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Residents oppose £8bn Earl’s Court redevelopment with ‘People’s plan’

Residents and campaign group Architects for Social Housing have put forward alternative proposals for two estates within Farrells’ Earl’s Court masterplan.

Residents of the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates in London’s Earl’s Court have drawn up a ‘People’s Plan’ to improve and build homes without demolition, CN’s sister title Architects’ Journal reports.

The £8bn Earl’s Court redevelopment – masterplanned by Farrells – was granted planning permission in 2013 and includes the demolition of 760 West Kensington and Gibbs Green homes, subject to a land sale agreement between Hammersmith & Fulham Council and EC Properties, a company controlled by project backers Capital & Counties.

The first phases of the scheme will be delivered by the Earls Court Partnership, which is a joint public-private partnership between Transport for London and Capco. 

Capco’s overall plans for Earl’s Court include 7,500 new homes, of which 1,500 will be affordable, and a £452m package of benefits including £44m for local transport infrastructure and £36m for local school, health, community and cultural space provision.

The alternative plans, drawn up by architects from campaign group ASH, involve building 180 new homes for sale and using the proceeds to fund 70 new homes for social rent and improvements to the existing estates.

These include insulation and ventilation, landscaping works, upgraded refuse facilities and a new community centre.

ASH lead architect Geraldine Dening said: “[These] proposals provide a large range of new homes, from bungalows for the elderly and disabled – potentially freeing up some of the larger homes, which may be under-occupied – to new townhouses for growing families needing more space.

“All this can be achieved without residents having to leave the estate, their friends, family and neighbours, all of which are the crucial but ignored foundations of our social structures.”

She added: “More luxury homes are not what London needs. We don’t have a shortage of luxury homes, the market for which is collapsing. We do, however, have a severe shortage of low-cost homes for social and council rent that people can afford.

“Capco’s plans will only exacerbate this lack of homes that Londoners desperately need and can afford to live in.”

Faisal Roble, a resident who helped create the plans, said: “The London mayor, the government and the council all have target numbers of new homes they need to build.

“Everyone knows there is a shortage of social housing in the borough and in London as a whole.

“The work we have done here shows that you don’t have to demolish our homes to address that problem – in fact, the opposite is true.”

Sadiq Khan pledged in March to review the scheme if he were elected mayor.

A spokesperson for Mr Khan told the Guardian: “Sadiq will review the Earl’s Court Masterplan as he has serious reservations about the overall direction the scheme is taking.”

Residents said the ‘People’s Plan’ could by implemented if Mr Khan opposes Capco’s scheme, or if West Ken Gibbs Green Community Homes, the resident-controlled Community Land Trust, is successful in taking ownership of the estates through the Right to Transfer.

Capco chief investment officer Gary Yardley said: “The West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates have been sold to Capco via a binding legal agreement and the secretary of state has already approved the sale.

“The Earls Court ‘Opportunity Area’ has been identified by the mayor of London as providing a significant opportunity for regeneration.

“The comprehensive regeneration scheme is under way and will bring significant benefits for residents, the local area and for London.

“The scheme has broad support including from estates residents who have seen the quality of the replacement homes that will be provided.”

Last week, Capco wrote down the value of the Earl’s Court scheme by 14 per cent – from to £1.4 to £1.2bn – on fears of a fall in London house prices following the EU referendum. 

 

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