Left to Right: Party Leader Natalie Bennett, Baroness Jenny Jones and Sian Berry in the West Kensington Estate Tenants Hall
On Wednesday 2 September, the Green Party announced its selection of candidates to stand for the London Assembly and to run for the Mayoral election in 2016. Baroness Jenny Jones explained that the Green Party had chosen to make this announcement from the West Kensington Tenants Hall so as to show solidarity with the residents of West Kensington and Gibbs Green in their fight to save their homes from demolition. Jenny reminded everyone that the Green Party London Assembly Members had consistently questioned Mayor Boris Johnson about, and had done all they could to oppose the Earl’s Court redevelopment.
It was then announced that Sian Berry had been selected by Green Party Members to be their London Mayoral candidate. In her acceptance speech, Sian said:
“Greens want London to be a community again – a place where anyone can come and live, work, play, and feel at home. A community where the people who live in an area get to decide what happens when an estate needs a revamp or a brownfield site needs developing. And get to decide what happens based on the needs of the community – not the need for the biggest property companies in the land to make the biggest profits they can.
The chance we have to create a different kind of life for Londoners is captured perfectly by what is happening here on the West Kensington Estate. The residents who live here don’t want to see it bulldozed and turned into a new private development. They want to remain in their homes surrounded by the community they love, and feel as though they have ownership over their own future.
And I am pledging today to listen to them, and that, if elected as Mayor I will block the Earls Court Regeneration Scheme, and support the residents in their bid to take over their homes and take the lead on the regeneration of the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates.
This will be the first of many schemes like this, because the solution they have proposed is the inspiration for a new policy we are announcing today too.
In City Hall, we would put resources and staff into a new Community Homes Unit to support community-led housing schemes, including and especially in estate regeneration.
- The unit would provide expertise and grants to get involved in planning at an early stage and develop viable proposals.
- It would help residents fighting their council to set-up their own community homes body and take ownership of their estate through a ‘Right to Transfer’ notice.
- It would help them clear the legal hurdles needed to get these notices approved by the council or Secretary of State.
- And it would help residents all over London develop their own masterplans for the kind of refurbishment and redevelopment they want for the areas they call their homes.
Like the West Kensington residents have done, we have based this on a successful model in Cornwall, where 13 community-led housing schemes (in community land trusts) have been finished since 2009. London needs the support this unit would provide because the fight being faced by residents here at West Ken is not an isolated one.
It isn’t the whole solution – our housing problems need more resources for social housing, more public land dedicated to community homes, and rights and costs for private renters need action too.
But our Community Homes Unit is a positive, affordable step that will help. It will act to help stop the need everyone has to put a decent roof over their heads from being exploited, and help our citizens find new ways of making London truly affordable again.”