussions. We believe we can achieve a much more satisfactory regeneration scheme by retaining popular housing and building new homes on infill sites around the estates.”
Homeowner Iona Bain, who is today handing the residents’ submission to the Secretary of State, said: “I am very worried about this scheme and have lived with this worry for years while the area has been blighted by uncertainty.
“I worked very hard to buy my flat here and I have invested a lot of money and time in my community to make it my home. I feel totally let down by the promise of homeownership. I just hope the Secretary of State will listen to us and support the will of the local community.”
Residents initiated the process on 11 August 2015 by serving notice of their intentions to Hammersmith and Fulham Council. The council subsequently responded by asking the Secretary of State to make a determination against the proposals.
The ccouncil claims that the proposed transfer would have a significant detrimental effect on the regeneration of the area and would prevent it receiving receipts from a land sale contract with the developer. However, residents have pointed out that:
- The transfer does not prevent regeneration since the land sale agreement already anticipates transfer of the estates
- Even if the estates are excluded, the developer will still be developing significant landholdings in the area
- No progress has been made with the scheme for redeveloping the estates in the past two and a half years
- No detailed planning permissions have been obtained, the first phase of the demolition has not been agreed and the residents’ contracts have not been finalised
- Both Capco and LBHF want to change the current scheme, which would require revision to the sale agreement and a fresh outline planning application
- The Council’s financial receipts from the developer will be more than soaked up by its expenditure on the scheme