An independent resident-led team has made groundbreaking recommendations to help safeguard council houses and estates from unwanted redevelopment.
Recently, the Defend Council Homes Unit issued its first report to Hammersmith & Fulham Council on how to give tenants and leaseholders more control of their homes and neighbourhoods.
The team has recommended that the council should develop a detailed policy, with residents, that:
- sets out in what circumstances redevelopment proposals could take place and how residents should be involved in the process;
- future redevelopment of council homes should only proceed if tenants and leaseholders are properly consulted following the rules set out in the policy;
- their interests are protected in any proposals.
The team also recommends that the council registers a ‘restriction on title’ with the Land Registry covering all council housing and land – preventing the transfer of land unless this new policy has been complied with.
Shirley Cupit, Chair of Defend Council Homes Unit and a Queen Caroline estate resident, said: “The pressures on council housing in our borough called for new thinking.
“We believe we have arrived at, if not a perfect solution, a plausible legal model capable of protecting residents and the council’s housing stock against unwarranted and unwanted development.
"This idea doesn’t depend on funding from central government and wouldn’t affect your status as tenant or leaseholder.
"The detail of what goes in the policy commitment still needs to be worked out and the council plans to consult you on the proposal - and the detail of the policy commitment - later in the year."
Listening to residents
The independent Defend Council Homes Unit was created in February 2017.
The team is made up of local Hammersmith resident Shirley, as well as independent advisors, Peter Bevington and Anthony Mason. They are being supported by law firm Trowers and Hamlins.
“We are absolutely committed to doing things with residents, not to them and that’s why we set up this independent commission to identify the best way forward,” said Cllr Cowan.
“Without proper protections in place the future of our council housing and estates is under threat.”
On 5 February, the council’s cabinet agreed to take forward the team’s recommendations and will formally consult with council tenants and leaseholders on its draft Defend Council Homes Policy.
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