The West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates tenants association have served notice of their plans to transfer the homes into community ownership.
The tenants groups have long been opposed to the regeneration of their homes as part of Capital & Counties Earls Court regeneration plans, although both Capco and the former council administration would argue that there is support for Capco’s plans across the estates too.
The Conservative administration who were in power at the time agreed a Conditional Land Sale Agreement, and the new Labour administration, elected in 2014 have not been able to revoke it.
The tenants have now notified the council of their intention to transfer the homes into community ownership under section 34 of the Housing Act.
The legislation compels local councils to work with the tenants to transfer the housing stock. Although they can raise it with national government under some circumstances. Since the estates have, in effect, already been sold, it is not clear what effect this new notice will have.
Indeed, in a letter to tenants in January 2015, council leader Stephen Cowan said: “As they (Capco) now own the land and have planning permission, they will crack on with their current scheme if we cannot agree a better way forward”.
A Capco spokesperson said: “The Earls Court Masterplan – and its plans to regenerate the estates – is well advanced, has broad support and will bring significant investment and benefits to residents, the local area and London. The estates have already been sold under an existing binding contract and as part of the area’s regeneration residents will gain new and better homes, more jobs, a new school, parkland, new shops and leisure facilities.”
“We do not believe that an application made under Section 34a will be successful because the estates have been sold under a legally binding contract. Government guidance also states that Section 34a should not be used where its application could be detrimental to regeneration which would be the case in relation to Earls Court. The estates have already been identified as part of an Opportunity Area designated for new homes and new jobs by the Mayor of London.”
Andrew Jones, Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Regeneration, said: “We have received a Section 34A application from a residents’ group on the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates. We are now considering the application in accordance with the relevant legal requirements.
“We have spent the last year fighting for residents, despite the binding legal agreements and planning permissions issued under the previous administration. We will continue to hold tough negotiations with the developer and wisely use our time in office to improve significantly the offer made to all residents on the affected estates in line with our manifesto commitments.”