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No To Land Grab In Chelsea

Monday, November 16, 2015

Sutton Trust Set For £130m Profit On Re Development And Sale To Private Sector Of 2 Acres Of Chelsea Land Acquired By Victorian Philanthropist For Social Housing While Reducing 146 Social Dwellings

Sutton Trust claim to be selling minimum necessary to fund regeneration is misleading and the reality is a shameful asset strip of land in Chelsea bequeathed in perpetuity for social housing in most expensive area of London says GMB.

GMB is accusing the Sutton Trust of asset stripping of land in Chelsea bequeathed by Victorian philanthropist William Sutton to be used in perpetuity for social housing in this most expensive part of London.

Some 462 social homes on the Sutton Estate in Chelsea are to be replaced with 316 homes available for social rent if plans to regenerate the estate are given planning permission. This is a reduction of 146 units. 106 units are for sale to private sector.

Sutton Estate managers applied to Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) for planning permission to demolish and redevelop parts of the estate on 31st July 2015. The planning application has now been validated. There will be a hearing to consider the application in March 2016.

Last month GMB challenged practices on the estate and received assurances that what had happened had been a mistake. See notes to editors for GMB press release dated 22 October.

In correspondence on the regeneration of the estate Sutton Trust told GMB as follows: Our proposals deliver the minimum viable amount of private housing (30% or 106 of the new homes) possible. These will fund the cost of the complete redevelopment of the Estate”.

A GMB analysis of the planning documents on the RBKC website shows that the income from the redevelopment and sale of 2 acres (44% of the land area of the estate) yields £360m. The expenditures associated with the development are £230m. That leaves a profit to Sutton Estate of £130m from the re-development.

GMB is concerned that what is happening on the Sutton Estate is part of wider land grab of land used for now used for social housing.

Zac Goldsmith, the Tory party candidate for Mayor in London, advocates demolishing council and social housing estates where lower paid workers live. See notes to editors for copy of GMB press release on GMB policy, Tory policy and Mr Goldsmith position.

Gary Doolan, GMB political officer, said “GMB estimate that Sutton Trust will make £130 million profit from the redevelopment and sale of 2 acres (44% of total) of land in Chelsea acquired by a Victorian philanthropist for social housing while it reduces the number of social dwellings by 146.

So the Sutton Trust claim to be selling minimum necessary to fund regeneration is misleading.

The reality is a shameful asset strip of land in Chelsea bequeathed in perpetuity for social housing in most expensive area of London

GMB members, working for contractors in the Royal Borough or at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, are lower paid workers. They need access to social housing such at that on the Sutton Estate.

On the planned new development 316 units will be available for social tenants. This is a reduction of 146 units. 106 units are going to be sold.

What concerns GMB regarding these plans is the loss of social units for future generations.

Were these plans to be approved there is as yet no bankable commitment by the Sutton Trust to invest any of the £130m surplus in the borough.

It is now clear that the Sutton Trust are hell bent on this asset stripping and only elected politicians can stop them.

GMB intend to appeal to elected politicians in RBKC and to the electorate during elections in London next year to stop this land grab.”

End

Contact: GMB Gary Doolan 07590 262 504 or for Roehampton contact, Kieron Merrett, GMB Regional Officer on 07866 441656.

Contact ex resident Andrew Barshall 07725 947 222 or email ABarshall@gmail.com

For Sutton Estate contacts: Lisa James on 0207 378 5554 or lisa.james@affinitysutton.com

Notes to editors

Copy of GMB press release Wednesday 21st October 2015

GMB Call On Sutton Estate In Chelsea To Stop Destroying Homes Of Tenants To Make Way For Development Of Luxury Housing

That a working mother yesterday on her way back from school with her children should find her home for 12 years smashed up reeks of Rackman says GMB.

GMB is calling on Keith Exford, CEO of the Sutton Housing Trust, to give a public assurance that there will be no repeat of the disgraceful activity on the Sutton Estate in Chelsea on 20th October. GMB has members who are tenants on this estate.

