West Ken and Gibbs Green Set to be Demolished

Council expected to include estates in Earls Court redevelopment

Controversial proposals to redevelop West Kensington and Gibbs Green look set to go ahead.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council has announced that it has been recommended that the Council’s Cabinet agrees to enter into a land transfer agreement to include these estates in the planned redevelopment of the wider area when it meets on September 3.

The council claims this Conditional Land Sale Agreement (CLSA) between H&F and developer EC Properties is signed and planning permission is granted, it would pave the way for more than £1billion worth of community benefits in the local area, creating 9,500 permanent new jobs and 8,000 new homes – including 760 new replacement council homes.

The council says residents living on the estates have created their own steering group, chaired by Maureen Way, and have drawn up their own legally binding contracts with the council should the CLSA be signed and planning permission granted.

These promise that council tenants and resident owners will be offered compensation and a brand new replacement home in the redevelopment. Residents would only have to move once – when their new home is ready, while neighbours would be moved with neighbours.

The size of new homes would be comparable to existing properties on the estate, while the one in ten households who are currently overcrowded would have bigger homes. All council tenants who are looking to downsize would be given a property with one additional bedroom more than they needed.

However, another group of residents, including the two residents associations, are bitterly opposed to the plans and have fought a long campaign agains the council's proposals.

The council's own figures show that residents opposed to the plans are in the majority. You can read their response to this latest development here and the background to their campaign on their blog The People's Estates.

Following the meeting on September 3, an outline planning application to redevelop the area, based on Sir Terry Farrell’s masterplan, is due to be considered by H&F’s planning committee on September 12.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council says the rrecommendation to transfer the estates land follows an independent economic assessment which looked at how residents would benefit from £1billion worth of community benefits with new jobs, homes, local tube improvements, a new school, health hub, shops, leisure centre and park land. Residents living on the estates would be offered the chance to build new skills in preparation for the 9,500 permanent new jobs.

The council also claims the recommendation follows an extensive consultation on the estate and wider area which revealed that the majority of the people in the wider area are in favour, while a majority of people who took part in the consultation on the estates are opposed.

In terms of the statutory consultation on the estates itself:

  • 331 secure council tenants out of 584 eligible submitted responses (57%), of which: 215 objected - 64.9% who took part in the consultation or 36.8% of the total number of secure council tenants who could have participated.
  • 102 supported - 30.8% who took part in the consultation or 17.5% of secure council tenants who could have participated.
  • 9 people had concerns but did not indicate support or objection (2.7% of people who took part in the consultation).
  • 5 people were neutral or did not provide enough information (1.5% of people who took part in the consultation).

The terms of the CLSA state:

  • All homes on the estate would be replaced within the redevelopment area.
  • People would only have to move when their new home is ready to be occupied.
  • People who are currently overcrowded on the estate would be offered a home with more bedrooms. People who are under-occupying would be offered a new home with one additional bedroom above their need.
  • Secure council tenants would remain secure tenants, with rents remaining in line with the rest of the council’s housing stock, and receive £4,700 compensation per household, plus new white goods, carpets and curtains. All reasonable fees will be paid and a dedicated re-housing officer will help every step of the way.
  • Resident leaseholders and freeholders would receive the market value of their home, to be independently assessed, and an extra 10% of that amount in compensation up to a cap of £47,000. They would be offered a 10% early purchase discount on the value of a new home should they wish to buy-back into the redevelopment. They would not be expected to increase their mortgage costs to do this.
  • Leaseholder service charges would be capped for five years and then controlled by the council after that point.
  • Tenant service charges will remain in the control of the council and only cover the services actually received.

If the CLSA is signed the council would eventually receive approximately £105million, an estimated £54million of which, after compensation and costs, would be available to be reinvested back in the borough. The council would also receive 760 replacement homes for people currently living on the estates. Taken together independent financial advice received by the council says the CLSA would be worth £220million to £289million as a whole before costs.

If planning permission is approved on September 12 it would be based around the vision of Sir Terry Farrell’s masterplan which would create 9,500 new permanent jobs and 1,500-2,000 jobs per year in construction.

The masterplan is built on a vision of creating four separate ‘villages’ linked by a new High Street and park. Overall this would include 7,583 new homes, of which 1,500 would be affordable. It would also include new shops, offices, leisure facilities, a new school, new transport links and healthcare centre.

A detailed planning application to 808 build homes at Seagrave Road has been approved by H&F Council. If the CLSA is agreed approximately 200 of these homes would be used in a first phasing plan. People would be moved in defined blocks designed to minimise disruption, keep neighbours together and ensure that people only have to move once.

Cllr Nicholas Botterill, Leader of H&F Council, said: " This redevelopment could deliver the kind of economic growth that London needs to move out of recession ploughing hundreds of millions of pounds worth of investment into the local economy and bringing thousands of new homes and jobs.

" We have said all along that the major beneficiaries of this investment have to be the residents living on West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates, followed by the wider area, the borough and London as a whole.

"We will only make a final decision after weighing up all the arguments, looking at the economic studies and the views of our residents. We know that many people living on the estates want new homes, while many other people have concerns. If the CLSA is signed we will continue to listen to people and do our very best to address those concerns."

August 24, 2012