Monday, 26 August 2013

West Kensington: Pickles gives green light

The forced evictions of hundreds of residents against their will from the West Kensington & Gibbs Green Estate became a step closer last week with the anticipated decision by the Secretary of State not to “call in” the application for further investigation. This followed the equally anticipated decision by Boris Johnson to back his allies on Hammersmith & Fulham Council, and the news was passed on by the letter you can read above.

Responding to the decision our Council was not slow to claim victory over the residents with Nick Botterill declaring:
“This is fantastic news, ushering in a new generation of opportunity and prosperity for West London. The main beneficiaries will be people living on the estates who will receive new homes, major neighbourhood improvements and the ability to access thousands of new job opportunities.”
He is presumably not talking about the vast majority of residents who have made absolutely clear that they’d really quite like to stay where they are, please, which was expressed most eloquently by this 9 year old girl in the face of Council bouncers at a “consultation” event.

Here’s another resident who’s lived on the estate for 40 years Duggie Fields, responding to the news:

"Nothing surprising and certainly laughable to read that it has been 'carefully considered'........but then it is being 'considered' by people who can't think of consequences beyond the instant money fix that they are so dazzled by. The impact on the wider community is something that they refuse to consider, leaving the mess created for the future when they won't be around to be held responsible. Arrogant, un-principled, short-termism. Nothing new, and currently happening all over London now under this foolish regime."
While Andy Slaughter MP had this to say:
“West Ken and Earl's Court residents didn't expect Eric Pickles to do them any favours, developers always come before communities with this Government. But it has given us time to prepare a legal challenge to the planning consent which the Councils will now sign off. In fact, the slipshod way this decision has been made may give us another way of defeating the development. The Secretary of State says he will not to call in the planning application because it will not affect economic growth or housing needs, go wider than a single local authority or give rise to national controversy. It is a matter of fact that this scheme does all of this. It is the largest development under consideration in London, with an £8 billion value, almost no affordable housing and spanning two London boroughs. Not allowing a Public Inquiry may be unlawful as well as undemocratic.”
It seems that we now look forward to two separate Judicial Reviews as the residents stubbornly defend their communities. You would think that a Government, and Secretary of State, who set so much stall by “localism” and allowing local people to take control of their own futures might listen to these residents. But it seems the prospect of developers’ cash trumps the lot.

Look out for a comprehensive “fisking” of the Government’s letter announcing this decision later this week. One resident takes it apart line by line and gives a flavour of the battle that will now be fought out in court.

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