May 19 2013 Latest news:
Glenn McMahon, Reporter
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
New legislation could transfer control of estates from council to tenant and resident groups
A COUNCIL’S plans to redevelop housing estates in West London could be in jeopardy after the government expressed its intent to allow residents to take over their estates.
Residents on the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates, near Earls Court, have been fighting plans by Hammersmith and Fulham Council to allow a private developer to turn their homes into mixed-use sites for the past 18 months.
But a Department of Communities and Local Government official has now confirmed the government will develop regulations, Section 34 of the Housing Act, to enable tenants to take control of their estates, potentially preventing local authorities from forcing through their own development plans.
Sally Taylor, chair of West Kensington Tenants and Residents Association, said: “The dramatic news that the Coalition Government has decided to implement S34A of the Housing Act 1985, puts residents suddenly in the driving seat.
“By transferring the estates to a mutual resident-controlled association, we will save them from demolition and preserve them to house people in need of affordable rented housing.
“Power and control will pass to the local community and the mixed and diverse population will be protected.”
However H&F Council dispute West Kensington and Gibbs Green TRAs are representative of those living on the estates.
Stephen Greenhalgh, leader of H&F Council, said: “We do not believe that these two TRAs are now representative of residents on the two estates.
“Dozens of tenants and leaseholders have spoken to us and expressed an interest in joining a residents steering group to make sure residents have their views about any future redevelopment plans listened to.”
“That is why we have been working closely with residents, including the former Chairs of both Gibbs Green and West Kensington TRAs, to produce a legally binding set of assurances about the benefits for them should their estates be included in any development.”
But Jonathan Rosenberg, campaign coordinator for the two estates, rubbished suggestions the TRAs were not representative of tenants.
He said: “More than 80 per cent of households signed our petition opposing demolition and demanding self-determination in Autumn 2009.
“When we spoke with around 350 households on the West Ken estate in November last year, as part of our mobilisation for the AGM, we found residents were even more entrenched in their opposition to demolition and determination to take over the estates.”
He also said the former chairs of the TRAs resigned after residents disagreed with their positions on the redevelopment plans.
A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “We propose to consult on this (implementation of S34 of the Housing Act) shortly.
“Under the last government they put forward proposals which would require the local authorities to work with local tenants.
“Grant Shapps (the housing minster) thinks this is a good principle to give tenants a greater say.”