Wringing the wrong numbers: A poor reception for Shaun Bailey

Conservative London Mayoral candiate, Shaun Bailey, is making a long overdue return to tbis blog today.

The Dame on From The Hornets Nest http://fromthehornetsnest.blogspot.com/?m=1 had this to say on him last December:

Over a sandwich lunch, the Dame endured an hour of Bailey talking incoherent rubbish. Not once did he ask a question. He behaved like a mobile phone salesman not the potential mayor of a super city. So we thought we would do the Photoshop honours….

Recently, THINKers received a copy of his election leaflet disguised as a magazine “London Life”

In this publication, Bailey seems very keen to play up his less privileged background in North Kensington …

Here’s what homes in the North Kensington street Shaun Bailey grew up in go for these days:

Rags to riches? But Bailey’s supposed answer to homelessness and the housing crisis in the capital was to ridiculously suggest encouraging London’s 62,670 homeless households (and that official figure doesn’t include “hidden homeless” – people “sofa surfing ” or living in overcrowded households) to apply for shared ownersbip!

No answers as to how cash strapped homeless bouseholds might somehow out of thin air, be able to get the ¬£5,000 deposit together or acknowledgment of the fact at all that unemployed people, those on lower incomes and some who work but do not always have the guaranteed regular level of regular income, wouldn’t be accepted in the first place.

Rightly, fellow Kensington blog The Steeple Times was very scathing about this, calling Bailey “Moron of the Moment”:

https://www.thesteepletimes.com/the-fog/shaun-bailey-homeless/

Here’s more from Shaun Bailey’s political leaflet-disguised-as-a-magazine, an interview with Karren Brady:

Still on housing, he talks about building more supposedly “affordable homes” . Well we have a few of what are deemed as these , built by Catalyst Housing on the regenerated former Wornington Green Estate (now Portobello Square) – another part of North Kensington where Bailey used to live – they start at ¬£600k and many are sitting empty, but hey, who cares, let’s just go and build some more! Like that’s going to solve the ptoblem….

Perhaps he could look into building more SOCIAL housing to help with the homelessness issue? Though it’s clear he isn’t even prepared to bother entertaining that thought and social housing is not mentioned ANYWHERE in this leaflet

Bailey does mention Sadiq Khan spending money on building homes to rent and that he will instead divert the cost for that into homes to buy – but who for?

Also, if Bailey doesn’t want to be “moron of the moment” he might just spare a thought for some of the Londoners who did buy into the dream of owning their own home under the shared ownership scheme, only for that dream to turn to dust, because of costs due to the cladding and fire safety scandal leaving them facing bankruptcy and homelessness (the Fire Safety Bill returns to the Commons today); but no, it appears Mr Bailey has absolutely nothing to say on this – he is merely aspiring to be Boris Johnson’s puppet at City Hall and is perfectly content to sit there while his “master” happily pulls the strings and sends hard-working people down the river…..

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/thousands-trapped-decade-london-cladding-scandal-b917899.html

As for crime prevention, for someone who has masses of experience as a youth worker , Bailey has previously made positive encouraging noises elsewhere about providing 62 new youth centres to help , but where is the money to do this actually going to come from? Who knows, he seems to have completely forgotten about that.

He also seems to have forgotten about this

http://fromthehornetsnest.blogspot.com/2020/02/bail-out-of-bailey.html?m=1

What little the magazine does say of his policies on crime is of him supposedly providing 8,000 more Police Officers. How? He just says he will cut bureaucracy such as offfice costs but fails to say anything more about that. He does mention that he will partly fund this with revenue gained from introducing corporate sponsorship of the tube lines and stations, but this also appears to be the only solution he offers to sort out the TfL financial crisis. Again, no costings, no further details.

As well corporate sponsorship of the tube being a much-loathed and vulgar idea in the eyes of many Londoners (“Coca- Cola Hill Gate Station” anyone? ), Bailey, despite the mentions of where he grew up, again forgets his roots and perhaps ought to be aware of the public outcry and upset around here that happened a few years ago when someone made the suggestion of changing the name of Latimer Road Station .

The outside of Latimer Road is currently about to be redecorated as part of a local arts project, but we guess since he hasn’t been here for years, Bailey doesn’t seem to know or care how offensive and upsetting it would be if green hearts and children’s artwork outside the nearest tube station to Grenfell, the site of our comnunity’s loss, were replaced by garish advertisement signs, billboards and disrespectful name changes. As it is, despite this leaflet/magazine being received right around the corner from Grenfell, there is no mention of Grenfell or any present day acknowledgment of his former community in it at all.

