The tendency for London’s Tory councils to leap into bed with property developers was all too visible in Hammersmith and Fulham, with the scheme to “redevelop” the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates, along with the Earl’s Court exhibition centre, which may not now go ahead following the Blue Team’s ejection from power. But elsewhere in south-west London, council tenants may not be so fortunate.
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) has no threat to Tory rule, with 37 out of 50 seats secured last month. Here, a potentially controversial new feature will be a station on the Crossrail 2 line. This was slated to be in the area of Chelsea fire station, but, as those on the World’s End and Cremorne estates found out recently, someone has decided to explore a site further to the west.
World's End Estate from the air, with the Cremorne Estate at top right
World’s End estate dates from the early 1970s: a mix of medium rise and tower blocks, it has worn rather better than 1950s and 60s developments. Residents have known for some time of rumours regarding the dread R-word, as in redevelopment, but what was not expected was that Crossrail 2 would be used as cover, and by what appears to be the personal choice of the council leader.
World's End Estate viewed from across the Thames
A notice dated 10th June has been posted on the estate, and makes worrying reading: titled “Crossrail 2 Consultation”, it tells “Transport for London is about to start consulting on the proposed route for a Crossrail 2, including a station in the Borough. Previously its preferred option was to locate this station on the King’s Road near the fire station”. And then comes the however.
What the unsuspecting residents saw
“However, at the request of RBKC Leader Councillor Nick Paget-Brown, TfL has considered some sites further west ... TfL will therefore consult on a station within the Cremorne Estate [next to World’s End]. This would include two entrances: a northern entrance onto King’s Road and a second entrance located immediately to the east of Cremorne Gardens”. That spans Cremorne and World’s End.
Then comes the R-word: “This option sets some challenges, as it could only come forward as part of a larger regeneration programme for the estate. This is due to the size of the surface level worksites that would be required”. The Residents’ Association appears to have added “Urgent – Please Attend to Vote ... These are not meetings – you only need to vote against the knocking down of the estate”.
So there you have it: the proposed Crossrail 2 station has been moved around 1km west so that it would be located directly under the Cremorne and World’s End estates. This would then be used as cover for a money-spinning “redevelopment”, for which read demolition, followed by replacement with upmarket properties which might just be out of reach of displaced tenants.
And it’s all been done by stealth – as I’ll show in a follow up post.