Council Approves Plans for 800 New Homes in Seagrave Road

Proposed development part of controversial plan for Earls Court

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Hammersmith and Fulham Council has given the go ahead to plans for hundreds of new homes to be built in Seagrave Road, on a site currently used as a car park.

The council’s planning committee approved the bid by EC Properties to build 808 homes on the North Fulham site on February 16, subject to a satisfactory s106 agreement being signed and approval by the Mayor of London.

The council says these plans could provide the first phase of new homes for people currently living on West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates, if the council decides to enter into a Conditional Land Sale Agreement (CLSA) for the estates with EC Properties.

Two hundred of the 808 homes are earmarked for estate residents, if the CLSA is agreed.

The homes form part of a wider plan by EC Properties to transform the area around Earls Court, including the estates, potentially building 7,500 new homes and creating 12,000 new jobs. Detail of the plans can be seen at the website, My Earls Court.

This plan however is controversial, with residents belonging to the West Kensington and Gibbs Green Tenants and Residents Association issuing a detailed response saying it is "fundamentally flawed".

Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter has also slammed the plans in his latest newsletter, calling them a "sleazy deal" and predicting: "It can only a matter of time before the whole scheme collapses."

His comments follows claims by estate resident Richard Osband that details of the deal had been kept hidden from local residents, and there were no guarantees that developers, currently a loss making company, would be able to afford to complete the project.

However, a spokesman for H & F Council responded, saying it would only enter a conditional land sale agreement with a property company if it was "completely confident" of its ability to deliver the promised new homes, jobs and neighbourhood improvements.

Following approval of the Seagrave Road plans, the council now says:

In considering whether or not to include the estates in the wider plans, the council and residents must weigh up the benefits regeneration could bring, including new homes, new community facilities and job opportunities, against the disruption that major development inevitably causes. The CLSA includes legally binding tenant and leaseholder/freeholder offers, the terms of these offers go beyond what has been offered by other regeneration schemes.

For secure council tenants living on the estates:
* They would only have to move once their new home is ready.
* They would be receive home loss compensation, currently £4,700 plus all reasonable moving costs, including removals, new carpets and curtains, disconnection of appliances and services, re-routing of mail.
* People would be offered a new home that is right for them and their family. This means that if people are currently deemed to be overcrowded they would get a bigger home.

For resident leaseholders/freeholders:
* They would receive the full market value of their home, plus an extra 10% in compensation. The current market value would be independently assessed.
* If they wanted to buy a new home in the development they would receive a 10% discount on the market value of their new home.
* They would not be expected to extend their mortgage to buy another home in the development if it is more expensive. They can put their compensation towards the new home and any equity gap would be held on their behalf.

Plans for wider redevelopment
If the wider proposal go ahead, the development would include the creation of what are described as "four urban villages" which includes a new North End, with the market at the heart of the proposals, a new High Street which includes shops, bars and restaurants; a West Brompton village, which is quieter and more residential and Earls Court, which would feature a new Exhibition Square.

It would also deliver:
* 7,500 new homes (including 808 on the Seagrave Road site), of which 1,300 would be affordable homes and 6,200 private.
* A new high street with shops, cultural and community facilities
* A new primary school with nursery and day-care facilities
* A new integrated health hub offering a range of primary health care
* Playgrounds and facilities for children of all ages
Culture and Leisure:
* A new community and cultural venue dedicated to the arts, community learning and entertainment
* New sports and leisure facilities
Transfer and Traffic:
* A new high street designed for pedestrians, cyclists and cars which links North End Road to Warwick Road
* A new, north-south thoroughfare called the Broadway designed for pedestrians, cyclists and cars which link Cromwell Road to Lillie Road
* Improvements to Earl’s Court, West Brompton and West Kensington stations New bus routes and new upgraded bus stops
* Electric car clubs and a series of charging points

The Conditional Lane Sale Agreement
The CLSA includes the following conditions which seeks to protect the interests of residents:
* The developer must build the new homes before demolishing existing properties on the estate. Only then will the land be passed to the developer. This is a crucial part of the 'move only when your new home is ready' condition.
* The council can insist on revisions to further phases of building work if the developer’s plans are considered too disruptive for people living on the estate.
* The council is requiring a degree of 'upfront' payment from the potential developer, EC Properties. This gives the developer the incentive to get on with work as quickly as possible.
* Overall, EC Properties would pay the council around £100million for the land. The council is requiring a degree of 'upfront' payment. This gives the developer the incentive to get on with work as quickly as possible.
* The bulk of the £100million would be available to reinvest in the borough’s housing stock.

A consultation on the CLSA is open until March 12 and local residents are invited to take part by going online.

February 17, 2012