Tuesday, 19 April 2011

White City housing boost row

Thousands of new homes and jobs are being promised as a housing bonanza descends on one of the most depressing parts of the Bush at the moment - White City. One of the most deprived areas in the borough the area has been in need of some serious regeneration for a long time and at long last it looks like some is on it's way in what our Council is calling a "once in a generation opportunity". But there are disagreements between our politicians about what all of this might mean for local people.

I reported here almost exactly a year ago on the proposed "creative zone" to be established in the area once the BBC shifts some of its operations oop north to Salford. The area is set to be populated by the numerous independent creative industry outlets that already line the Goldhawk Road and from farther afield. Now, our Council is promising much much more, and if they actually deliver it deserve some serious kudos.

Consultation is under way on the White City Opportunity Area Planning Framework so people can have their say about how the Council can help make the area an even better place to live and work. The Council think that by drawing up the right sort of framework it can ensure that developers deliver large numbers of new affordable homes along with employment opportunities for many local people.

The area in question is to the east of Wood Lane north of the Westfield shopping centre. Planning applications are expected from land owners including Westfield, the BBC and Imperial College in the coming years.

There are going to be drop-in centres for interested locals to have a look, these are taking place at the following times and venues:
  • May 11 - 5pm to 8pm at Old Shepherds Bush Library in Uxbridge Road
  • May 21 - 10am to 2pm at Old Shepherds Bush Library in Uxbridge Road
  • May 14 - 10am to 2pm in the White City Community Centre in Havelock Close
  • May 18 - 5pm to 8pm in the Wood Lane Community Centre in White City Close
Get yourselves down there - at first glance this does look like our Council trying to use this opportunity to do something for the Bush that will transform W12 for the better - and they should be congratulated for that.

Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh says this:
“We want this borough to provide our residents with a hand up to new job and housing opportunities.

“We want H&F to become a ‘Borough of Opportunity’ for our residents and the White City Opportunity Area Planning Framework (WCOAPF) gives us a once-in-a-generation chance to turn aspiration into reality in White City.
“What shines through is the sheer potential to change the lives of thousands of people by providing these better housing and job opportunities.”
The Council says up to 4,500 new homes could be created and that "many" of them would be affordable - but they do not specify what "many" means. They should.

Particularly since our MP, Andy Slaughter, smells a rat. Here's what he has to say:
"The council wants over a thousand of the new homes to be council homes at low rents. No, this is not some dramatic u-turn by the most anti-affordable home council in the country. The condition is that they are all taken by residents of White City, Wood Lane and Batman Close Estates to the west of Wood Lane. Not one new affordable home must be built.
While Opposition Leader Councillor Stephen Cowan says this: 
"Does the Conservative Administration like the north of the Borough? Clearly not, that’s why their scheme will demolish the homes of over a thousand current households, they plan to bring in at least 6000 new more affluent households who they hope will buy luxury apartments in tower blocks, some of which will be twenty stories high.

Sadly, the Conservatives’ scheme does not prioritise improving the area for everyone. Instead, it is typical of the property speculator led over developments we see with their new Town Hall tower blocks and river front blight in Fulham Reach. Too big, too dense, fails to address the needs of the area and is out of character of the best in the neighbourhood.

Controversially, the Conservatives are actually setting out to change the type of people who live there. Genuinely affordable homes will be demolished and the numbers reduced. Instead they hope thousands more affluent people will move in. This appears to be a cack-handed approach at gerrymandering which fails to recognise that in modern times people vote for political parties from all backgrounds."
Crikey - not much agreement there then - but surely local people do deserve to know exactly how many new affordable homes will actually be built?

If you cannot attend the drop-in sessions you can view the draft framework by visiting www.lbhf.gov.uk/whitecityOAPF and commenting on it by writing to WhiteCityOAPFconsultation@lbhf.gov.uk or to the White City Opportunity Area Planning Framework Project Team, H&F Council Planning Division, Environmental Services Department, 5rd Floor Town Hall Extension, King St, Hammersmith W6 9JU.

1300 UPDATE - The answer, according to the Council who have been in touch today, is 40%. Here's what a spokesman had to say:
"You asked in the report how much housing would be affordable. Page 141 of the draft report - link below - states that 25% will be social rented and 15% intermediate (that's shared ownership, discount market sale and so on) making a total of 40% affordable housing".


  1. You are right.The number of houses in this area is increasing.So, we should think for the way to give it a better look.

  2. Interesting handling of this "row" in the oh-so-independent new Chronicle. I don't have the article to hand but I don't recall a single mention that anyone was questioning the scheme.

    So much for their assertions that they'd retain their editorial edge...

  3. watch out, they get very upset when you point that out