There was good news for residents of a 750-home estate in west London before Christmas, as they defeated a threat of demolition which they had fought for over ten years.
The West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates were included in a ‘regeneration’ deal between Hammersmith & Fulham council and the developer Capco.
The deal was signed in 2012, as part of the wider redevelopment of Earls Court, despite the opposition of over 80% of households.
Residents of the two estates responded by forming a community-run organisation, West Ken Gibbs Green Community Homes (WKGGCH), and developed an alternative vision for their future: community-ownership.
On 15 November 2019, after much work on the part of residents and supporters, Hammersmith & Fulham agreed to refund the £100 million which the developer paid for the estates, in return for ending the legal agreement for their demolition.
Linda Sanders, Chair of WKGGCH said, “Thank you to so many residents and to so many supporters all over the country who’ve helped us defend our community.
“For eleven long years, we’ve fought for the right to determine our own future. We’ve struggled through thick and thin. We’ve plumbed the depths of despair, and we’ve climbed the heights of hope.
“Above all, we’ve stuck together. United, we’ve proven strong.”
Not stopping there, the community organisation now plans to go for community ownership, using the Right to Transfer, a right tenants on council estates have which allows them to choose together to transfer their homes to a community-owned landlord.
Said Ms Sanders, “It’s the only way to protect ourselves. Never again should we have to fear or fight for our homes.”
“Once we’ve secured our homes into community ownership, it’ll be for us to decide the future of our estates, and it’ll be for us to choose which services we should provide for our community to thrive and prosper.”
An earlier Right to Transfer proposal was blocked by the Government in July but residents are hoping the new circumstances and a change to WKGGCH rules will pave the way to a more favourable outcome.
LTF are advocating the extension of the Right to Transfer to housing association tenants, which would ensure all social housing tenants can exercise self-determination and hold their landlords to account in this way.