Cllr Harry Phibbs writes:
On Monday evening the Hammersmith and Fulham Council's Cabinet approved the next step for thousands of new homes and jobs, with the redevelopment of the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates. The proposals have prompted an unprecedented campaign of lies and bullying from the Labour Party and the far left. Especially creepy was the way children as young as four were approached and exploited. Also residents unable to speak English had their names put on forms which had already been filled in. 42 objections to the scheme came from children under 11.
Residents were told by objectors that they would not be offered replacement housing - or that if they were, it would be in Barking and Dagenham. Leftwing activists from Paddington and students from LSE were bused in to spread a message of scaremongering. A "drop in" session to answer questions for local residents about what was on offer was disrupted by protestors from outside the area.
Yet the more residents find out about the opportunities the more they support them. That was shown by majority support for the scheme among those who gave their individual responses in a recent consultation - rather than being "persuaded" to put their name to a standardised response giving someone else's view. Some residents who intially allowed their names to go on the pro forma rejection, then gave another response backing the plan.
The existing West Ken and Gibbs Green estates are currently somewhat closed off from the wider area. The redevelopment will mean the area will be opened up. The architecture will be more attractive. There will be a new park and a new school.
The Conditional Land Sale Agreement (CLSA) with developer EC Properties to include the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates in the planned redevelopment of the wider area means the plan is a step closer to becoming reality. If planning permission is granted there will be 9,500 permanent new jobs and 8,000 new homes – including 760 new replacement council homes.
Cllr Nick Botterill, Leader of H&F Council, said:
“This major regeneration could lead the way in lifting the country out of recession – ploughing hundreds of millions of pounds worth of investment into London’s economy and bringing thousands of new homes and jobs.
“We have said all along that the major beneficiaries of this investment have to be the residents living on West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates, followed by the wider area, the borough and London as a whole.
“We have made this decision after weighing up all arguments, looking at the economic studies and the views of our residents. We know that many people living on the estates want new homes, while many other people have concerns. If the CLSA is signed we will continue to listen to people and do our very best to address those concerns.”
Residents living on the estates have created their own steering group, chaired by Maureen Way, and have drawn up their own legally binding contracts with the council should the CLSA be signed and planning permission granted. These promise that council tenants and resident owners will be offered compensation and a brand new replacement home in the redevelopment. Residents would only have to move once – when their new home is ready, while neighbours would be moved with neighbours. The deal negotiated by residents is better than in any comparable scheme across London - yet their efforts are insulted by Labour councillors.
By the way, the Labour MP Andrew Slaughter behaved like a student politician at the meeting on Monday trying to disrupt proceedings. Astonishingly he claims to have been "forcibly removed" from the meeting. Yet as those present will know he remained at the meeting - as after a warning, he desisted from his agitprop antics. Plenty of time was given for opponents with serious points to make.