Protests over demolition of Ebury Bridge estate
New proposals put forward after council blew millions on botched scheme
06 July, 2018 — By Tom Foot
A banner from an earlier protest
THE demolition of one of Westminster’s largest housing estates is due to be rubber-stamped next week, but tenants are not going down without a fight.
Plans to press ahead with the levelling of 336 flats on the Ebury Bridge estate, Pimlico, are expected to be nodded through by the council’s cabinet on Monday.
It follows the spectacular collapse of an earlier scheme that saw the council blow almost £30mil- lion and has left more than 100 homes empty for over a year.
Despite not being allowed to speak, an Ebury resident group is planning to attend the public meeting in the Strand and make their feelings known to councillors.
A spokesperson from the CommUNITY campaign group, who did not want to be named, said: “We have had all this uncertainty going on for years and now they want to demolish the whole thing. They say everyone is being given the right to return, but realistically will they? Right now every- one’s feeling consulted-out. There’s a great apathy, a great feeling of hopelessness. But we are gearing up for a protest.”
Westminster Council’s report says it had run a “transparent process that has fully engaged with residents”.
Full details of the demolition will be debated at a later stage by the planning committee.
Following a consulta- tion, the report to cabinet recommends “scenario 7” that would see the entire estate knocked down and replaced with 750 new homes. Of these, 198 council homes would be replaced. A further 144 “affordable” – of these 87 would be for rent, 57 for “intermediate” – would be built on the site. The rest would be for sale on the private market.
In 2013 Ebury Bridge residents agreed on a renewal scheme for the estate with a mixture of new-build and refurbishment of existing homes. The idea was that Rye, Victoria, Bucknill, Westbourne and Doneraile blocks would to be retained while others would be demolished and replaced.
But last summer, the council announced that it could find no developer willing to take on its scheme and that it was no longer “commercially viable”.
According to the Labour Party, more than £29mil- lion was spent as part on the original scheme before it was scrapped.
More than 100 of the homes on the estate are empty after families were moved out to make way for redevelopment that never happened, and remain boarded up. Unusually for Westminster, the council is now proposing to act as developer and fund the renovation from its own housing revenue account.
The report to cabinet said: “This requires a significant capital outlay as the Housing Revenue Account must incur the build cost. The advantages are that the HRA would then receive the full value of any receipts for market sale although it would be taking on this additional risk compared to a developer scheme.”
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