Blue London

May 5th, 2012

This is a sad day for London.  The election of Boris Johnson as Mayor for the second time, made worse by it being only a narrow victory, when seen in the light of his support for the Conservative administration of H&F and his planning decisions in support of the social cleansing policies of that borough, is not to be welcomed by anyone who cares about the plight of council tenants across London.

This blog was created as a direct result of an article in the Evening Standard on Thursday 9th July 2009 highlighting the intention of the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham to rid the borough of council estates and their residents.  In the nearly three years since they have gone some way towards this and certainly done little to reassure the worried that their intentions are otherwise.

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Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council today welcomes the return of Right to Buy, but says that local authorities should have the freedom to be able to retain all of the proceeds from the scheme so that they can build more affordable homes.

Next week on the evening of November 30th there will be a planning meeting for a scheme that will include NO affordable homes.

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Nicky Gavron on mixed estates

August 31st, 2011

The mayor wants private, market housing to be built in areas with lots of social housing. But his plan does not seek new social housing in areas with lots of private homes.”

An article from the Guardian today highlights yet again where the Tory London administration is failing when it comes to housing policy.  Nicky Gavron has been spot on with her analysis of where the problem lies and has been saying this for some time but nobody seems to be listening.

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Kate Davies and H&F

May 4th, 2011

Fun with Nick and Kate
Both the Independent on Sunday and the Daily Mail featured the erstwhile director of housing for Hammersmith, Nick Johnson, and his partner, Kate Davies, this week. Good investigative journalism but slightly missing the point, which is why are they paid so much out of public funds to promote private housing?

The same day I saw these stories I got notice of a planning application from Notting Hill Housing (prop. Kate Davies). It is to build 41 properties on the former VW garage site in King Street.  Four of these will be five-bedroomed town houses in St Peter’s Square, each retailing for about £3million on the open market – which is what all 41 will be doing. Apparently, there is insufficient equity in the site for this housing association – whose only purpose for existing and paying its chief executive is to house people on low incomes – to build a single affordable home.

282 Goldhawk Road update

October 18th, 2010

UPDATE: 10/3/14 Work on site at Ashchurch Villas

UPDATE: 3/12/12

The two plots 282/292 were subsequently sold to First Base who short listed four practices of which two are known to be PTEa and MAE, the project was given to PTEa after each practice gave a presentation of their intended plans.

Last year the housing association Places for People put forward a scheme at 282 Goldhawk Road designed by Peter Barber architects for housing on the site of a former old peoples home, which proved to be unpopular with local residents not only for its height and potential to overlook adjoining property but for its poor design.

I wrote two articles about the intended development, one here

and a shorter one here

Tonight saw the AGM of the Ashchurch Residents Association at the Sulgrave Club, more or less opposite the site in question which was notable for being attended for its duration by Nick Johnson, Head of H&F Homes in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, Councillor Lucy Ivimy and more briefly by the leader of Hammersmith and Fulham council, Stephen Greenhalgh.

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Blighted homes

March 29th, 2010

Long before residents of council estates under threat stand any chance of being rehoused into the new part of phased redevelopments there is a significant danger of them becoming “the dispossessed” – those unfortunates scattered about a former estate in the midst of abandonment, vermin infestation, squatters and burned out flats.  If it were only a one off that would be worrying enough but there is clear evidence that carelessness and lack of consideration for the tenants by the councils is commonplace.

Fulham Court

“Between 1982 and 1986 the Tory/Liberal coalition council emptied most of the 400+  flats in Fulham Court with a view to selling it to a private developer for refurbishment as private flats. Tenants were re-housed by going to the top of the waiting list which meant the rest of the borough’s tenants had a lower priority.  A spirited campaign by tenants including marches and legal actions and the decision by a group of tenants to stick it out meant that by the time the Tories lost power in 1986 there were still residents in some blocks.  By that time some of the estate had been sold to the developer and the rest was dilapidated – empty flats were boarded up, only essential maintenance had been done and lack of care by the council meant there was squatting, fly tipping and infestation.  Labour cut a deal with the developer to buy back what was sold and refurbished the whole estate as council homes, as it has remained since.”

