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London borough to buy back council estates

The London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham is to buy back two housing estates from developers, which had been facing demolition.

The council will take back control of the West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates, which had originally been sold off under a previous administration in 2012 to developers Capital and Counties Properties (Capco).

The estates were part of a larger redevelopment project, which covered a large part of Earls Court.

But last week Capco announced it had sold most of its interests in Earls Court to another developer, APG and Delancey for £425 million.

The leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, Cllr Stephen Cowan then reached an agreement with Delancey to take back the estates in exchange for £89.6m – the sum of the original £105m deal so far paid by Capco – once the deal between the property firms is completed.

‘The decisions are required to terminate the Conditional Land Sale Agreement (CLSA), which will stop the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates from being redeveloped as part of an existing masterplan,’ a cabinet report states.

‘The two land parcels will be returned to council ownership. If the decisions are implemented this will provide certainty to the residents within the estates that their homes will not be developed.’

The Labour parliamentary candidate for Hammersmith, Andy Slaughter, said on Twitter ‘a wrong has been righted’.

‘I was first elected to represent West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates in 1986,’ said Mr Slaughter. ‘These are good quality low and medium-rise council homes, many of which are now owned freehold and leasehold or by housing associations. There are 750 homes in all, housing about 2000 people.

‘This is a typical West London community. Hard-working, diverse & open-minded, but also with a lot of families overcrowded or struggling to make ends meet. It’s a nice place to live.

‘In 2007, when the Tories won control of the council after 20 years, they set about reducing the amount of social housing in Hammersmith & Fulham – that’s right, reducing.

‘West Kensington and Gibbs Green became a prime target. The Tories did a dodgy deal with Capco, the owner of Covent Garden, to sell the estates with the people in them,’ added Mr Slaughter.

‘The residents can decide their own future and much needed improvement and repair works can get underway.’

Photo Credit – 3844328 (Pixabay)

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