They will use this as justification for demolishing our homes.
I'll go back to that in a minute. But first, the LDF. Comments had to be in by 17th July. No doubt lots of you who live or work in the borough sent your comments in. What's that you say? You didn't? Why was that? Could it be that....
a) You didn't know about the consultation because it was poorly publicised?
b) You managed to read about the LDF consultation in the very tiny writing on the back of one of the Council's self congratulatory leaflets and dutifully went as they instructed to the Library to get a copy of the LDF. But the Hammersmith Library staff knew nothing about it. You tried again. Same result. You retired home, defeated. (Was somebody secretly filming? Are they sitting at home laughing uproarously at your misadventure?)
c) You went online to try and give your comments but found the procedure of registering and then finding your way through a lengthy, jargon-ridden document and a tortuous, ill-designed comments process both baffling and exhausting. You gave up, humiliated, after a couple of hours. (Did a family member film you sliding off your chair and make a few bucks on the sly?).
d) You don't care about the borough and they can bulldoze it if they like. (Ah, the hysteria as your home crashes to the ground).
Three of the above happened to interested, sensible people who really did want to pass comment on the LDF. People who know how to use computers, find out information, stand up for themselves. So how much harder will it have been for those with no Internet access, mobility problems, sight impairment or communication difficulties? Those of us who went to the library were going to pick up copies for neighbours but you know how that went. (Even Harry Hill couldn't find anything to laugh about there.)
If you'd like to read the LDF + comments please click here.
So where was I? Oh yes, I don't live in a decent neighbourhood. The Council says that a series of 'decent neighbourhood principles' are not achieved here. These are quoted below with comments.
The Council says we are NOT:
1. "A clean and safe neighbourhood located in an area rich in opportunity." What? Have they been here? This is a pleasant, easily accessible area between the riverside, transport and local shops. Non-residents walk, jog and cycle through the estate all the time. We are a clean neighbourhood (though the recent cutbacks by the Council of the caretaking services have had an impact) and close to businesses, shops, transport, leisure etc. i.e. an area rich in opportunity.
2. "A housing mix by type, size and tenure to attract people on a range of incomes." This already exists. A large proportion of leaseholders complement the tenants. There is a mix of young and old and a large proportion of working residents (both paid work and voluntary work). The one thing that we need more of in the local area is larger family properties but knocking down other people's homes is hardly a reputable (or decent) way to achieve this.
3. "Residential development that is predominantly low or medium rise (e.g. 3-6 storeys), with gardens and shared amenity space in street based layouts." All but two of the buildings here are 3 - 4 storeys. All either lead directly onto streets or onto paths within a few feet of streets. There are very well used childrens' play areas and green spaces.
4. "Well designed buildings with active streets, that respect their surroundings." What does this mean?? Where is your plain English? Our buildings are solid and afford a fair amount of privacy because they are not too high density. The flats are a reasonable size. We simply need the Council to finish the Decent Homes programme, for which they have already received Government funding. Are the streets active? Well people use them a lot and stop to chat on them a lot, I suppose this means they are active.
5. "A range of shops, local services, leisure and other facilities within walking distance that meet the needs of a mixed community at different stages of peoples' lives." See Point 1 above. M&S, Primark, Kings Mall, the Broadway Centre, 3 tube lines, bus station, Riverside Studios, Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith Apollo, primary school, churches, restaurants, GP surgery, riverside pubs, after school centre.... all within a 5 - 10 minute walk or less. Add to that Charing Cross Hospital, all the services on Fulham Palace Road and Fulham Football Club all just 15-20 minutes walk away.
6. "Employment & training opportunities for a range of skills and attainment levels." There are plenty of employment opportunities in all the above mentioned amenities and businesses. As a working person I don't know so much about training opportunities locally. I'm sure it would be good to provide more though. It would do more for unemployed people locally than turfing them out of their homes.
7. "Low levels of crime, fear of crime and anti-social behaviour." I don't know the crime figures but I do know that I and my neighbours do not feel afraid to leave our homes at any time of day or night and judging by the amount of non-residents that walk through the estate at all times, neither do they.
8. "A street pattern linking one place to another, encouraging walking routes through areas." There are interlinked paths and roads throughout this estate, all well used and enhanced by trees and areas of greenery.
9."Satisfaction with the local townscape, public realm and environment, and its upkeep; no wasted or uncared for land." We are pretty happy with how it is apart from the impact of the Westway, but that is not going anywhere no matter what. What exactly is meant by wasted land? I worry that this actually means'not built on' when in fact the combination of residential property and open space is what makes this such a pleasant area in which to live and work. Of course it could be improved and we'd love the chance to participate in that - as residents we know better than anyone what's needed.
"Does it matter what the ruling Councillors think about the estate?" I hear you ask. Sticks and stones and all that...
Unfortunately yes, because they will use it as an excuse to raze our perfectly good, decent homes to the ground. They say they want to create a 'mixed community' in a 'decent neighbourhood'. It won't include us. NONE of the plans talk about moving residents out temporarily and then moving them in again. This is a chilling omission because in other parts of the LDF they do at least express an intent to do this on other estates (though only in part). But here - no.
We are decent people living in a decent neighbourhood. Please help us save our homes.