Andy Slaughter MP

That was then but now the estate is under threat again from the Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Stephen Greenhalgh and his plans to rid the borough of council tenants.

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Where do the children play?

March 18th, 2010

282 Goldhawk Road

I’ve been looking at the plans for 282 Goldhawk Road by Peter Barber architects and recently reading the Hansard transcript of the second reading of the 1909 Housing Act.  Despite the passage of just over 100 years, the English is clear and the reasoning beyond question.  Dear Mr Barber where do the children play?

“England is not so destitute of land upon which to house its poor that they should be housed in working class tenements without a backyard in which to chop the wood and put the coal, and in which the children can play whilst the mother is able to keep a friendly eye on them through the washhouse window, and at the same time continue to carry on her domestic duties.

All this is impossible in back-to-back houses, where the children have only got a stuffy room for a playground; and in the days of rapid traction you have no right to relegate children to play in a small front garden, or in the road or street, when the community is rich enough to provide the humblest garden in the majority of cases, and some measure of a backyard in which the youngsters can play whilst the domestic duties in the house are being carried out.

This can be done better in through ventilated houses with a backyard and a garden than is possible in the case of back-to-back houses.”

Peter Barber architects have visited my blog:-

A visitor from (
arrived from 282 goldhawk road cameron 1-10,
and visited
at 15:50:58 on Friday, June 4, 2010.
This visitor used Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-GB;
rv: Firefox/3.0.19.

That’s something to celebrate. They won’t change the design though, sadly.  They have already got planning permission the project has been stopped.

UPDATE: I went to look at it yesterday 23/6/2010 and things are looking up.  There are indications that the plans may be reviewed, for details please contact the Residents’ association at

UPDATE: The residents’ association plans are moving on, I received this today 11/9/2010:-

Following Harry Phibb’s newsletter mentioning plans to inlcude 292 and 280 Goldhawk Road in our favourite development, we have now met Nick Johnson, the council executive who Cllr Greenhalgh asked to review the 282 plans back in May.
He assured us the 282 development will not go ahead as planned, and that our many concerns have been taken on board. The development may include the 292 site (on the corner of Ashchurch Park Villas), which Mr Johnson thinks willenable them to deliver a better development which respects the local area. He said 280, the old surgery on the corner ofAshchurch Grove is not included in this development.
We expect another update before the meeting , so come and hear more and have your say.
Other business will include
  • – election of officers – we are looking for someone to take on Neighbourhood Watch
  • – agreeing a constitution and subscrpition for ARA
  • – update on our FOI on the trees on the 282 site – we have a victory to report!
  • antisocial behaviour on 282 site
  • – drugs, dangerous dogs etc
  • -issues relating to Ravenscourt Park
  • – developments in Askew Road
and the Starch Green event in July –  for more on that see below.

If you were one of the 300 or so people who attended the very successful all day event at Starch Green on 26th June. The architects promised they would put togethera summary of the many exciting ideas contributed by those that attended for improving the Starch Green area.

They now invite you to come  review the Exhibition and enjoy a glass of wine.
When : Tuesday 21st September 2010 from 6  8pm

Where : The Mayor’s Foyer at Hammersmith Town Hall (Courtesy of the Mayor)

Please email Melanie Whitlock (  if you’d like to come, they need numbers in advance.
Many thanks
Fiona Anderson
Chair, Ashchurch Residents Assocation

UPDATE: This development is on hold following protests by the residents associaton the Aschurch Residents Association and the subsequent intervention of Nick Johnson head of H&F Homes.

UPDATE: Thanks to A. Hussein of Design of Homes I have been able to add the following graphic to this article from the Essex Design Initiative website.

Click the image for the whole document

A film from the BFI which explores the same subject.

