Council tenants seek transfer to avoid demolition
Tenants in west London have asked for ownership of their homes to be transferred away from the council in a bid to save them from demolition.
The tenants’ and residents’ associations of West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates have served notice to quit on Hammersmith & Fulham Council, proposing it should dispose of 750 homes to a resident-controlled association. Failing that, tenants want the estates to be transferred to a registered provider giving them more control over management and maintenance.
Their lawyers have invited communities secretary John Denham to make regulations under Section 34A of the Housing Act 1985 requiring the council to cooperate. These could include requiring Hammersmith & Fulham to provide or finance office accommodation, facilities and training to allow the tenant group to pursue the proposal.
The council is considering a regeneration project for a 70-acre site, including the two estates and Earls Court Exhibition Centre, and has signed a collaboration agreement with Transport for London and private developer Capital & Counties. Eighty per cent of estate residents have signed a petition opposing demolition.
Maureen Day, chair of West Kensington Estate TRA, who has lived in her home for 37 years, said using the legislation was a ‘drastic step’ but the only way residents could see to get any response from the council to their concerns.
‘The council is no longer committed to being our landlord,’ she said. ‘We don’t want anyone else, so we’ll do it ourselves.’
Jonathan Rosenberg, who has been coordinating the tenants, hoped legal action would ‘reduce the stress and anxiety’ residents were feeling.
A council spokesman said the authority was ‘happy to talk’ to tenants while their request was with the secretary of state and had invited the TRAs to a meeting in January. He said the council had been consulting with residents about ways to improve the estates and, as no tenants had raised the issue of transfer of ownership, the notice to quit had come as a ‘surprise’.