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Saturday, 26 July 2014

Consequences

At various points during our campaign we have found ourselves explaining to our residents and neighbours the consequences of any redevelopment, or regeneration, of the Cremorne Estate. 

To eliminate all doubt lets be clear: the consequences of any redevelopment are determined by Council policy. At the time of writing the Council's policy is perfectly straightforward.

If the redevelopment of Cremorne Estate takes place, displaced Council tenants are unlikely to be rehoused in the area. The new Allocation Policy means tenants get one offer of "suitable" housing, and if they don’t want it the Council has the right to "discharge their Duty to House". 

Council leaseholders will be "bought out" (potentially compulsory purchased) and have neither the right, nor in many cases the means, to be rehoused in the local area.

Is this not the destruction of the local community in all but name?

This is what we faced and why we fought and continue to fight. Our community is precious and we will not allow it to be harmed or destroyed in this manner.

Lies, damned lies and Council surveys

Transport for London (TfL) carried out a London-wide consultation to gauge the level of support for Crossrail 2, as proposed, amongst residents between May and August 2013. 

For some strange, and as yet unexplained reason, the Council (the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea) decided to run its own survey before responding to the TfL consultation. As far as we know Kensington and Chelsea was the only London borough to actually do this; every other London borough just let TfL get on with it. 

The Council's survey and its results are described on the Council's website here:


The page also contains a report on the outcome of the survey and the now infamous letter from Councillor Timothy Coleridge to Mayor Boris Johnson suggesting, for the very first time, a Crossrail 2 station "further west" of the safeguarded location at Chelsea Fire Station.

The report makes interesting reading. Given the content of the letter from Tim to Boris you might have expected it to have produced some truly outstanding and unexpected results that prompted Tim to write to Boris with the greatest of urgency. 

Did it reveal, we wondered, that the vast majority of residents were against Crossrail 2? 

Did it reveal, we wondered, that the vast majority of residents did not want a Crossrail 2 station at the safeguarded location at Chelsea Fire Station? 

Did it reveal, we wondered, a groundswell of support for a Crossrail 2 station further west, perhaps near World's End or the Cremorne Estate?

Let's take a look.

Question 1 tried to determine the level of support for Crossrail 2 (aka "the Chelsea-Hackney line"). It asked: "How strongly do you support or oppose the introduction of the Chelsea- Hackney Line, with a station in Chelsea?"

And the results were: Support - 70% (2051 residents); Neither support nor oppose - 4% (115 residents); Oppose - 25% (729 residents). 

So 70% of residents, 7 out of every 10, were in favour of both Crossrail 2 and a Crossrail 2 station in Chelsea. 

Question 5 tried to determine the level of support for a Crossrail 2 station at the currently safeguarded location of Chelsea Fire Station. It asked: "Are you in favour of a Chelsea-Hackney Line station in the Dovehouse Green/Chelsea Fire Station area?"

And the results were: Yes - 59% (1734 residents); No - 32% (934 residents); Don't know - 8% (235 residents).

Again, pretty conclusive. 59% of residents, or 6 out of every 10, were quite happy with the proposed location of the station at Dovehouse Green/Chelsea Fire station.

Now based on this you might start to wonder just where the idea for a station "further west" actually came from. If 7 out of every 10 residents supported the idea of Crossrail 2, with a station in Chelsea, and 6 out of every 10 residents were quite happy with the currently proposed site why would the Council even contemplate writing to Boris suggesting anything else? The answer is question 7. 

Question 7 tried to prompt residents to propose alternative locations for the Crossrail 2 station. It asked: "Is there a better location for a station than the Dovehouse Green/ Chelsea Fire Station area?"

And the results were: No - 33% (959 residents); Yes, to the west - 30% (892 residents); Yes, to the east - 4% (115 residents); Other (blank or don't know) - 34% (984 residents).

It's worth noting that by far the largest group of respondents to the question is the "other" group - those who simply didn't answer or didn't know. This is cause for some concern and should have prompted those analysing the results of the survey to treat the response to this question with particular care. Sadly they did not. 

The second largest group of respondents are those perfectly happy with the station at Dovehouse Green/Chelsea Fire Station. Add those two groups together and you pretty much end up with the same number of residents who answered "yes" to question 5 (959 + 892 = 1851; versus 1734). Those proposing a station "to the west" are actually the third largest group of respondents. 

Unfortunately question 7 leads the Council to make a very spurious claim. The Council has claimed that

"there was strong support for a station at the Chelsea Fire Station site on Dovehouse Street, but an almost equal number of respondents thought a new station would do more good if it were further west, towards Fulham"

Is this statement true? The actual survey results suggest otherwise.

The number of residents who favour a station at Dovehouse Green/Chelsea Fire station is indicated by the response to Question 5 - 1734 residents. 

