BORIS Johnson has paved the way for the first stage of the Earls Court development by giving his blessing to plans to build 800 new homes on the site of a car park in Seagrave Road.
The Mayor looked at the plans and concluded he was 'content' to let Hammersmith and Fulham Council planners to decide on the application without his intervention.
Opponents to the overall Earls Court scheme, which would see the creation of four Sir Terry Farrell-designed 'urban villages of new homes and amenities, fear the Seagrave Road decision paves the way for the rest of the scheme to get the green light.
And their fears were heightened during an extraordinary council meeting last week when leader Stephen Greenhalgh confirmed the authority's belief that the threatened Gibbs Green and West Kensington Estates should be bulldozed to make way for the development. Two-hundred Seagrave Road homes have been earmarked for residents displaced by the demolition.
Mr Greenhalgh has denied the authority is 'in the pockets of developers' and rejected accusations it had 'taken favours' from developers Capco, from which its stands to make £100m if it agrees to sell it land - including the estates - to allow the project to go ahead in full. It could sign a land sale contract as early as next month, which would seal the threatened homes' fate.
Mr Greenhalgh said at the meeting: "I resent this implication there's an improper relationship (with Capco). I'm standing down this year. I don't work hard only to go and take back-handers from anyone, and it's shameful you're saying this is corrupt in any way. The money (from developers) will be ploughed back into the community."
Opposition leader Stephen Cowan failed to win a vote asking for estate residents to be offered a referendum on their future but he vowed to continue 'fighting tooth and nail' to stop the homes being knocked down.
Labour councillor PJ Murphy said the Conservative leader was 'deaf to logic, reason and electors', but Mr Greenhalgh, reiterating that all residents would get new homes in the area if they are moved, insisted he only has residents' interests at heart. He said including the estates in the plan was 'tough', but said the vision for growth was 'compelling' and 'uplifting'.
"We believe in growth and we think growth in Earls Court can help more people out of poverty," he said. "The developments along the west London line at Fulham Riverside, White City, Park Royal and Earls Court can create 20,000 new homes and 38,000 jobs. We have secured the best deal for any estate in London and I'm proud of that."
He added estate freeholders would receive the market value of their home plus 10 per cent compensation and a 10 per cent discount on their new property if they buy into the development, while council tenants would get £4,700 compensation, new household goods and the opportunity to retain current neighbours.