Friday, 03 July 2015

Hammersmith & Fulham wants to stop tenants blocking redevelopment

Council fights transfer

A flagship Conservative council has asked ministers to water down proposals to give tenants the right to take over the ownership of their estates, so that a major redevelopment project can go ahead.

The Communities and Local Government department announced plans to consult on introducing regulations which would force councils to co-operate with tenants’ stock transfer requests earlier this year. The consultation was due in February but has been delayed.

The West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates’ tenants’ and residents’ associations in Hammersmith & Fulham want to take over 750 homes in order to prevent them being demolished as part of the 8,000-home Earls Court regeneration scheme and have submitted a transfer request.

A response to a request from Inside Housing under the Freedom of Information Act revealed Stephen Greenhalgh, council leader at Hammersmith & Fulham, emailed CLG ministers Greg Clark and Grant Shapps in January to ask that tests be applied before tenant-led transfers are approved in regeneration areas.

The email read: ‘We believe it is wrong to allow regulations on stock transfer to apply without these wider benefit tests in these “opportunity areas” as an unintended consequence could be to impede regeneration in those very areas already defined as needing major economic growths, jobs and homes.’

Mr Greenhalgh told Inside Housing that a cost benefit test should be met which would weigh the costs of maintaining the homes against savings to the taxpayer from regeneration.

Jonathan Rosenberg, a housing campaigner who has been helping the tenants, said he was disappointed that the council wanted to ‘restrict what the government has decided should be right for council tenants’.

A CLG spokesperson said existing regulations enable councils to make a case to the secretary of state for communities against a stock transfer proposal.

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