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Mayor asked to halt Earls Court housing estate redevelopment

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London Assembly member Jenny Jones has called on Boris Johnson to save two housing estates threatened with demolition by 28 hectare plans to redevelop Earls Court in London

Masterplanned by Terry Farrell + Partners, the 7,500 homes scheme involves the demolition of the two Earls Court exhibition centres, plus a London Underground depot and two housing estates.

Jones, who represents the Green party, said she intends to write to the developer and to conservative Mayor Boris Johnson and the conservative leaders of Hammersmith and Fulham Council asking them to drop the Gibbs Green and West Kensington estates from the planning application.

Under the scheme, residents from the estates – which are owned by Hammersmith and Fulham Council – will be re-housed in a John McAslan + Partners scheme on nearby Seagrave Road.

Jones said: ‘This should be a flagship co-operative housing project, not a target for the wrecking ball.

‘Razing estates, breaking up communities and forcing people into tower blocks is socially destructive and hugely environmentally wasteful.

‘I will be writing to the Mayor, the developers and the leader of the council to urge them to save the estates from demolition and to transfer them into community ownership.’

In response a Hammersmith and Fulham Council spokesperson said: ‘There is real support for the scheme in the estates. More than 60 residents are actively working with the council to help shape proposals for new homes.

‘Residents on the estates themselves have negotiated a set of legally binding guarantees which ensure they will get brand new homes at the same rent if development goes ahead. The proposals will build 1,500 much needed new affordable homes and provide thousands of new jobs, new education and health facilities and transport links.’

In January, a residents’ group launched a bid to save the estates by transfering their ownership from the council to a housing association.

A spokesperson for developer Capital & Counties (Capco) said: ‘We believe the Earls Court Masterplan will deliver enormous benefits, both for the local community and for London as a whole.

‘Regarding the question of the potential inclusion of the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates this is a decision for the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, rather than for Capco.

‘For our part, we see considerable evidence of support for the development proposals from estates residents, every single one of whom has been guaranteed by the Council a new home within the development area.’

Practices working on the Earls Court project include Allies & Morrison, Chris Dyson, Benoy, Higgs Young, KPF, MAKE, John McAslan + Partners, Patel Taylor, Paul Davies and Studio Egret West.

The project aims to deliver 7,500 new homes with 9.5 hectares of ‘public open space’. The scheme will also include over 185,000m² of office and retail space.

An outline planning application is expected to be submitted this summer with the potential for a start on site in the autumn of 2012.

Earls Court will host the Olympic Volleyball tournament in 2012.

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