Category Archives: Housing

Kensington’s affordable housing disgrace

This bijou no bedroom pad, yours for £300,000

By Amir Akhrif’s Campaign Diary

Do you live in a household that earns an average of £150,000 a year? Do you want to buy an average house in Kensington? Sorry mate, you’re too poor…

The wonderful, hardworking people at Shelter have released their latest Housing League Table, and yup, you’ve guessed it, Kensington has ranked as one of the worst for affordable housing in London. No surprise there, but some of the figures are eye watering!

You would have to earn £158,400 per year in order to afford to buy an average-priced house in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea area.

There are 6,687 households on the waiting list for affordable housing in Kensington – at current letting rates this will take 11.20 years to clear.

Independent experts say your area needs to build 3,663 homes per year. The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea planned for 85 new affordable homes to be provided in your area last year.

Thank you Shelter for exposing the Council’s complete and utter failure in providing affordable housing.

Save Wornington Green: Exclusive interview with an original architect of the estate

Councillor Emma Dent Coad with Peter Deakins

Everyday’s a good day to campaign on something you believe in. Even more so when it’s an issue as important as saving 1,700 residents homes in Wornington Green, at the top end of Portobello Road…

The Conservative-run borough’s planning committee decided last Tuesday to allow the 538 social rented houses on the estate to be knocked down over 12 years, to include 300 privately owned homes.

This is just another example of just how out-of-touch Borough planning is, when it comes to the community of North Kensington. Labour has backed local residents, who believe that knocking down the estate and displacing 1,700 people, to make way for an additionl 300 private homes fetching £300,000 for a 1 bedroom and £1.2 million for a town house, effectively ruins our community for a decade.

At the committee hearing, all of the Labour Councillors opposed the redevelopment and sided with the majority of residents. It is worth noting that every single Councillor that voted in favour of redevelopment were Conservatives. Even though North Kensington remains largely Labour, with no Conservative Councillors.

In response, Labour Councillor Emma Dent Coad, invited the architect of one of the 1960s blocks, Peter Deakins, to come down to Portobello this morning and speak about his views on the redevelopment plans.

Colville Ward candidate Amir Akhrif, was there to film the interview.

If you’d be so kind, do us a little favour next time you look at your street, whether you live on an estate or not. Ask yourself one simple question… “do you feel secure that the Council will protect your home against property developers?”….

After the Council’s decision last Tuesday, we don’t feel secure anymore. That’s why we need Councillors who can sit on these committees and make decisions that listen to local peoples views. That is what Labour intends to do. That is why we are standing for election in May. That is why we are asking for your vote.

“Power back to the people, not to the property developers”…

Written by Amir Akhrif. For more information, you can read his blog at http://amirakhrif.wordpress.com

Down, but not out: Conservatives vote to knock down local estate

London Assembly Member Murad Qureshi with Amir Akhrif and PPC Sam Gurney, campaigning to save 1,700 peoples' homes

For the last few years, residents of the Wornington Green estate at the top end of Portobello Road, have been fighting plans by Kensington Housing Trust to knock down 538 socially rented homes, before building 500 private and 538 socially rented homes on the same site. Effectively doubling the population density. Tonight, Conservative Councillors decided to give the housing trust permission to go ahead with the development, which will displace almost 1,000 residents over the next 12 years.

Leader of the Labour Group Judith Blakeman and Colville Ward Councillor Kieth Cunningham stuck to their guns, and made powerful arguments which swayed 3 Conservative Councillors to oppose the plans and vote with Labour. Unfortunately, the majority of Conservative Councillors voted with the housing trust’s plans to knock down the estate.

Critical issues that Labour raised during the hearing, included questions over: (a) how extra frontline healthcare and primary school places will be provided to accommodate the doubling in the population (the housing trust couldn’t answer); (b) why the square meterage of green and community ameinity space provided is effectively being halved on a per person basis (the housing trust couldn’t answer); (c) whether the housing association could fulfill its commitment to allow social housing residents to come back to the estate, if the number of bedspaces and floorspace is being cut (the housing trust couldn’t answer).

When it came down to the vote, it was 5 in favour of the development and 5 opposed. But it was the Conservative chairman of the Committee that used his chairperson’s casting vote to allow the plans to go ahead.

We believe that a housing development affecting around 1,700 residents is too important to be left to the casting vote of a chairperson. Not after a hung vote, and certainly not after so many residents’ objections. We believe that power must remain with the people, not with property developers. We need to make sure estates all over North Kensington are protected, and are not just seen as fair-game for development.

So, what’s the next step? What can we still do? Well, Labour doesn’t give up that easy. We’ll be contacting the Mayor of London tomorrow morning (although technically, it already is ‘tomorrow morning’). He’s the only person that can put a stop to it now… Don’t hold your breath though, a Tory is a Tory.

We’ll keep you posted..

Written by Amir Akhrif. For more information, you can read his blog at http://amirakhrif.wordpress.com