Low Level Housing 1975 (free to watch)

Policy for children’s play is crucial – and not just for better health

Right to buy

February 15th, 2010

Stephen Greenhalgh and “decent neighbourhoods”

Anybody got anything intelligent to say about the continuing to stack the poorest and the most recently arrived on top of each other, in defined areas, for the rest of time?

Clearly you are right that this is not a good idea. However you have to look at the history to see why this now appears to be the case.

When RTB was introduced by Margaret Thatcher it was always going to be the most desirable properties in the best locations that went first to those who could afford the discounted prices. This inevitably altered the housing stock balance across the country adversely and tilted towards the estates which even if they had not been in trouble before now began to decline because tenants able to afford RTB on those estates moved out and let the flats to DSS tenants.

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Estates under threat

February 5th, 2010

“Among Tory boroughs across London, there seems now to be a disease spreading ever wider that the land on which council tenants live is available for development”

[Tory struck out 7/11/12 owing to realisation that they’re all at it. Hello Southwark (Lab)! – Ed.]

On [Thursday] July 9th 2009 Paul Waugh of the London Evening Standard published an article on the planned demolition of all the council estates in Hammersmith and Fulham. I read this while returning home having been to a political meeting at the Methodist Hall in Westminster, and on arriving home got straight on the computer to find out more about it. I quickly discovered that there was already a blog for Queen Caroline and later on found out about the Ferrier Estate in Kidbrooke and Greenwich.

Later on in the year I subscribed to Roof magazine (now sadly no longer with us – April 2012) from Shelter, found myself speaking to Andy Slaughter on the telephone for 15 minutes about H&F and have subsequently continued to take a keen interest in council housing matters and the Tory intention to end it.

I have a personal interest in council housing because from 10/78 to 10/80 I lived at 93 Aragon Tower on the Pepys Estate (via the GLC hard-to-let scheme) which  “was sold by Lewisham Council to Berkeley Group, in 2002 for £11.5m” (£80k per flat), to fund a leisure centre in the borough for £7 million and provide some money for regeneration of the remaining estate. This was their best block, the jewel in the crown, and they displaced 144 families to do so. To me this was the start of the rot, although there may have been other examples I simply don’t know. The estate featured in a documentary called The Tower.

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Progressive London 2010

February 3rd, 2010

I was at Progressive London 2010 on Saturday.  Got there just after the start at 10am it was bustling in the main foyer.  Being a Dave Hill follower I was keen to see the man in person and  having made it to the back of a crowded and stuffy room on the 2nd floor, standing room only, he was next to speak.  He said that Boris was a milder and more gentle version of what might have been expected, less contentious and more redistributive, that he had increased free access to travel for some groups unexpectedly.

He said that Boris was difficult to get hold of to answer difficult questions, that Ken used to let the Mayor’s question time run on until everybody had had their say but Boris just cut it off when time was up.  He said that it is possible to get answers out of Boris but that you have to follow him around London to his numerous “openings” and tackle him on the spot.  He added that Boris produced a large amount of written answers to questions to such an extent that Dave was encouraging bloggers to go through it all and saying that more bloggers were needed since stories often arose from their writings.  By the time Dave had finished speaking the room was even more crowded and stuffy so I left to get some air.

Downstairs in the foyer I met one of the HandsoffQC people and had a coffee and a chat about the goings on in Hammersmith and Fulham.

Back in Invision Suite 4 with the windows open it was time for the Housing session, less crowded than the earlier Boris do but slowly filled up.  Megan Dobney kicked off, Dave Hill turned up this time as an audience member, with his familiar long grey coat and notebook in hand.  Nicky Gavron had a lot to say about the London Plan which she had worked on with Ken back in the day, but more to say about the dismantling of it going on with the Boris version called the draft London Plan which was abandoning the aims of the Labour version by taking a borough by borough approach and reducing almost to zero those targets for affordable homes in Conservative boroughs while increasing those in Labour ones.  It would seem that under Ken the London plan took a city wide approach to affordable housing.

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