Legal Challenge to Earls Court Plans Dismissed

Judge rules against West Ken resident Harold Greatwood


A judge has dismissed a legal challenge to LB Hammersmith & Fulham’s plan to sell two estates to Capital & Counties for redevelopment as part of their Earls Court plans.

West Kensington Estate resident Harold Greatwood had argued for a judicial review of Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s decision to enter into a Conditional Land Sale Agreement (CLSA) with Capco to include the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates in the wider regeneration of Earls Court.

Mr Greatwood questioned the legality of the council’s consultation with local residents on whether or not to sign the CLSA and also argued that the agreement should not have been signed until the developer had reached an agreement with Transport for London for the sale of the adjoining Lillie Bridge Depot. He also alleged that the existence of an "early movers list" undermined the lawfulness of the decision.

Judge Clive Lewis QC ruled against Mr Greatwood on all three grounds.

Mr Greatwood applied for permission to challenge the decision and scupper the scheme in January but that was thrown out after the ruling judge, Mr Justice John Mitting found that there was no legal basis for the claim. Nevertheless, the law allows for unsuccessful judicial review claimants to request an oral hearing.

When first launching his legal action, Mr Greatwood said: "I’ve launched this legal action to stop the Council from selling our estates and to get the Court to force them to consider our plan for the community to take control.

"I am extremely fond of this flat, it is my home and it has all the attributes for me that people expect of a home. It would be a catastrophic wrench to leave, as if someone was
saying 'You've been happy for a while, but you
can't be anymore'."

Earlier this month, residents of West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates fighting to save their homes suffered another setback with the Government consenting to the land transfer of the estates to developer Capco.

The consent came just a week after residents delivered a petition signed by 1,000 local people to Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, asking him to refuse consent.

A letter accompanying the petition points out that 80% of residents oppose demolition and asks: " How can it be acceptable to you and this Government, as you build the 'Big Society' and implement the Localism Act that this community is completely ommitted from the decision to sell our homes to a private developer?"

On the same day, the residents, accompanied by Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter, also took their protest to the offices of Capco, TfL, whose Lillie Road bus depot is included in the plans and Capco's PR company Edelman.

The consent (under section 32 Housing Act 1985), outlined in a letter from the Department for Communities & Local Government to Hammersmith & Fulham Council allows the sale of the of estates by the council to Capital & Counties Properties PLC (Capco) under the terms of the CLSA (Conditional Land Sale Agreement) previously announced which provides Capco with the ability to include the estates in the development.

The council says under the terms of the CLSA, all qualifying residents of the estates will be offered a new home within the development which in total will provide 7,500 new homes and 2,000 new jobs across a 77 acre development site.

The council says the £8 billion scheme, based on a Masterplan by Sir Terry Farrell, is one of the biggest regeneration projects in London for decades and will provide a significant boost to the local and national economy.

The Council and Capco will now identify the phasing of the development. The council says it expects to consult with residents on initial detailed phasing proposals in the coming months.

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.

As well as Lillie Road bus depot, the land involved also includes Earls Court Exhibition Centre.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson will also consider the plans within the next few weeks.


April 26, 2013