Monday 3 February 2014

Not much happening at EC - and where is the cultural and leisure provision?

The newsletter from the residents of Gibbs Green and West Ken estates arrived recently and they are raising questions about the progress of the demolition and the deep uncertainty around their future homes. The agreement for the service charge level for affordable housing is eye watering. Can council tenants afford £3,000 per annum on top of their rents? They also include some interesting figures relating to the paucity of cultural and leisure space in the replacement development for the exhibition centres, demanded by Boris in his London Plan. Basically, there is none. You will recall that in their submission to the planning application for the Seagrave Road development, CFC guaranteed new exhibition space as part of a stadium build, something the exhibition industry is desperately seeking.

One wonders if the inactivity is related to the nervousness around the elections in May?

The below are direct quotes from the newsletter


Exhibition Centre replacement is just luxury flats

Not one single affordable home will be provided in the replacement development planned for the Exhibition Centres. The total floor space the developer wants to build is 290,170 square metres. Nearly all of this space will be flats with 9,591 square metres of shops. The 1,314 new homes in 15 massive apartment blocks will all be sold at market prices, way beyond what people in housing need can afford.

The floor space devoted to education, health, community, culture and leisure will be 324 square metres. That's just 0.1% of the replacement for both Exhibition Centres – a thousandth of the development space – about the size of one luxury penthouse. 

How much would it cost to live in the new homes?

The council has not said what the rents, service charge, council tax, and car parking charge will be for the new (residents of WK and GG -ed.) homes. Is this because the cost of living in a new home will be much higher than now?

We have discovered that the service charge alone could be £48 a week for a 1 bed, £58 for a 2 bed and £68 for a 3 bed. The Seagrave Road planning agreement states:

"For LBHF Tenants the Affordable Housing Service Charge shall be set at an average of £3,000 per Affordable Housing Unit per annum within the range depending on the type of Affordable Housing Unit from £2,500 to £3,500 per annum and be Index Linked to the Index of Retail Prices."

These charges will be on top of the rent. They have probably increased already to take account of inflation. How much will they be two or three years from now? Nor do we know what the rents, council tax and car parking charges will be. If the Council talks to you about moving, make sure you ask: How much will it cost to live in the new home?

When might the new homes be built?

There is no certainty that the redevelopment will proceed.

We have heard nothing from the Council for several months about the proposals for the first phase of demolition on the estates, which include cutting through the Aisgill Avenue terraces. Nor has the final version of the Tenants Contract been published.

Nothing is happening at Seagrave Road, where the first 200 replacement homes are supposed to be built. The car park continues to operate and there is no sign of any construction work. Seagrave Road is owned half each by Capco and the Kwok family, who own Sun Hung Kai, Hong Kong's largest property developer.

Kwok brothers Raymond and Thomas go on trial for bribery and corruption before Hong Kong's High Court in May. One of the prosecution Barristers said: "the whole world would be watching the trial as it involves a former senior government officer and a major property developer". 

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