There a flat occupied by Ms Vesna Vukovic at 34A Bedmond House (Block A) on the Sutton Estate in Cale Street, Chelsea was smashed up and services were cut off while she was out at work.

Vesna Vukovic, a Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) temporary tenant on the Sutton Estate for 12 years, returned home from picking up her children from school, a boy 11 and girl 12, at 3.40 pm to find that workmen had smashed all the windows of the doors of the flats in her stairs.

Sutton Estate managers applied for planning permission to demolish parts of the estate on 31st July 2015. The planning permission is currently being validated. Local Councillors have informed tenants that RBKC officials referred it back to Sutton Estate because of the loss of social housing.

In advance of this planning permission Sutton Estate managers have begun to get rid of tenants particularly in Block A to D. As tenants leave the flats are smashed up.

Zac Goldsmith, the Tory party candidate for Mayor in London, advocates demolishing council and social housing estates where lower paid workers live. See notes to editors for copy of GMB press release on Tory policy and Mr Goldsmith position.

Ian Henderson, Chair Chelsea Association of Tenants, said “This tenant is paying rent to RBKC. One of the windows in her door was smashed, but then boarded over by the workmen. The glass in her main door had been smashed so hard - there was glass in the living room 10 meters away.

The water supply has been cut - she only has 1 tap in the kitchen. There is currently no heating as the water has been turned off.

She has two young children who were extremely distressed at all the glass over the communal entrance. The family pet was inside the property while it was smashed up.

Sutton Estate managers claimed they had no knowledge of any workmen gaining access or stopping the water supply.”

Andrew Barshall, a former resident leading the campaign against demolition, said “Sutton Estate are desperate to run down blocks A-D as they claim they are "void" and therefore they have no duty to replace the social housing in those 4 blocks.

The suspicion must be that should they get pushed back again on full estate demolition, they will look to knock down blocks A-D to be replaced by a gated private block.

Workers under instruction from Sutton Estate smash up flats to make them uninhabitable.

All they are interested in is getting rid of social housing from Chelsea and building luxury flats for overseas investors. William Sutton built the estate for the working poor of Chelsea. He would turn in his grave if he knew what his Trustees are doing.

Keith Exford who is paid £300,000 per year and the executive board paid £1.4million per annum and trustees are spitting on that legacy. The 300 residents on the Sutton Estate are standing up for that legacy and are appealing for support from across London to defend our homes.

It is disgusting that councils across the capital are colluding with Housing Associations and developers in the social cleansing of London.”

Paul Maloney, GMB Regional Secretary, said "What happened on the Sutton Estate yesterday is a disgrace. That a working mother on her way back from school with her children should find her home she has living in for 12 years smashed up reeks of Rackman.

GMB is calling on Keith Exford CBE, CEO of the Sutton Housing Trust, to give a public assurance that there will be no repeat of the disgraceful activity on the Sutton Estate in Chelsea on 20th October.

The Tory Party support this demolition of council and social estates where these workers live to develop luxury housing for sale.

The Tories in Wandsworth Council have already begun this policy of knocking down council estates. In Roehampton in South West London 600 homes face demolition. Some are occupied by council tenants and some by leaseholders who acquired them under right to buy. These latter face compulsory purchase orders to make way for private housing which none of the 600 families can afford to buy. See notes to editors 2 for copy of GMB press release on Roehampton from 2015 GMB Congress in Dublin.

This is a Tory land grab which is also advocated by Zac Goldsmith the Tory party candidate for Mayor in London. See notes to editors 1 for copy of statement by Zac Goldsmith in Daily Telegraph dated 29th September 2015.

The property developers fund the Tories and it is their Party."

End

Notes to editors

Copy of GMB press release dated 5th October 2015:

TORY APPOINTING LORD ADONIS PAVES WAY FOR PLAN TO DEMOLISH COUNCIL ESTATES FOR LOWER PAID WORKERS TO MAKE WAY FOR EXPENSIVE HOUSING

Wandsworth Tories have already begun this policy of knocking down council estates as in Roehampton in South West London 600 homes face demolition says GMB

GMB commented on the Tories appointment of Lord Adonis to oversee big buildings projects in the UK.

Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary, said "The Tory Party claim to be the party of workers is nonsense. As well as taking £1,200 per year in tax credits from 3m workers, with the appointment of Lord Adonis they plan to demolish the council estates where these workers live to develop luxury housing for sale.

If you are going to tell a lie you should tell a big one. The Tories in Wandsworth Council have already begun this policy of knocking down council estates. In Roehampton in South West London 600 homes face demolition. Some are occupied by council tenants and some by leaseholders who acquired them under right to buy. These latter face compulsory purchase orders to make way for private housing which none of the 600 families can afford to buy. See notes to editors 2 for copy of GMB press release on Roehampton from 2015 GMB Congress in Dublin.

This is a Tory land grab which is also advocated by Zac Goldsmith the Tory party candidate for Mayor in London. See notes to editors 1 for copy of statement by Zac Goldsmith in Daily Telegraph dated 29th September 2015.

The property developers fund the Tories and it is their Party."

End

Notes to editors.

1Statement by Zac Goldsmith in Daily Telegraph dated 29th September 2015.

“There is no shortage of land. For one thing, a large portion of the Fifties and Sixties housing estates in London are reaching the end of their lives. There are 3,500 such estates in the capital: if only a fraction were redeveloped to produce low-rise, high-density streetscapes we would generate enough new housing to cater for our needs for many years. It would take time, and existing communities would need to be thoroughly on-board and protected.”

2 GMB press release dated Monday 8th June 2015

GMB CONGRESS IN DUBLIN OPPOSES DEMOLITION OF COUNCIL HOUSING ESTATES THAT ARE TO BE TURNED INTO EXPENSIVE HOMES

40 Council Estates in London are facing demolition so this regeneration will always mean building expensive private dwellings which local people would never be able to afford GMB Congress told.

GMB Congress in Dublin today (8 June) agreed to oppose the demolition of council housing estates to make way for property developers to develop expensive housing for sale that are unaffordable to the residents in the estates being knocked down who are forced to move. See notes to editors for copy of the motion.

GMB Congress called on the CEC to secure TUC and Labour Party support for tenants and leaseholders who are trying to protect their homes and trying to stop this land grab. Congress agreed that we should work to stop cash starved Labour controlled councils using council homes as a cash machine to bridge funding gaps.

Sonya Davies, GMB Branch Secretary and Wandsworth resident, speaking at congress said ‘The previous Tory Local Government Community Secretary, Eric Pickles said that Council Estates should be looked at as ‘Brownfield Sites.’ That allows property developers to come in and in their words ‘Regenerate’ the estates.

This is affecting 40 Council Estates in London where the value of property is very high. In reality this regeneration will always mean building expensive private dwellings which local people would never be able to afford.

Currently in Wandsworth there are 3 Council Estates with working class people being faced with being forced out of their homes. This is because of compulsory purchases so that property developers and the council can profit from the redevelopment.’

Joyce Okoturo, member of GMB Wandsworth branch said ‘It is the buildings themselves that need investment, not demolition and if we can’t stop this in Wandsworth, other communities will be next.’

See notes to editors for a copy of the motion

Notes to editors:

1. The Motion

347. HOUSING ESTATE REGENERATION

This Congress notes that in council owned estates in London and in the South East council tenants and leaseholders face having their homes subject to being compulsory purchased so that the estates can be demolished and “regenerated” into expensive homes that neither tenants nor leaseholders can afford to rent or buy.

GMB Congress calls on the CEC to secure TUC and Labour Party support for tenants and leaseholders who are trying to protect their homes and trying to stop this land grab. A specific aim should be to stop cash starved Labour controlled councils using council homes as a cash machine to bridge funding gaps.

GMB Congress supports estate regeneration where the primary aim is to improve conditions for existing tenants and leaseholders and opposes it where the primary aim is for private developers to cash in and make loads of money while existing tenants and leaseholders face being kicked out of their homes.

GMB Congress calls for regions and branches to take an active hand to warn tenants and leaseholders in London and the South East estates what the Tories plans are for their homes.

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