Estate residents reject Earls Court masterplan

The
London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (LBHF) will discuss Capital
and Counties Properties’ (CapCo) plans to regenerate the Earls Court
area as part of a Cabinet report on Monday 23 April.
 
But
resident surveys from the threatened West Kensington and Gibbs Green
estates released by the council will make difficult reading, with 36.8
per cent rejecting the plans and only 17.5 per cent of residents giving
it their backing.
 
In the wider area, 448 people supported the
masterplan and 108 were opposed. A total of 253 (43.3 per cent) did not
return feedback forms.
 
“Results of the consultation are still
being analysed, but preliminary findings show that opinion is divided,”
said the council in a statement. “Out of those who took part in the
consultation, more people in the wider area support the plans and more
people on the estates object.”
 
Scant regard is given to the
importance of the exhibition site in the Cabinet report. In a 253-page
report, the site only gets two mentions.
 
The report includes the
potential inclusion of the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates in
the wider regeneration of the area, and a summary of the draft terms and
conditions of a potential Conditional Land Sale Agreement (CLSA)
between LBHF and CapCo.
 
The first step towards Earls Court’s development was made in February when LBHF approved a planning application to build 808 homes at Seagrave Road.
 
If
the CLSA is agreed, Seagrave Road will provide approximately 200 homes
for displaced residents from the West Kensington and Gibbs Green
estates.
 
“We are making good progress in considering future
options,” said LBHF council leader Stephen Greenhalgh. “We want to be as
open and transparent as possible on where we are in our thinking, which
is why we are taking the step of making all consultation responses
available for inspection.
 
“We recognise that while some people on the estates are clearly in favour, many more have concerns.”
 
Under
the draft CLSA, CapCo would be entitled to acquire the council’s 22
acres of land in the Opportunity Area for £105 million, plus reprovision
as part of a future development of the 760 homes currently on the
estates.
 
“We welcome the publication of this report on the
CLSA,” said CapCo investment director Gary Yardley. “It shows good
progress is being made in moving towards an agreement on the inclusion
of the council’s land in the Earls Court development, which we have
always believed would be of enormous benefit to London, the two boroughs
and the local community.”
 
However, plans to change national
housing legislation could hamper CapCo’s plans further. Government
consultation on the Housing Act, if approved, would require local
authorities to co-operate with tenants’ groups seeking to transfer
ownership of council homes and estates to a local housing association,
including any they should form and run themselves.
 
The two threatened estates of West Kensington and Gibbs Green plan to use this legislation. Consultation continues until 23 May.
 
Sir
Terry Farrell’s masterplan for Earls Court will create four separate
‘villages’ linked by a new High Street and include 7,583 new homes, of
which 1,500 would be affordable.  It would also include new shops,
offices, parkland, leisure facilities, a new school, new transport links
and a healthcare centre. The redevelopment would create 9,500 new
permanent jobs and 36,000 temporary construction jobs.
 
London
mayor Boris Johnson made a string of recommendations to CapCo in
December after the masterplan failed to meet the capital’s planning
requirements.

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Paul Colston

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Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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