Saturday, 20 December 2014

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.

Readers' comments (14)

  • Chris Webb

    Tory Councillors appealing to the Minister to block Tenant Choice!

    So localism does not mean local people's will being applied; and it also means that locally elected Councillors need to beg the leave of the Minister to make a decision for them. Even Stalinism appears to be a more locally relevent democracy than Cameronism it would seem! At least under Stalin the local committees had the freedom to get on an implement the central directions.

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  • Bet we all know which way Wreckless Eric will swing on this....

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  • How typical of a local authority to block attempts by residents to take control of their own fate. Usually councils cant wait to offload their housing on highly questionable RSL's / Housing Associations masquerading as charities rather than what many are in fact simply big building and property owning conglomerates, poorly managed and answerable to no one especially the tenants themselves.

    I note the CLG allows Councils in this case to appeal the transfer but denies residents the same right when stock transfers are proposed by local authorities.

    Good luck to the residents of the Gibbs Green estate in West Kensington as there can only be one real residents involvement and empowerment and that, is to let them set up their own Management companies to run their estates and provide the services they want and not what others deem to think is needed.

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  • Oh how I wish I was shocked at this latest tactic! Demolishing perfectily decent homes and a close knit community to boot. Big society? Should read...big society brackets - small print - but not for people like us. This is an attempt at blatant discrimination and is apalling to decent people with a social conscience. We will resolutely continue to fight. These estates should be celebrated - lots of trees, space, clean, friendly. Is there anything this council wouldn't sell? Holding on tight to my kidneys!

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  • Ivana Hart

    "Opportunity areas"? Oh dear. Sounds like one of Nicola Thick-of-It Murray's Fourth Sector Pathfinders. I thought these grandiose up-their-own-a**e schemes went out with NuLab. The normally sensible Stephen Greenhalgh has seemingly been supping the council officer's kool aid on this one. Doubtless there are many RTB leaseholders on the estate who wouldn't have a snowballs chance in hell of getting a similar property in the same area for what they would be likely to get from H&F. Sounds like a repeat of the Homes Before Roads debacle. Time for Greenhalgh to stop listening to the twaddle spouted by Regen types and do something genuinely conservative. Like conserving the existing community. Homes Before Opportunity Areas anyone?

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  • Only One

    Wow, everyone is jumping on the 'let the people chose what the people want' bandwagon. All very admirable for the PC brigade, but have any of you here seen the estate in question? Have you seen the condition of the properties? Are you aware of the cost needed to bring the properties up to modern day standards? Thought not, so please go and look at the properties concerned before condemning more tax payers money to the never ending bottomless bucket that is improvement and cyclical maintenance.

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  • Chris Webb

    Only One - I do not need to go there.

    The tenants who live there know what the homes look like, and in what state of maintenance they are in. They also know that they will, at best, get only 1 in 3 homes replaced for their use, with the remainder of tenants having to be housed elsewhere as part of the redevelopment to make way for 'exclusive' city apartments for the 'more successful' city worker.

    Why do you determine as PC trusting the local people to decide what is in their local interest, and what is best to be provided in their location. They argue for local control and management - they have the right to be heard. Indeed, they have the right to manage, unless the Central Government Dictates otherwise, of course!

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  • i live here. The properties are 40 and 50 years old, built with generous 60's housing regs So `only one' I think you would be pleasantly suprised. 50% of Gibbs green is leaseholder and there are freeholders and leaseholders on West Ken. This is a successful mixed community. So yes! Do come and look around! In the last 6 months; we have had internal painting; new windows, tv aerials etc; All this money spent on preparing us for demolition doesn't add up either! Of course we want to take it over under section 34A - why shouldn't we want to protect our homes that we have all invested so much in? These realy are very pleasant estates. Our homes are well cared for - we are quite proud. We have well kept playgrounds and basketball pitch that are used all the time. If this wasn't next to Earls Court we would be left alone. ps. We have been brought up to modern standards under the decent homes programme. We do have the right to be heard - um, will be listened to though?

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  • Chris Webb

    All strength to your elbow A Passfield - don't let the government apologists get you down, now tell you that you do not know what you are talking about.

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  • This should be a decision made by the tenants and homeowners - no one else.

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