Thursday, 4 July 2013

West Ken: Boris signs death warrant

As expected, and despite the loud voices of residents and politicians from across the political spectrum, Boris has backed his allies in Hammersmith Town Hall and approved the demolition of the West Ken and Gibbs Green Estates, in order that the redevelopment of Earl's Court into luxury flats can go ahead.

Reaction coming in, but to date Andy Slaughter has said:
"Earl’s Court/West Ken is the Tories’ biggest social engineering project, uprooting thousands of low income Londoners and replacing them with ten times the number of high –rise luxury flats for overseas and City investors. As planning authorities, the Tory Mayor and councils have torn up the rule book to help their developer friends, and as landowners they have sweetened the deal with hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money. This is ideology and gerrymandering corrupting local government as never before.

Only a change of council in Hammersmith & Fulham or a change of Government will decisively tip the balance back in favour of residents. In the meantime we will be demanding the Secretary of State calls this application in for Public Inquiry in view of its size, controversy and the conflicts of interest of local politicians. Failing that residents will resort to judicial review of the flawed planning decisions".

The property developers, on the other hand, are delighted. Here's Gary Yardley, Investment Director at Capital & Counties Properties PLC, the parent company of EC Properties LP:
“We are delighted that the Mayor has approved the regeneration of the Earls Court Opportunity Area. This remarkable project will bring major investment, jobs and high-quality homes to West London. With Hammersmith and Fulham Council we have agreed a generous package of community benefits that will support a vibrant, thriving, strong community creating a great place to live, work and visit. We are very pleased that the Mayor has put his seal of approval on this.”
While his colleague Nick Botterill, leader of Hammersmith & Fulham council says:
"We have said all along that we will only agree to the estates being included in the redevelopment of Earls Court if it benefitted people living on the estates. Estate residents are being offered some of the best terms ever negotiated in any regeneration scheme in the country. There can be no doubt that this scheme will have enormous benefits for both estate residents and London as a whole.”


  1. I'm not clear on the 'uprooting and replacing' bit of what Slaughter says. Are the existing residents guaranteed equivalent accommodation in the new development or not?

    1. H: Well they're certainly being uprooted and their homes replaced. Everything else from all other parties is just the usual rhetoric. Having double moves over an extended period for the older residents may well prove rather traumatic for them.

      The only guarantee the existing residents will get is of what is deemed to be suitable equivalent accommodation. This may not meet the expectations they're being asked to believe they will be offered.

      I have to say though that I don't know much about these 2 estates, so I can't really comment on them directly.

    2. I take your point about double relocations, which few could welcome, and the residents have of course made it clear that they are mostly against the scheme. It just struck me as unlikely that the residents were to be 'replaced', which is what Mr Slaughter says, as opposed to their homes.

      I certainly have little knowledge of that part of H&F, and no particular view on the merits of the redevelopment.

    3. Ah yes, I see your point: I just hadn't read it that way.

      As for the estates, I understand (but may be wrong on this) that at least one is largely low-rise and unusually well-designed for the time. Unlike most of the others which were built around then and have been found sadly wanting since. As for the redevelopment itself, I don't really know.

  2. Exactly. Andy Slaughter is short on balanced facts and high on sensationalist propaganda, as usual.

    1. It's refreshing to have an MP come out in support of his constituents instead of banging the drum for developers and big business. Whatever my issues with the Labour Party or Slaughter (and there's a few) in this case he's been spot on.

      Don't forget that at the last General Election the Tories claimed that any stories about demolition were 'Labour propaganda' - now look what's happening: People being uprooted to make room for the wealthy.

      The anti-demolition facebook group is here for those interested: