West Kensington Residents Suffer Double Setback

Judicial Review rejected and crucial agreement signed by council

Residents of West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates fighting plans for the planned redevelopment of Earls Court which will involve the demolition of their homes have suffered a double setback.

A judge has rejected the residents' legal challenge which could have threatened Capital & Counties' Earls Court regeneration plans, allowing the Council and Capco to sign a Conditional Land Sale Agreement.

The residents claimed the consultation process which agreed the development plan document was flawed. However, The Honourable Mr Justice John Mitting, sitting in the Administrative Court refused them permission for the application for a Judicial Review, describing it as "absurd" and saying an analysis of responses to the consultation was "balanced and fair".

This was in contrast to the view of Lord Judge Sycamore, who said in October that " the lawfulness of the defendants' master plan for the area is clearly arguable and should be considered."

This latest judgement, throwing out the residents' challenge, has allowed the parties involved – Hammersmith & Fulham Council and EC Properties – to sign the Conditional Land Sale Agreement which was already approved by the Council’s cabinet.

The Council will eventually receive approximately £105m, an estimated £54million of which, they say, would be available to be reinvested in the borough.

The council will also receive 760 replacement homes for people currently living on the estates.

Gary Yardley, Investment Director at EC Properties, said: " The Earls Court project now has great momentum. Following the receipt of planning consent from RBKC on the 20 November, we are pleased to have entered into the CLSA with LBHF marking another important step in the ongoing process to create Sir Terry Farrell’s vision for the Opportunity Area.

" We look forward to working with the local community and delivering the Earls Court Masterplan which will create 7,500 new homes and thousands of new jobs in the area."

H & F Council says the signing of a Conditional Land Sale Agreement (CLSA) 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 amongst council tenants themselves, 18% supported the scheme; 35% opposed but 45% failed to offer an opinion, and 2% were undecided.

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.

The potential redevelopment area includes the Lillie Bridge transport depot which is owned by Transport for London, which also owns the freehold to Earls Court Exhibition Centres.

Hammersmith & Fulham Council will make an application to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  for consent for the transfer of the estates to EC Properties. This is likely to be considered in March.

When the Section 106 agreement with the developer is firmed up, the Planning Authority will refer the planning application to the Mayor of London, while the Secretary of State also has the discretion to call it in.

January 25, 2013