“You’re hired”? We wouldn’t hire Shaun Bailey to run a bath!

His wife Ellie Bailey isn’t standing of course, but obviously his party only just realised just how flimsy and daft Bailey’s supposed policies are, have given up and decided to desperately look for votes by going with the “nice guy” “family man” personality angle.

Just how “hugely passionate” about the environment is Shaun Bailey? His wife doesn’t say apart fron the obvious how bad London’s air is and neither does he. Nothing at all on a subject which many Londoners are genuinely ” passionate” about. .

As for Shaun Bailey in the classroom, it has been reported elsewhere that he was apparently described by a teacher as “gobby and dangerous” – make of that what you will….

Finally we get “9 Questions with Shaun Bailey” Disappointed THINKers saw no burning questions get put to Mr Bailey here, just silly small talk. We’re only surprised they didn’t ask him what his favourite biscuits were….

Also Ellie Bailey might want to send the makers of this leaflet/magazine back to school as they managed to get the year of the election wrong; it’s this year – the 6th of May in fact.

And no, we don’t think he will win.

We think that, with his constant gaffes like this recent one –https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/downing-street-refuses-to-say-stand-by-shaun-bailey-sarah-everard-comments-b923546.html which has appeared to alienate some of those on his own side, the absence of genuine policies and his lack of knowledge over most of the serious issues this city faces, that Shaun Bailey might struggle to scrape second place.

That phone sbop beckons……

Edenham proposals: Kim “Tailored-Sloth” gives THINK a telling off!

1

Following our last blog post on the subject of the Edenham Site, our Editor  received a  telling off  from RBKC Deputy Leader and Cabinet member for Grenfell and Housing over our comments on the posts regarding the way the council muddled social and affordable housing terms.

Here is that blog post again (complete with a proper explanation of the terms  Рreceived via Twitter from Joe Halewood of Speye Joe) :

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2021/02/19/edenham-trellick-tower-controversy-as-locals-and-campaigners-oppose-rbkc-new-homes/


This  is the particular part of  our blog post that Cllr Taylor-Smith took exception to:

“Thanks to Joe Halewood (who also writes the excellent Speye Joe blog¬†https://speyejoe2.wordpress.com/¬†) for the clarification. We never seem to get a straightforward answer from RBKC on this most of the time, and we think some at our council have been very misleading for referring to housing that most social housing residents and those on the waiting list will never be able to afford to live in. These councillors, suits and officers ‚Äď or rather liars ‚Äď who have mislead people ‚Äď ‚Äúsocial/affordable‚ÄĚ housing indeed ‚Äď ought to be deeply and thoroughly ashamed of their behaviour.”


Well we are sorry to have caused offence to Kim Taylor-Smith and we were not referring to him personally as a liar, but several of the council suits do keep using the misleading term¬† “social/affordable” – and muddling the two –¬† they’re not the same thing. Here is an exact example of what we mean; the RBKC website says: “The majority will be social rent (affordable housing for rent) “

Also some at RBKC do keep interchanging the two terms; again, misleading.

That is not exactly honest behaviour  as some of  what little support (only 35% of residents support the scheme) is based on the provision of  homes for SOCIAL RENT.

So we will not be removing the post; we stand by it and even if some of the council did not perhaps intend  to;   they have been in the act of misleading North Kensington residents about numbers of homes for social rent  on  the proposed  scheme.


Kim “Tailored Sloth” later told us that¬† using the terms together¬† simplifies things and makes it easier for people to understand. Well we beg to disagree – it confuses people.


So to  help clear up confusion , our  calculations show that only around   17.5% of the  homes on the  proposed site would in fact be for social rent


But of course, that is far from the only issue we have¬† with Edenham We are concerned¬† about the high volume of of homes crammed into what is already a very dense built up¬†¬† part of Golborne Ward, the area around there¬† (no thanks to Catalyst Housing and the Wornington Green regeneration) has aleady suffered from over-development and a huge loss of mature trees and green space,¬† some¬† residents are concerned about views of Erno Goldfinger’s¬† Trellick Tower being obscured, others are concerned about loss of light, and of course, the loss of¬† the outdoor space there is very little in the way of outdoor space around that area)¬† and world- famed graffiti area.


We invite our readers  who share some of these concerns, to join us in signing and sharing this petition: 

https://www.change.org/p/royal-borough-of-kensington-and-chelsea-council-protect-trellick-tower-s-art-and-outdoor-space-and-say-no-to-more-luxury-flats?redirect=false


We also¬†have¬† further ¬†concern over the types of homes that would be built on the site, as RBKC’s choice of architects¬†for the scheme are ¬† Haworth Tompkins.