The number of residents who favour a station "to the west" is indicated by the response to Question 7 - 892 residents. 

On what planet are 1734 and 892 comparable and "an almost equal number"? 

What's even more shocking is the actual break down of the alternative sites proposed also listed in the report. The number of respondents suggesting a station "near World's End" (i.e. the Cremorne Estate) is an outstandingly enormous 136

It would appear that the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea were perfectly happy to change their own long-standing policy on Crossrail 2 - for a station in Chelsea at the safeguarded site of Chelsea Fire Station - and write a lengthy letter to Mayor Boris Johnson proposing an alternative site on the Cremorne Estate on the strength of just 136 respondents whilst simultaneously ignoring the wishes of 1734. 

That can't be right surely?

Monday, 21 July 2014

Local Paper: "Campaigners call on Kensington and Chelsea Council to rule out Crossrail 2 site on their estate"

Our recent coverage in the local paper:

Campaigners are calling on Kensington and Chelsea Council to officially rule out a proposal to build a Crossrail 2 station on their estate.


A statement by Councillor Timothy Coleridge, the council's transport boss, said it was now throwing its weight behind Chelsea Fire Station as the best location for a station in a TfL consultation. Yet this has not come as a relief for Cremorne residents whose estate was only identified as a possible site after a letter proposing it was leaked last month . Amalia Cebreiro, chairwoman of the Cremorne Resident’s Association suspects the council of trying to derail their campaign against homes being bulldozed by pretending the area is no longer under threat. The council deny the claim.

Ms Cebreiro said: “We welcome the statement but we’re very cautious. We’re extremely concerned residents may be lulled into a false sense of security. When the consultation was launched (last month) it didn’t mention the Cremorne Estate - it just gave the choice between ‘Chelsea West’ or the fire station site, or no station at all - yet they’ve known about this for a year. We still don’t know exactly know what the ‘Chelsea West’ area is, how many homes would have to be knocked down. We want an official confirmation that the Cremorne Estate and surrounding area is no longer being considered.”

Ms Cebreiro called for the boundaries of the ‘Chelsea West’ area to be published, a parliamentary inquiry into why it took the leaked letter for residents and MP Greg Hands to discover Cremorne Estate was threatened and for the council to correct wording in its statement. She said it is refers to a tube station rather than a regional train station which would have a much bigger impact on the area.

Mr Coleridge said in his statement the council has decided Chelsea Fire Station in Dovehouse Street would be better. It said although an area dubbed 'Chelsea West' further along the Kings Road would be closer to more people within walking distance, the fire station site would bring greater economic benefits for shops and ‘there is just too much uncertainty at present about the impact on council tenants and leaseholders’.

A council spokesman said it had asked TfL to investigate a site further west of the fire station because the idea was backed by residents in a survey last year. He added: “The council did not push for a site further west, or identify any particular site – all it did was ask TfL to investigate. TfL took up the council’s request and identified a broad location at Cremorne. Having looked at TfL’s options and having considered the latest round of public consultation, we believe that the fire station site is indeed the better option for Chelsea and we will shortly be telling TfL so in our own submission to the current consultation. It will be TfL that takes the final decision about where to build the station.”

The consultation at consultations.tfl.gov.uk/crossrail/june-2014/ closes on Friday (25). The planned line would run from Epsom in the south and Twickenham in the West to New Southgate and Cheshunt in the north.

Original story at: 
http://www.getwestlondon.co.uk/news/local-news/campaigners-call-kensington-chelsea-council-7464838
Greg Hands MP addresses residents' concerns at the Cremorne Residents Association AGM:

“I was struck by the strength of feeling at the meeting against a Crossrail 2 station coming to Cremorne. I have not seen plans or drawings or even precise locations for any of the suggested station sites, so I pledged to get to the bottom of these proposals, and to sort out what is fact from what is rumour or speculation. Tenants and residents rightly want to know the truth, and my key commitment at the meeting was to get this.”

Friday, 18 July 2014

Council supports Crossrail 2 station at Chelsea Fire Station

Residents and Residents Associations have started receiving electronic copies of a letter from Councillor Timothy Coleridge (Cabinet Member for Planning Policy, Transport and Arts). 

The letter states that: 

"The Council is backing Chelsea Fire Station as the right place for a Crossrail 2 station". 

and that: 

"On balance therefore we have concluded that the fire station site is the better option for Chelsea and we will shortly be telling TfL so in our own submission to the current consultation."

Chelsea Fire station is the station identified as "Kings Road" during TfL's consultation, not the station identified as "Chelsea West"; which is actually the site of the Cremorne Estate.

