Monday 3 September 2012

Earls Court: A Missed Opportunity

Chelsea fans may be interested in the Cabinet Meeting taking place at LBHF tonight. The sale of the West Ken and Gibbs Green estates is crucial to CapCo's plans to develop Earl.'s Court and produce a healthy wedge of cash for the council. We print below the press release published by residents of those estates and it makes a very serious charge of gerrymandering against the council. It also offers up an interesting challenge to the Prime Minister.

We have little doubt that the council, despite the consultation results, will force through the plan to sell and demolish the estates but it would appear that the whole issue could begin to generate quite a bit of controversy at a local and perhaps national level.  It also puts into context the challenge that Chelsea have been facing with this issue. Not acquiring the shares a year ago was a lost opportunity as CapCo were ready to do business with the club at the expense of the council. A shame. 

Is EC lost as an option should these plans be approved? Well, it isn't going to get any easier, that is for sure.

Here is the full press release:

Prime Minister faces final Big Society test: Will he let his favourite Council bulldoze our community? 
At 7pm on the 3rd and 12th of September 2012, Hammersmith & Fulham Council intends to agree the sale and demolition of our homes against the wishes of the overwhelming majority of residents. 
The Cabinet meeting on 3 September is for the Council to decide as landlord whether to sell the West Kensington & Gibbs Green estates to developer CapCo for demolition as part of the £8 Billion scheme to demolish Earl’s Court. The Planning Applications Committee on 12 September is for the Council to decide as planning authority whether to approve the whole scheme – demolition of the Exhibition Centres, the Lillie Bridge rail depot and West Kensington & Gibbs Green. 
Once it has made its decisions, the Council intends, in March 2013, to apply to the Government for consent to sell off our estates, and our MP, Andy Slaughter, shall insist that the Government reviews any planning permission. We shall lobby the Government to refuse consent for the sale of our homes and to throw out planning permission to demolish our community. We expect the Government to help us implement the Big Society. 
Three times since 2009, we have proved methodically that we are overwhelmingly against demolition and in favour of community control. But the local state rode roughshod over our needs and wishes to impose the very type of speculative property development that ruined the national economy. According to the former Leader Stephen Greenhalgh, who’s now in charge of the Metropolitan Police, the Council’s motivation is to obtain party electoral advantage by driving poor people out of politically marginal areas. 
We championed the Prime Minister’s goal for a more responsible local society, where communities take control of their assets and greater charge of their neighbours’ welfare. We pioneered cross-party localist policy for council estate communities to own their homes, mobilising residents to determine their future so they can contribute socially and economically to national recovery. We stood up for the economic powerhouse of Earl’s Court, a goose that lays golden eggs for this country’s culture and prosperity. 
What will the Government do next year when the Council applies for consent to dispose of our homes? Will the Prime Minister champion his Big Society by refusing the sale and demolition of the People’s Estates? Will he empower us to take charge, or will he impose the politicians and property and financial speculators on us? We don’t want to see him in the driving seat of the bulldozer that destroys our community and removes the last shred of credibility from his most heartfelt belief! 
Sally Taylor and Diana Belshaw, Chairs of the two residents associations, said: 
We remain true to the principles of the Big Society, and we stand firm by our belief that local people should take greater charge of where they live so they can exercise more responsibility for their environment and assume better care of their neighbours. We occupy the ground; these are our homes; and we shall restore ownership to the local community. Politicians and profiteers may come and go, but we the people shall never surrender.


  1. Councillor Mike Adam5 September 2012 at 06:09

    The above posting contains seriously misleading statements regarding the position of Hammersmith & Fulham Council in respect of the Earl's Court redevelopment.

    Sale of the two housing estates would not produce “a healthy wedge of cash for the council” to be used as it pleased. Local government law states that all proceeds of a sale of housing assets must either be used to redevelop new housing or passed on to central government. Surprisingly, your article does not mention that the Council is committed to offering all 760 existing residents of the estates brand new homes on site. Over 7,250 additional housing units will also be created as a result of the redevelopment. This is an absolutely essential and much welcomed feature of the project given that this area of London is suffering from both a desperate housing shortage and a rapid increase in population.

    The Chairs of the estates residents’ associations are very welcome to express their views on this redevelopment but in framing policy, the principal consideration of the local authority is that of regenerating Earl’s Court and its wider surrounding area.

    The Earls’ Court scheme, which promises the creation of over 9,500 permanent new jobs, as well as shops, offices, a new school and healthcare facilities, is a vital part of this Council’s strategy to attract new investment into our Borough, bringing new homes, new jobs and opportunity to all our residents.

  2. Thank you for your comment Cllr Adam. However, we did not say " to spend as you please" and so we are not sure what precisely is misleading about the article. Unless you do not agree that £105 million is a healthy wedge of cash? The rest is quoted from the residents' statements.

    We have previously invited you to contact us because we do indeed have some questions that you may be able to clear up. If you would like to email us at we will put them to you and print your answers in full. We have no doubt that LBHF wish to acquire new homes and inward investment. The critical point is that Chelsea moving to Earls Court would most certainly provide that opportunity - and more. CFC have pointed out in their objection that the scheme falls foul of the London Plan and many Chelsea fans are bewildered by your position on the matter. It is also true to say that residents are bitterly opposed to the plans and that they feel they have been ignored.

    Please do contact us from your email address and we will set some questions. It strikes us that it may be a good opportunity for you to state your case to the many thousands of fans who read this blog.