Sunday, 30 April 2017

London mayor approves Earls Court plans

The mayor of London has approved controversial plans for an £8 billion redevelopment in Earls Court and West Kensington that will see 7,583 new homes built.

Boris Johnson said he was ‘acutely aware of the concerns [of] some residents affected’ but believed the plans for the 32-hectare site would ‘provide a massive boost’ to the capital. Twenty per cent of the homes will be affordable and 10 per cent will be replacement homes.

‘It is a landmark project that will deliver much needed jobs, new homes and improved infrastructure and will make this strategically important part of the capital an even better to place to live, work and visit,’ Mr Johnson said.

He added: ‘Having weighed up all of the considerations I’m of the firm view that this is a project that will deliver huge benefits to the area and beyond for years to come.’

Residents on the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates, which will be knocked down as part of the project, have been bitterly fighting the plans. Tenants have raised a series of legal challenges against the regeneration in the courts.

In May, Scotland Yard confirmed it would not investigate claims Hammersmith & Fulham Council officers broke the law offering tenants priority for homes if they supported the regeneration scheme.

Campaigner Jonathan Rosenberg said: ‘The people have made their decision – they’re not moving and will continue to oppose the scheme’. He added that ‘nobody is surprised’ that the mayor approved the plans after ‘a series of decisions from authorities where they have ignored the needs of the tenants’.

Mr Rosenberg also believed a lack of alternative homes meant the councils had nowhere to rehouse people. ‘[So] you could say this is the beginning rather than the end,’ he said.

The mayor first rejected initial plans handed to him in December 2011 because they did not comply with his London Plan. The issues were addressed, and Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham councils approved the developer’s applications last year.

Mr Johnson gave his consent today for the councils’ approval of the plans from developer EC Properties – a wholly owned subsidiary of Capital Counties Properties - to stand. Hammersmith & Fulham says the package will include £490 million of community improvements.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council leader Nicholas Botterill said: ‘The redevelopment of Earls Court is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for the local residents to benefit from a multi-billion pound investment in their own neighbourhood.

‘Earls Court has the potential to be as important for West London as the Olympics were for east London.’

As part of the scheme, the council has entered into a conditional land sale agreement with EC Properties to include the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates in the wider development of the area. The residents will be informed this week when they are likely to move into new housing.

The construction period is expected to last 10 years. Earls Court exhibition centre will also be demolished as part of the plans, which are expected to generate 36,000 jobs in construction and 9,000 to 10,000 permanent jobs in the longer term.

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