We have been advised that a Key Decision has been prepared along these lines and that a formal response to the TfL consultation has already been drafted. The Council's response clearly identifies the originally safeguarded site - Chelsea Fire Station - as the Council's preferred option. 

Notably the Council appears to have accepted the argument that constructing a Crossrail 2 station on the Cremorne Estate would be massively disruptive and damaging and bring far fewer economic benefits to the area:.

"... the economic benefits, particularly for our retail sector, would be much smaller. And there is just too much uncertainty at present about the impact on Council tenants and leaseholders. Major redevelopment of council homes would only ever be countenanced by Kensington and Chelsea when supported by cast-iron guarantees about how residents’ interests would be protected and indeed enhanced."

We are currently discussing these latest developments with our MP, Greg Hands. 

We are cautiously optimistic that the Council has finally come to accept the simple truth that the damage a station on the site of the Cremorne Estate would cause to the local community - the residents of the estate, its neighbours and local businesses - far outweigh any benefits it might bring, whilst the opposite is clearly the case at the originally safeguarded site at Chelsea Fire Station. 

We remain vigilant and will be keeping a close eye on further developments. We will also pursue all of our pending lines of inquiry with the Council, TfL and other parties to their eventual conclusion and aim to keep everyone up to date on what happens next. 

Monday, 14 July 2014

From the Hornet's Nest: "Wrecking Balls ... first Sutton buildings and now Cremorne"

From the Hornet's Nest, a political blog covering "political machinations" in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, recently covered the thorny issues of regeneration and gentrification in its own unique style:

 Sutton Dwellings

The Cremorne Estate

The 'common and the poor' are no longer welcome in the Rotten Borough.

For centuries, all classes of humanity....rich and poor, rubbed along well together.

It was a defining feature of Borough life making it the characterful place it once was-but increasingly less so.

In decades to come it will be just a ghetto for ultra rich foreigners to hide their ill gotten gains, looted from their own impoverished countries.

According to this reader Nick Paget-Brown told her 'that retaining the social mix made the Borough so special'.

Could Nick have been 'avin a larf? Or just lying through his back teeth?

It seems Affinity Sutton have been given the 'nod and the wink' to wreck Sutton Buildings and right behind come TfL ready to smash up the Cremorne Estate.

Hundreds of millions of pounds will be made by forcing out residents, many doing essential jobs in K&C, just so soulless developers can build soulless developments.

A reader writes....

Dear Dame

Yesterday my friends received a letter telling them that the Cremorne Estate Worlds End where they have lived for years is going to be demolished. Apparently the revered Paget Brown is fully in agreement with this. What a hypocrite the man is and how does he sleep at night. When he came to a charity in North Kensington a few months ago I brought up the subject of social housing in the borough. He told me that it was imperative that we keep the social mix as that is what makes this borough so special and that we must keep the levels that we have.


This is the first that the tenants have heard about this but they should not worry because they will be rehoused in DAGENHAM according to the letter. Who said that social cleansing finished with Lady Porter. Many of the families who live there work in local schools and hospitals as well as local government workers. That's a long commute from Dagenham.


The whole estate is in uproar and as more locals find out they will be wondering if they are next. This was kept very quiet and has only now come out after the local elections.


Regards


A resident


Original story at:
http://fromthehornetsnest.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/wrecking-ballsfirst-sutton-buildings.html

Local Paper: "Neighbours fear council 'social cleansing' with Crossrail 2 plans"

Our recent coverage in the local paper: 

Neighbours from Chelsea's Cremorne Estate fear their homes could be demolished for a Crossrail 2 station

Neighbours fearing their homes could be destroyed to make way for a Chelsea Crossrail 2 station have accused the council of social cleansing.

The packed-out Cremorne Residents Association AGM last night (July 7) turned into a lively debate as the issue of a potential Crossrail 2 station on the estate riled everyone up.

Getwestlondon revealed on June 26 leaked plans showing Kensington and Chelsea Council may have suggested an option to Transport for London (TfL) meaning homes on the 50-year-old estate would have to be demolished. The council vehemently denies this.

TfL is currently consulting on two station options , one near the King’s Road fire station and a ‘Chelsea West’ option which is on the Cremorne Estate, according to the leaked document. Work would not start until 2020.



Greg Hands, Fulham and Chelsea MP, joined neighbours and shopkeepers at the AGM. He said: “I only found out Cremorne could be the site for a new Crossrail 2 station at the same time as residents. I’ll be meeting with TfL and the council to clear up what the detailed plans are.”

He could not say if he supported the residents plea save their homes but did tell them he supports mixed housing in the borough as it ‘makes London the fantastic place it is today’.

Several residents, including chair of the residents association, Amalia Cebreiro, accused the council of social cleansing as they were supported by members of the Lots Road Residents Association and the Sutton Estate Residents Association.

