On March 12, 2012, residents went to Hammersmith Town Hall to deliver over 650 responses to the Council’s consultation on the future of West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates. Click here to view the West Kensington & Gibbs Green residents associations’ full response to Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s consultation on selling off and demolishing our homes.
Left to Right: Executive Director of Housing and Regeneration, Melbourne Barrett, Shirley Wiggins, Chair of West Ken & Gibbs Green Community Homes and WKGGCH Board member Rita Vlahopoulou.
You can view residents responses here.
LETTER FROM RESIDENTS’ ASSOCIATIONS TO COUNCIL LEADER STEPHEN GREENHALGH
12 March 2012
Dear Councillor Greenhalgh
Response to consultation by Hammersmith & Fulham Council on whether to include the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates in the Earl’s Court redevelopment scheme
Thank you for your letter of 5 March 2012 encouraging us to have our say in the Council’s decision on the future of our estates. We attach 615 responses from residents, living in about half of all the occupied addresses on the estates, who entrusted us to deliver these forms safely to you.
You asked residents “to spend a few moments to write some comments in the boxes … this is the time to say what you really think in the boxes provided”.
538 residents aged four to 92 have written their personal thoughts and feelings in the boxes and/ or have added pages and pictures. These responses supplement the hundreds you have received directly in writing or online.
538 unattributed responses from residents and 20 from neighbours in the wider area with handwriting in the boxes can be viewed here: http://tinyurl.com/7uhhgye
A huge majority of households on the estates who responded to your consultation has voted no to demolition by several factors to one. Indeed, an absolute majority (in excess of 55%, perhaps 60% or more) of all households has voted to save the estates. Please respect this overwhelming democratic vote and accept the final decision of the majority to exclude the estates from the proposed redevelopment.
Many residents have asked questions and made requests of the Council. We expect you to honour your commitment “to personally ensure” that residents’ queries are answered. You, fellow decision-makers and officers must read, and reply to all the responses (including this one), which we would expect you to do anyway before you make any decision on whether to sell off, or grant planning permission to demolish, our homes.
The Council’s feedback form encouraged residents to identify particular equality impacts on them to help it correctly identify the potential impacts of the scheme in its draft Equality Impact Analysis. For this reason, we have ordered the forms according to gender, age and tenure
Residents’ responses show that the loss of well-loved decent homes, the destruction of their familiar environment, and severe disruption to the essential relationships between family members, friends and neighbours, would have a highly negative impact on all protected equality groups:
- Children and young people would be separated from friends, neighbours and family support networks, interfering with their schooling and undermining their confidence;
- Children and their families, including pregnant and young mothers, who are private tenants would be made homeless;
- Disabled people such as those who are blind or have impaired mobility are upset; they would be harmed by removal from familiar environments and comfortable well-adapted homes;
- Vulnerable people and those with mental health challenges are disturbed now by the pressure being exerted from the Council; further pressure could worsen their conditions and symptoms;
- People with dementia, currently being protected by family and neighbours, could suffer fatal consequences from removal;
- Elderly people are deeply worried by the threat of removal from surroundings where they feel safe and secure; they would suffer further deterioration to their mental wellbeing and physical health if they were separated from neighbours they trust;
- Delicate support networks for ethnic minorities would be damaged. Given the obscurity of the Information Pack and other material distributed by the Council, people with good English would be disadvantaged, but people with little or no English would be disadvantaged even more (it would be like translating Double-Dutch into Somali or Polish);
- Loss of gardens would hit the youngest and oldest the hardest. You and the developer may personally enjoy ownership of several properties or tens of acres of land: for many residents, the loss of 10 or 30 square metres of their own outdoor door garden/ yard space would be soul-destroying;
- Loss of off-street parking and garages would sorely harm those, especially the elderly and disabled, who rely on visiting support from family members and other carers.
The thousands of highly negative impacts identified by residents in their responses can only be avoided by excluding the estates from the proposed redevelopment. The Council’s continued prosecution of the scheme is already causing widespread anxiety, stress, depression, anger and defiance.
On humanitarian grounds alone, and considering the sheer number of vulnerable people affected adversely now, the Council should decide immediately to exclude the estates from the redevelopment proposal.
You have asked us to tell you what we really think: We say: No! No! No! Your high-handed approach is oppressive and has angered most of our neighbours. It is no wonder that so many residents have accused you of being heartless.
We attach to this letter our review of, and response to the Council’s consultation process, Information Pack and other documents that you rely on to decide our fate. This proves that there is no evidence or rational basis whatsoever for you deciding to force us out and demolish our homes. Rather, the evidence shows you are just doing this to get rid of us for political purposes (Annex 1 below), to make money for the Council, and to profit your agent of destruction, the developer.
We are more determined and more united than ever to stop demolition. We shall not be moved! With the support of the Prime Minister and the Coalition Government, we shall transfer our estates into the responsible and caring ownership of our community.
Sally Taylor, Chair of West Kensington TRA
Diana Belshaw, Chair of Gibbs Green TRA
Shirley Wiggins, Chair of West Ken & Gibbs Green Community Homes