Thousands of residents on two Fulham estates are celebrating after the long-planned
demolition of their homes was officially cancelled, writes Owen Sheppard, Local
Families on the West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates had waited for more than a decade for the news that came last week.
Sally Taylor, 58, said she was “in shell shock” and “beyond ecstatic” at the news.
The former nurse, who co-chairs the West Ken Gibbs Green Residents’ Association, said: “People were absolutely cheering last night, it felt like New Year’s Eve.
“Even the kids were going ‘is it true that we’re really safe?’ You don’t appreciate that the children are really affected by this, even if they don’t say it.
“And some of them are 11 years old, so have experienced this their whole lives.
“We’re all in complete shell shock and are beyond ecstatic. It hasn’t really sunk in yet.”
Mrs Taylor, a leaseholder who has lived in Fulham for 30 years, said: “Everyone’s life has been held up for 11 years.
“Basically we had one council that sold us, and this one has saved us. And I think it’s because there’s been a real change of conscience around social housing, especially after Grenfell.”
The breakthrough came after the estates along North End Road — home to more than 2,000 people in 760 flats and terraced homes — were bought by Delancey from Capital and Counties (Capco) on November 15.
Delancey had agreed to then sell the land back to Hammersmith and Fulham council by the end of the month.
The landmark decision ends one of London’s most controversial and long-running regeneration disputes in recent history.
The leader of Hammersmith council, Councillor Stephen Cowan, said: “On Friday, we exchanged contracts with Delancey which is the first step to bringing about the safe
return of all the land sold to Capco, which includes the two estates.
In 10 working days’ time, when all parties complete, this saga will be brought to an end and our residents’ homes will be safe.”
Andy Slaughter, the Labour parliamentary candidate for Hammersmith, said on Twitter: “Today a wrong has been righted.
Residents can decide their futures and repairs can start. But someone must be held to account for lives put on hold and public money wasted.”
The estates formed part of the so-called Earl’s Court Masterplan, a 77-acre piece of land that was sold to Capco by the then Conservative-led council in 2012, for £105million.
It is thought the local authority is paying the same kind of sum to reacquire it.
Stretching from North End Road to Earl’s Court Tube station, and the since-
demolished Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre, Capco originally planned to build 7,500 homes across the Masterplan area.
But since then, Capco has announced it is selling all its interests in the Earl’s Court scheme to Delancey.
Before this was announced the council was in a separate battle to acquire this land,
including sections that sit inside the borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and was preparing a compulsory purchase order (CPO).
A council report last month estimated the CPO action would have cost the council
It then planned to develop its own housing scheme, to a potential cost of £1.5billion.