Labour’s Sadiq Khan has joined the list of Mayoral candidates promising to review the Earl’s Court Masterplan if elected, leaving Zac Goldsmith for the Conservatives as the only major candidate yet to clarify his position on the contentious scheme.
A spokesperson for Mr Khan confirmed the following in a statement given to Dave Hill at The Guardian: “Sadiq will review the Earl’s Court Masterplan as he has serious reservations about the overall direction the scheme is taking.”
If it goes ahead in its current form, the Earl’s Court scheme would involve the demolition of 760 homes on the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates.
Prior to this, Mr Khan had criticised Capco’s £12bn Earls Court scheme on Channel 4 News for containing not a single additional unit of social housing amongst the 7,500 new homes to be built, and only 11% additional ‘affordable’ housing.
Keith Drew is a long term resident and the chair of West Ken Gibbs Green Community Homes (WKGGCH), the resident-controlled non-profit Community Land Trust (CLT) which aims to prevent demolition and put the community in charge of building new homes and making improvements to the estates. Said Keith, “This announcement has created a feeling of real hope in what has now been a seven year campaign to stay in the homes that we love.
“The majority of residents have repeatedly said that we are against this demolition – a demolition which is frankly needless as there is nothing wrong with the homes here. We know Zac Goldsmith has said he wouldn’t support regeneration schemes where a majority of residents are against it – a commitment to review the Earls Court Masterplan is his chance to show that he is serious about what he says.”
Sally Taylor, Chair of the West Kensington Estate Tenants & Residents Association, added: “I am beyond thrilled to discover a prospective Mayor has ears that work! Maybe common sense isn’t as rare as the current Mayor has led us to believe. Londoners need to be heard. Thank you Sadiq!”
A petition on Change.org calling on the next Mayor of London to review the Earl’s Court Masterplan currently has over 2,000 signatures and has received public support from Grammy-award winning west London-born singer, Estelle. The petition was started by residents of the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates.
Murvet Zengin, a local beautician and mother of two who is leading the petition online, said, “It is great to know that Sadiq Khan has promised to help us. If demolition happens it would destroy our lives. So many families would have to start again. It takes years to build a community like this. We want to know if Zac Goldsmith will make the same commitment.
“This is a big campaign, it is not something little. A lot of people are involved. A lot of money is involved. It’s not going to be easy. But this news gives us hope. We know other campaigns have won before, like New Era and Walterton and Elgin. We won’t stop working for it until our homes are safe.”
Over the past few months, West Kensington and Gibbs Green residents have been developing an alternative plan to demolition: The People’s Plan. The People’s Plan was informed by over one hundred residents who briefed architects to create a plan for infill development of new social rented housing and estate-wide improvements without the need for demolition.
Geraldine Dening, our lead architect, said: “Lord Heseltine, Chair of the panel set up to look at how to implement the Prime Minister’s initiative for council estates has said that estates regeneration “has to be locally led” and that he wants to “see local communities coming forward with innovative ideas to achieve desirable neighbourhoods that local people can be proud of”. The plans we have worked with residents to develop here achieve precisely that.”