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& Residents Associations
West Ken Gibbs Creen Community Homes Limited The Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eland House Bressenden Place London SWl E sDU
Dear Mr Pickles
West Kensington & Gibbs Green Estates - Application from LB Hammersmith & Fulham to the Secretary of State for Consent for the Disposal of Housing Land.
We are presenting with this letter a petition signed so far by 816 residents from 60% of households on the West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates, and 175 neighbours, local businesses and friends. The petition has been signed by Council tenants, homeowners, and Housing Association tenants reflecting the mixed tenure of our community. The petition calls on you to refuse LB Hammersmith & Fulham's application for consent on many grounds but most especially because it is overwhelmingly opposed by the residents
who live there. The full text of the petition is as follows: "We, the residents of the West Kensington and Gibbs Green esfafes, call on the Secretary of Sfafe for Communities and Local Government to refuse consent for the sale of our homes to EC Properties LP because:
. . . .
80% of residents oppose demolition: we want community ownership so uve can determine how best to improve our esfafes and be empowered to take greater care of our neighbourhood; Forcible removal would dislocate the community and harm hundreds of v ul nerable neig hbou rs ; Ihls scheme would needlessly destroy 761 decent homes and cause huge disruption to the area for 20 years; EC Propefties LP's so/e investment is t2 from EC Properties Ltd, which is tax-havened in Jersey and is itself a t2 company; Capco's only partner for the comprehensive scheme is tax-havened in Lichtenstein and is on trialfor bibery and corruption in Hong Kong; the scheme is under assessmenf by the Police and the IPCC for criminal misconduct and conspiracy; and the lav'rfulness of decisions, including the sale of esfafes, is being challenged in the High Court; Preferring speculative gain by offshore lnferests at the expense of UK jobs, IJK manufacturing and IJK busrnesses would undermine the national economy.
The Pime Minister promised power to the people and freedom for communities to determine their own future. Please give us the vote so we can decide whether our
WKGGCH Ltd Company No. 07556140: Registered Office
105 Gibbs Green, London W14 9NE
homes should be sold off and please fulfil your undertaking to implement the law that gives us the ight to transfer our neighbourhood into community ownership We are the People's Estates and we shall not be moved!"
We wrote to you on 13th December 2012 setting out our complete opposition to
Hammersmith & Fulham's proposal to apply to you for consent to dispose of our estates to EC Properties LP. At that time and for the next few months we had understood, based on responses from DCLG, that residents' views would be a foremost consideration in what happens to our homes. However, following being advised on 18th February 2013 that the Council had made its application we were told in subsequent correspondence that consultation with residents was irrelevant to the process and that we are not to be considered in assessing the application. The reason given was that the Council intends to sellthe land with vacant possession. How can it be acceptable to you and this Government, as you build the "Big Society" and implement the Localism Act that this community is completely omitted from the decision to sell our homes to a private developer? Furthermore, the Council is seeking consent from you without explaining to tenants that it will pursue their eviction under Compulsory Purchase Orders to achieve vacant possession, and without advising residents of their right to make representations to the Secretary of State.
ln addition to the petition we have attached a file of residents' responses to the Council's consultation between 6*h January and 12th March 2012. This contains 538 essays written by residents of the estates, young and old, explaining how the scheme is wrong and why they did not want their homes demolished. The Council has itself acknowledged, in its report to Cabinet on 3 September 2012 seeking agreement to sign the Conditional Land
Sale Agreement (CLSA) with EC Properties LP, that: "A significant majority of consultees are opposed to the Council's proposal. When all Estates residents' views are considered there was a ratio of opposition to support of 4:1".
It is also important to emphasise that the Council's consultation over this scheme is the subject of a police assessment into allegations of misconduct in public office. This centres on the alleged use of an "Early Movers List". There is a substantial weight of evidence from a significant number of residents who have given clear and consistent accounts of having received from Council officers promises of preferential offers of accommodation at Seagrave Road (an adjacent development site). This has taken place without any proper basis or any basis other than their promised support for the redevelopment scheme. This and other evidence of impropriety and of criminal offences of misconduct in public office arising from this Early Movers List are being assessed by the Metropolitan Police and the lndependent Police Complaints Commission. Copies of the relevant documents are
available on request.
