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Labour election win at Hammersmith and Fulham is 'major blow' for CapCo Earls Court development

Labour’s winning of Hammersmith and Fulham Council is a “massive blow” for CapCo’s £8bn redevelopment of Earls Court, community campaigners have claimed.

Questions have been raised over the future of CapCo’s £8bn redevelopment of Earls Court after Labour seized control of the former Conservative-led council in the local elections.

BBC London journalist Sonja Jessup tweeted: “Stephen Cowan, Labour leader, Ham & Fulham, tells me some planned developments here will now be scrapped – won’t say which.”

The £8bn regeneration of Earls Court was rubber-stamped by the Conservative mayor of London Boris Johnson in July 2013.

The scheme involves the demolition of two estates in West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estate, affecting more than 700 properties, as well as the Earls Court Exhibition Centre.

The FT reported the Labour Party has appointed former managing partner of City law firm Bircham Dyson Bell and newly elected Labour councillor Guy Vincent to review a number of contracts signed by the previous administration.

Earls Court masterplan

Transport for London and Capital & Counties Properties agreed a joint venture arrangement to bring forward the first phases of the Earls Court masterplan in February.

TfL owns the freehold to the exhibition centres known as Earls Court 1 & 2, and Capco is the leaseholder of both sites.

The agreement means the two organisations have a joint entity which will own new 999-year leases over the sites, as well as other land owned by Capco adjacent to the exhibition centres.

Ownership of the new entity is split 63 per cent to Capco and 37 per cent to TfL.

The plans include 7,500 new homes, which the JV said would create 12,000 new jobs, as well as health facilities, new schools, community and cultural space and improvements to the transport and infrastructure of the local area.

Earls Court 1 & 2 will be part of the first phase of the Earls Court Opportunity Area. Future phases could incorporate the West Kensington & Gibbs Green estates and LUL’s Lillie Bridge Depot.

Residents have waged a campaign against demolition of the estates and held meetings with the Labour Party prior to it issuing a manifesto in which it pledged to take immediate measures to protect peoples’ homes.

People’s Estates campaigner Jonathan Rosenberg told Construction News the group would hold a board meeting on Tuesday to discuss priority issues it would like the Labour-led council to tackle.

He said the residents’ objectives could “not have been further apart” from the former Tory-led council and that he believed a Labour-led council was the “best possible thing” for its ‘no to demolition, yes to community control’ campaign.

The residents plan to submit a ‘right to transfer’ application, which would see residents take ownership of the homes from the council and protect themselves from the planned demolition.

Mr Rosenberg said he had no doubt residents would seek further talks with CapCo following Tuesday’s meeting.

CapCo’s plans for the 32 ha site include more than 7,500 homes and development for residential, commercial and retail use, including new offices, hotels, a new school, health centre, sports and leisure facilities.

In the run-up to the local elections, Labour also alleged that Charing Cross Hospital would be demolished to make way for flats.

Greg Hands, Conservative MP for Chelsea and Fulham and former Hammersmith and Fulham councillor, described the allegations as “lies”, a claim denied by Labour’s Stephen Cowan, the new leader of Hammersmith and Fulham.

Mr Hands told the BBC the old building was going to be demolished but would have been replaced with a new-build hospital and A&E.

The borough had been Conservative-led for the last 12 years. After Thursday’s poll, Labour had 26 seats on the council while the Conservatives had 20 – a swing of 11 seats away from the Conservatives to Labour.

A CapCo spokeswoman said: “The Earls Court scheme will create 7,500 homes and 10,000 jobs and brings £450 million in community benefits and improvements to the local area, including new roads, schools, health centres and transport improvements.

“The scheme received planning consent in November 2013 and we look forward to working with the new administration in the period ahead.”

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