Pensioners from the West Kensington Estate have written to David Cameron asking him to intervene to stop the demolition of their homes. Signed by a dozen residents in their 70s and 80s and one over 90, the letter was delivered to Downing Street on 20 May by one of the signatories, Derek Dyball, accompanied by his grandson, to represent their neighbours not well or strong enough to travel, by MP Andy Slaughter, and by fellow residents and supporters.
The West Kensington & Gibbs Green estates contain 760 homes that are structurally sound and meet decent homes standards. It houses a settled, proud and diverse community of some 2,000 people. Despite repeated proof that 80% of residents oppose demolition, Hammersmith & Fulham Council has ignored their views and incorporated the estates into the Earl’s Court redevelopment.
This £8 billion scheme, the largest of its kind in Europe, would destroy the estates, the Earl’s Court Exhibition Centres and Transport for London’s main engineering depot at Lillie Bridge. The developer has been granted planning permission to build over 7,500 homes in blocks up to 22 storeys high. 80% would be for market sale with prices for 1 bedroom flats starting at £600,000.
In their letter to the Prime Minister, the senior residents explain:
“Our daily thoughts now begin with the danger we fear of demolition and of being forced out. Our concerns revolve around whether we will survive the upheaval. We would not be able to cope either with moving or living somewhere else away from familiar surroundings, neighbours and friends. In our minds, what we face is not ‘regeneration’, but destruction, which is being imposed on us against our wishes.”
This week marks the 43rd year since most of the signatories moved into their newly built homes in Aisgill Avenue. This makes the developer’s proposal for the first phase of demolition – cutting through the middle of the terraces on Aisgill Avenue – especially painful. “For those of us left behind, disruption, dust and demoralisation is dreaded. Why is there no consideration for us? For our health and well-being?”
“We appeal to you to intervene to stop the Council forcing us to move against our will. We have made our views known to the Council. Despite the harm it will cause to us as elderly residents, they are pushing on regardless. Will you stand up for us? Will you make the Council reconsider decisions that destroy all that we have?”
The letter ends with an invitation for the Prime Minister to visit the senior residents in their homes.
Local MP, Andy Slaughter said: “This is a heartrending plea from elderly constituents of mine who have every right to be left in peace. I hope the Prime Minister will be moved by their plight and step in to help. At the very least he should visit them to see the situation for himself.”