We have repeatedly tried to highlight our concerns about the Council's proposals, based on the views of the residents who live there and the need for a process that reflects these views. There are also a number of other critical matters, summarized below, that we consider should encourage you to reject the Council's application. These are detailed in a report separately submitted to you by Richard Osband. We also attach a copy of the report by Dr Richard Fordham that raises serious concerns about the viability of the scheme and points to the very serious risk that the scheme will either not happen at all or would
founder at an early stage due to the failure by the Council to ensure each stage is tested for viability and for the amount of affordable housing it could deliver. appointment of its developer partner Capital & Counties plc., thereby benefiting EC Properties LP through the CLSA. The scheme has been negotiated without any attempt to test market values for the land that the Council is trying to sell and therefore ensure that best value is being obtained for the residents of LBH&F.
development and then 20 years for its completion. This will leave residents of our estates in a position of great uncertainty about when or even if their home is to be demolished. There are many elderly residents on these estates for whom this will be a nightmarish proposition.
additional social rented housing. Existing homes will be replaced but of the remaining units, 6,000 are planned to be market sales and only 740 are described as being affordable units. (Nowhere are they referred to as social rented units). How is this the creation of a balanced, mixed community? How does it comply with the Mayor's plan for such communities? Where is the provision of accommodation that will meet the needs of the vast majority of people looking for homes in the area?
each phase of work that might enable the inclusion of further affordable or social rented units if the scheme exceeds current assumptions. This was a recommendation of the District Valuer Service and has been ignored. Why has it not been included in
the developer to complete a phase once started. This again could leave residents with great levels of uncertainty - and the Council with uncompleted works. Capital & Counties plc provides a parent company guarantee for the delivery of the scheme? EC Properties LP has no assets to speak of and publishes no accounts.
A West Kensington estate resident has applied for a judicial review of the Council's decision at Cabinet on 3'd September 2012 to sign the CLSA. There is substantial
evidence that the consultation that was relied on for the Cabinet decision was unlaMul. An oral hearing for the permission application is booked for 23'd April 2013. We highlighted in our letter of 13th December 2012lhatthe planning policy used by LBH&F will also be the subject of a Judicial Review. On 11 October 2012 Judge Philip Sycamore of the High Court of Justice granted us leave for a full hearing, challenging the inappropriate use of a SPD for a scheme of such a vast scale. The Judge observed: "l am satisfied that the threshold for permission is crossed and that this is a case for full consideration at a substantive hearing. The question as to what constitutes a development plan document and the lawfulness of the defendants' master plan for the area in question
is clearly arguable and should be considered at a substantive hearing". The hearing has been listed for three days starting 17 July 2013, and we consider it would be premature for you to grant consent before the decision of the High Court. ln conclusion we consider that it is extraordinary that a development scheme of this scale should be put together by a Council imposing a "top-down" approach to community aspirations. We have set out clearly our desire to achieve residents' ownership and management of these estates, under S34A Housing Act 1985, to provide a strong and community led neighbourhood. We have a diverse but very cohesive community and are keen to implement the principles of the "Big Society" and take responsibility for our homes and neighbourhood. This has been totally ignored by LBH&F and we question how can this be supported by a Government that has so passionately set out its stall to support local communities to determine their own future?
We have requested a meeting with you in previous letters, so that we can explain our position but have thus far had no response to this request. Given the scale of what the
Council is proposing and the enormous disruption to over 2,000 people in our community we once again ask that you give us this opportunity. Yours sincerely
Satly Taylor, Chair West Kensington Estate Tenants & Residents Association Flat7,231 North End Road, W14 gUQ
Association 105 Gibbs Green, W14 gNE Keith Drew, 6 Franklin w14 gUU
Diana Betshaw, Chair Gibbs Green
Dieppe Close Tenants
Ken & Gibbs Green Community Homes Ltd
Cc Mark Prisk MP, Minister for
Housing; CapCo LBHF; Gary Yardley, Executive
Andy Slaughter MP; Derek Myers, Chief
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