Residents want to take over the ownership and management of the West Kensington estate after a dispute over the rebuilding of tenants’ homes.
The West Kensington tenants’ and residents’ association has proposed that the West Kensington & Gibbs Green Estate is disposed to a resident-controlled association under Section 34A of the Housing Act (1985). Section 34A was introduced by Section 296 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 to give council tenants a “defence of last resort against a rogue local authority landlord”. The new provision came into force a year ago, but this is the first time it has been used.
However, a spokesman for H&F Homes – the organisation that manages H&F Council owned properties – said it was ‘unclear’ whether the group could proceed because the government has yet to spell out what kinds of organisation will be covered by the new rules.
The association says it has made the move in response to H&F Council’s decision to talk to residents about the possibility of rebuilding homes on the two estates following the redevelopment of Earls Court exhibition centres after 2012. H&F Council has issued guarantees to offer council tenants new homes in the same area as they are currently living in the event of a redevelopment of the area.
In a letter to H&F Council leader Stephen Greenhalgh, committee members from the association wrote: “In our vision for the area, residents would benefit from an estate-based and accountable management and maintenance service tailored to meet individual needs. Most important of all, ownership of the estates would be democratically controlled by residents. We would become responsible for solving our own problems, and for assuring our security over the longer term.”
Cllr Greenhalgh said he was surprised by the association’s decision, but said he would be interested in exploring the options. He also underlined the council’s “long-term commitment to improving the estate and providing more homes for local people, whether or not the estate is transferred to the tenants’ group”.
A spkoesperson for the West Kensington tenants’ and residents’ association said: “We will pursue our vision to improve the estates and community we call home by working with politicians of all parties to realise their commitment to empower local communities, and we urge the Council to co-operate with us so we can calm residents fears and anxiety over the future of our homes”