BWTUC welcome the decision by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to reject the Clarion Housing Group’s appeal for planning permission to replace social housing units at the William Sutton Estate in Kensington and Chelsea with units for private use.
The original planning application, which involved the demolition of the estate build in perpetuity for social housing by philanthropist William Sutton with private dwellings for sale was rejected by Kensington and Chelsea Council. Clarion appealed with revised proposals. Clarion had already decanted some of the blocks and claimed that the closed Blocks should not be counted when assessing the appeal. This has now been rejected.
BWTUC supported a GMB submission of an objection to planning application submitted by the Sutton Trust to redevelop the Sutton Estate, on the grounds of this significant loss of Social Housing, a 31.6% reduction in social housing units for the next generation.
Over 100 housing estates across London are threatened with demolition and redevelopment with private dwellings for sale. In July Mayor of London issued new rules requiring ballots of residents on these estates. However, 34 estates were exempted with residents on these estates denied a ballots on the demolition of their estates. There was a protest at City Hall on November 3rd of residents on these estates. BWTUC is supporting these residents in the ongoing campaign.
Spencer Barnshaw, BWTUC Secretary, said:
"BWTUC is very pleased with the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government’s decision to reject the Clarion Group’s appeal for planning permission for proposals that would have led to the loss of nearly one third of the social housing units on the William Sutton Estate in Chelsea. GMB had branded this development a blatant case of asset stripping.
"Clarion must not forget the primary reason of a housing association is to provide low cost housing to those on low incomes or those who need extra support. Nor must it forget that the Sutton Dwellings Trust was founded to provide ‘model low-rented dwellings for occupation by the poor of London and other towns and populous places.
"BWTUC has consistently supported residents fighting for their voices to be heard on proposals for demolition of their estates. We salute the residents of the Sutton Estate in their fight to retain social housing in Chelsea. We are supporters of Demolition Watch London in its campaign for all residents on estates facing demolition to be balloted on redevelopment plans with no loopholes or exceptions. This is the only way to stop asset stripping and the loss of social housing."
Cllr Ian Henderson, Chair of the Chelsea Association of Tenants and Save The Sutton said:
"I think this is a great day for the residents of Kensington and Chelsea and for all the other housing battles that are taking place across the country.
"London needs homes for Londoners, not investment vehicles for international hedge funds.
"Social housing tenants across the UK can take heart from this decision. Just because your landlord says it needs to be knocked down, it isn’t necessarily so.
"We call for a halt to the 10 year managed decline of the estate and for Clarion to meaningfully engage with residents and the council, so we can get people out of temporary accommodation and into a home."