No evidence found that council offered priority housing to complicit residents
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Communities, Development
Nearly 70% of residents say ‘no’ to Earls Court estates demolition
An independent investigation has found no evidence to back up allegations that Hammersmith & Fulham Council offered priority housing to residents in return for support for the Earls Court regeneration scheme.
A claim was made last September that the council had drawn up a so-called 'early movers' or 'VIP' list containing the names of residents of the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates who had been promised new council homes if they signed their support for demolition of the two estates.
The council appointed global finance company Deloittes to investigate the claims.
The firm has now reported back saying there is no evidence of any wrongdoing, concluding: “We have not identified any evidence to support the allegation of the existence on an Early Movers List, VIP List or priority listing by any other name.
“This database is to maintain a record of residents they have spoken with, including any comments and queries raised, together with as much information as possible regarding their current position and future housing needs.”
The council maintained from the outset that during a two-year consultation it had been talking to residents about their housing needs and requirements, and has said that this is "completely normal practice with a scheme of this nature".
Cllr Nicholas Botterill, Leader of H&F Council, said: "The independent investigators found no evidence of any wrong doing by anyone connected with the council and confirmed that these accusations are totally without foundation.
"No homes have been built, let alone been allocated, and nobody has received preferential treatment. As is normal on a regeneration scheme of this size, the council talked to all affected residents about their housing needs and requirements during a two-year consultation. There is absolutely no evidence that anyone was promised anything in return for supporting the regeneration scheme.
"The reality is that if residents are eventually moved it will happen in accordance with a local lettings plan, which will be agreed by a public committee in the normal way, that will take into account the needs and preferences of all residents.
“We can now get on with the important work of ensuring that estate residents, together with those living in the wider area are the major beneficiaries of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to comprehensively regenerate this part of London.”
According to the council, the Earls Court regeneration scheme will create 7,583 homes and up to 9,500 jobs.
As part of the scheme, the council has entered into a Conditional Land Sale Agreement with the developer CapCo to include the two estates in the wider development of the area.
Residents of the two estates have been offered new homes at neighbouring Seagrave Road and a compensation package.