Ms Cebreiro said: “The leader of the council, Nick Paget-Brown stated the biggest obstacle to middle bracket earners coming into the area were right to buy residents and life tenancy ones. This just shows how they want us out. The council's planning boss, Tim Coleridge admitted to me on the phone Cremorne was marked for the station but in public he won’t say it - it’s a way of managing the classes.

“The Mayoress, Maighread Condon-Simmonds is on the board of KCTMO so must have known this for ages but didn’t say anything.”

She added Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) told her she could not discuss Crossrail 2 at the AGM.

The council’s planning boss, Tim Coleridge, accused the residents of ‘going off on a tangent’ and that TfL has not told the council about the detailed plans. “We did a consultation last year and 70 per cent of people said they wanted a station in Chelsea. We don’t know the details but anyone can take a guess it will have an entrance in Cremorne. We’re not social cleansing, nothing could be further from the truth, we want to keep people in Chelsea.

“If we did have to knock down a block in Cremorne we would make sure people had a modern, beautiful home to move into on the estate before it happened.”

Residents handed in a petition to Greg Hands last night in a bid to save their homes.

Original story at:
http://www.getwestlondon.co.uk/news/local-news/neighbours-fear-council-social-cleansing-7392583

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Cremorne Estate RA AGM

The Cremorne Estate's Residents Association held its Annual General Meeting on Monday evening (7th of July). The main topic of discussion was, without question, the proposed Crossrail 2 station on the site of the estate. In attendance, as guests, were our MP, Greg Hands, representatives from neighbouring Residents Associations, and the local press.

Greg Hands MP answers residents questions and notes their concerns

The local press covered the event and posted the the following article this morning:

http://www.getwestlondon.co.uk/news/local-news/neighbours-fear-council-social-cleansing-7392583

Friday, 4 July 2014

It's only rock'n'rail ...

Tonight's Evening Standard featured a story describing the our plight and that of our neighbours - to be threatened by the proposed Crossrail 2 station in Chelsea.


And if rumours are to be believed things may be even worse than we thought.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Asking Nick

On Monday evening the leader of the Council, Councillor Nick Paget-Brown, held one of his regular "Ask Nick" events. 


We went, we asked.

As per the event's description: 

"Residents are reminded that next Monday, 30 June, is the first time since the local elections to have a chance to meet the Leader of the Council, Councillor Nick Paget-Brown who is holding his fourth open meeting to hear residents' issues first hand."

The event is at Kensington Close Hotel, Wrights Lane, Kensington W8 5SP and begins at 6pm with light refreshments and then at 6.30pm, Councillor Paget-Brown will give a short introduction followed by a question and answer session."

We went along and asked some questions. We got answers. Just not very good ones. 

Councillors continue to insists that it was TfL, not the Council, that proposed locating a station on the Cremorne Estate. Unfortunately this answer conflicts with the content of the letter Councillor Coleridge wrote to Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, last August. That letter includes a specific request for a station to be located "between World's End and Beaufort Street". Unless the Council intends to desecrate the Moravian cemetery there's not much else between World's End and Beaufort Street other than the Cremorne Estate. They may not have said it, but they clearly meant it. 

Councillors also repeated the claim that the Council consulted residents with regards to the proposed site of a Crossrail 2 station last year. The problem is that no-one we have spoken with to date recalls that consultation. Many recall the consultation carried out by TfL (to which a mere 181 residents of the borough responded) but none recall the subsequent consultation the Council claims to have carried out. This seems more than a little fishy. We are not yet claiming that the consultation is bogus, but we are withholding our verdict and will investigate further.

We found find it particularly comforting to be reassured that the Council does not, in any way, intend to participate in any form of "social cleansing" of our little corner of Chelsea. We would very much like to believe this but would note a distinct reluctance on the part of both the Council and individual Councillors to give any assurances whatsoever. Surely, we ask ourselves, that should not be so difficult if they do not, in fact, and as they claim, have any nefarious intentions? Yet no Councillor has been willing to promise anything at all, whether in relation to the disruption that would be caused by the construction of the proposed station, the long term future of the estate or that of the people affected. Providing some clarity, transparency and meaningful guarantees as to how the Council intends to proceed would help reassure residents that "social cleansing" is indeed the furthest thing on the Council's mind. Why the hesitation? 

In the meantime, we will not apologise for assuming the worst. Our community has been placed in jeopardy by those who appear happiest operating in the shadows and behind the scenes, making decisions without engaging with those whose lives will be directly affected. Remember: we learnt of this through a leaked document, not from the Council, the TMO or TfL. That simple fact says more about the intentions behind what has happened to date than anything Nick said to us on Monday when we asked him a question. 

Verdict: must try harder.