Saturday, 29 April 2017

Tenant claims council failed to consult residents on Earls Court scheme

Tenant takes council to court over demolition plan

A tenant is taking Hammersmith & Fulham Council to court over its decision to sign an exclusivity deal with a developer as part of plans to knock down two estates.

The flagship Conservative council signed a deal in July with EC Properties, a subsidiary of Capital and Counties (see timeline). The agreement means the council will work with the developer on a land deal to include the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates, in west London, in the £8 billion, 7,500 home Earls Court regeneration scheme.

Harold Greatwood, a resident on the West Kensington estate, backed by the residents’ associations, has lodged a claim for a judicial review of the council’s decision with the High Court.

Under the arrangement EC Properties has paid the council £15 million. Of this, £10 million is refundable if there is no agreement to sell the land within 12 months - so the council will be keen to avoid any legal holdups.

The plans are controversial as the West Kensington and Gibbs Green tenants’ and residents’ associations want to use proposed new regulations to have the estates transferred to a tenant-led organisation.

Mr Greatwood’s claim challenges the council’s decision on four grounds: failure to consult residents in breach of statutory obligations, failure to perform an equalities impact assessment, failure to consider other options for the management of the estates (including the residents’ associations proposal), and breach of procurement and best value rules.

The claim says the deal creates a financial disincentive for the council to do anything other than grant EC Properties the option to buy the land.

A spokesperson for EC Properties said the claim will not affect planning applications submitted.

Hammersmith & Fulham intends to fight these challenges. A council spokesperson said: ‘The agreement gave the council the time and resources to fully investigate the benefits and make sure residents get the best deal. The council has acted correctly and will be fighting the challenge vigorously.’

Mr Greatwood said: ‘I hope the court will order the defendant to withdraw from the exclusivity agreement and to listen to and to negotiate with the residents’ associations’ offer.’

An administrative court will decide in the next few weeks whether Mr Greatwood’s claim can proceed.

Timeline: Earls Court redevelopment programme

January 7
Inside Housing reveals the government will consult on new regulations which would force councils to co-operate with tenant-led stock transfer requests

March 3
Capital and Counties warns regulations could force the Hammersmith & Fulham Council out of the Earls Court project

May 6
Inside Housing reveals Hammersmith & Fulham council leader Stephen Greenhalgh asked environment minister Greg Clark and housing minister Grant Shapps to water down the tenant-led transfer regulations

June 3
Contracts promising tenants compensation and a new home if they give up their homes are sent out by a council-backed steering group

July 18
The council agrees to enter into an exclusivity deal with EC Properties for the sale of the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estate sites

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