Green party candidates have visited an estate earmarked for regeneration to fight on behalf of people living there.
Mayoral candidate Siân Berry was joined by London Assembly candidate for West Central London Jennifer Nadel at Silchester Estate, which is being considered for redevelopment by Kensington and Chelsea Council .
The local authority says it is looking into the regeneration of the North Kensington estate in a bid to improve homes for people living there.
But some residents are against the move, and have been given support by candidates of the Green Party , which opposes all demolitions that do not have the backing of those currently living on the site.
Ms Nadel said during the visit on March 24 that the proposals amounted to “social cleansing”. She said: “Some of the residents we met had lived on the estate for nearly half a century and are deeply distressed and angered at the prospective loss of their homes and community.
In January the council held a drop-in session at nearby Latymer Community Church in Bramley Road, to allow people to view their proposals and meet architects Porphyrios Associates. At the time it said there were no designs to view but any regeneration project would create better homes for existing and future residents, more affordable housing and an improved built environment.
Opposition to 'the nuclear option'
According to the Silchester Estate website, the council is examining a range of options, ranging from doing nothing to redeveloping all the accommodation.
Jo Poole, secretary of the Silchester Residents Association, believes the council’s preferred option is to raze and rebuild - an option the community has dubbed ‘the nuclear option’.
She is calling for a more thoughtful and sympathetic redevelopment: “There are around 700 homes here, some in 20 storey tower blocks and some in mews houses and cottages. But the preferred plan is to completely demolish everything and rebuild regardless of what it is. It’s a massive proposal that affects so many people in so many ways.”
She wants surveyors and architects to look at the buildings, many of which do not need replacing, and for there to be a gradual change.
She continued: “We don’t support the plan to demolish it all. We’re calling that the nuclear option. We’re really concerned that this long standing community will disperse and go. There are a lot of people living here in their 70s or so, and they’re going to have to move somewhere else or spend the rest of their days in a building site. We want something that retains the community spirit.”
Ms Nadal added: “This is a happy, flourishing estate and it is completely wrong to demolish it. The council have failed to offer residents the only option they favour - which is a gradual and respectful regeneration. Instead they face their homes and community being bulldozed. The schemes the council are proposing amount to an attempt to socially cleanse the area and the Green Party wholly opposes them.”
A K&C spokesman said: “We have made it clear to all secure tenants that if a redevelopment did take place they would have the right to return to a home in the same area, in a property on the same terms and conditions, if they wish. We are at a very early stage in looking at what could be done to improve the Silchester estate.
“Our main objectives in any redevelopment are to build more affordable housing and to make our Council housing as good as possible for current and future tenants. We would only consider going ahead with a redevelopment if we could meet these objectives and not add extra cost to council taxpayers.”