A GRANDFATHER of two from the West Kensington Estate is taking legal action against Hammersmith and Fulham Council after they made a deal with developers proposing to transform Earls Court and the surrounding areas.
Harold Greatwood, 66, has launched a judicial review challenging an exclusivity agreement made between the council and Capital and Counties Properties PLC (Capco) in July, which would allow the developer a year to negotiate a land contract.
Capco have drawn up plans to create around 7,500 homes and a new 21st century high street where the Earls Court Exhibition Centre currently stands.
These plans would include creating four urban villages over the 77-acre plot, in West Brompton, West Kensington, Earls Court and North End, which could include demolishing up to 750 homes on the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates.
Although promises of a new flat have been made to tenants and leaseholders, some residents have been left distressed by the prospect of losing their homes.
Mr Greatwood has lived in his eighth floor flat since 1990 and is challenging the council's decision to enter the agreement on four grounds; that they failed to consult with residents, that they failed to perform an impact assessment, that they failed to consider alternative proposals for management of the site and that they did not offer a robust procurement process thereby giving Capco a considerable advantage over rival bidders.
Mr Greatwood, said: "I moved into my flat shortly after my mother died in 1990, and it has been my home for over 21 years. I am extremely fond of this flat, it is my home and it has all the attributes for me that people expect of a home. It would be a catastrophic wrench to leave, as if someone was saying 'you've been happy for a while, but you can't be anymore'. I would be devastated if I was forced to move out. I am 66 years old and I understand under current plans the redevelopment will not complete for another 15 to 20 years. It is unimaginable having to move at that age. It takes a long time for me to settle and be happy in a place. I have launched the application so that the developers will withdraw from the arrangement to negotiate the sale of the estate and the neighbouring Gibbs Green Estate."
Campaigners from West Kensington and Gibbs Green would like ownership of the land transferred to a resident-led management organisation so they can block part of the project from going ahead.
By entering into the exclusivity agreement, Capco is required to pay the council £15million. If the two don't come to an agreement, £10million must be repaid to the developers.
However the council has defended the agreement.
A council spokesman said: "H&F Council is continuing to explore with local residents what the potential benefits could be if West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates were included in the planned redevelopment of Earls Court exhibition centres.
"These discussions will continue regardless of any legal challenge around the signing of an exclusivity deal with the owners of Earls Court exhibition centres, EC Properties. The agreement, signed in July, gave the council the time and resources needed to fully investigate the benefits and make sure that residents get the best deal. The council has acted correctly and will be fighting the challenge vigorously. The redevelopment of Earls Court could be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to bring much needed new homes, jobs, schools, parks, health centres and other community facilities to the area. This council will not agree to anything unless, first and foremost, redevelopment benefits people living on the estates, followed by the wider area and then the borough as a whole.”