This is the same ¬†Haworth Tompkins who¬† have been in the news for insisting¬† on social segregation in the form of “poor floors” on the tower they plan to build on the site of the former Wood Street Library in Walthamstow.

https://www.mylondon.news/news/north-london-news/walthamstow-tower-block-architect-insists-19871382


We say poor doors, poor floors and social segregation are not welcome,  and most certainly  are not  welcome in our wonderful, diverse community of North Kensington. If some stuck up people want to move here  but do not want to live next to people who just happen to be less well-off, we suggest these snobs go elsewhere.

 

As for building homes, yes – we¬† do get that there is a shortage of homes in the borough, and¬† we do¬† want to see more homes – especially homes for social rent which are in desperate short supply, but no –¬† not at any cost, and that cost being the deterioration of quality of life in the immediate community¬† and environment with people being packed¬†in like sardines.

 

Also the Edenham proposals to build a tower block right in front of another have ended up, as residents living close to Grenfell, giving us nightmares of North Kensington being filled with towers all over the place. Other locals have told us of similar experiences.

But despite a large majority of locals opposed to¬† this, RBKC seem¬† determined to push tbis¬†through and are going¬† to¬† hold more consultations….



Our local readers have until this coming  Friday the 25th of March,  to give feedback  to RBKC on the proposed scheme at this link :

https://consult.rbkc.gov.uk/communities/new-homes-delivery-programme-edenham-round-2/consultation/subpage.2021-02-08.2119162487/

Anyway¬† this pushiness from our council and their failure to listen to¬† how the majority of¬† community around Trellick Tower¬† really feel about not wanting the proposed development on the Edenham site¬† but instead pushing on regardless ¬† in the hope of talking people¬†who they think are not “getting it”¬† into this, reminded us of a certain sketch featuring the¬†¬† Ken & Kenneth “Suit You Sir” characters¬† from 90’s comedy classic The Fast Show.

We are in need of a laugh, so here is the video, and please, RBKC, Kim “Tailored Sloth” and suits, do not “press on” regardless. Residents are saying this development doesn’t “suit” them or the area. Instead, please¬† “press on” with looking at other sites – and perhaps¬† considering purchasing sites in other parts of the borough, rather than just filling every available¬† scrap of land in North Kensington with tower blocks.

“Wornington Greed” as catastrophic Catalyst ignores the community and cuts down pollution-absorbing trees

We’re so sorry to share the sad news that the Catalyst Housing chainsaws came to North Kensington last Monday and cut the majority of the mostly mature Wornington Green trees down.

Here is a video one of us took of locals and environmental campaigners out there:

These trees are irreplacecable and the devastion this has caused to the local environment is irreversible. The Wornington Green Estate (being renamed “Portobello Square” by Catalyst as there will hardly be any “green” left afterwards) community and the campaigners all asked Catalyst Housing to think again, to redraw their regeneration plans (approved by onw vote 10 years ago), all to no avail, as the greedy Housing Assoication’s number one priority is making money out of all the luxury flats they plan to build there and to hell with what the residents and community think or feel and the consequences of cutting down mature London plane trees which obsorb polltuion from the neighbouring Westway.

Here are some further pictures from Monday.

Here are scenes of the devastation later:

Catalyst Housing maintain the position that the trees will need to be cut down in order to build more badly needed homes. Well, let’s see about that shall we? Because with only TWO of the homes in the next phase being for social rent, here, despite their denials that these are luxury flats, are really what type of homes this supposed”social housing provider” will be building:

That’s right, in Catalyst’s own words; “luxury apartments”. As well as the moral issue of many of these supposedly much-needed homes across the road from where the reees were cut down last Monday remaining empty when we have a housing and homelessness crisis in London, particularly in this borough, there is also another moral issue in our view; and that is of that of the Association being in the act of ruining the local environment and public realm as well as the physical and mental health of residents in Golborne – RBKC’s poorest ward – in order to build them.

The video below is of when the first tree came down and so we will warn readers that this may be distressing for some to watch;

(Apologies for our appalling camerawork there but we were taking our morning exercise.)

Our blog has also heard further disturbing news and that is of plans to fell the mature trees in Athlone Gardens; we understand that the Catalyst chainsaws will be there either tomorrow or Wednesday.

This has been news to the residents and campaigners, but RBKC must have been fully aware of this – especially as Athlone Gardens is a public park managed by the council. THINK are emailing this blog post to both Cllr Johnny Thalassites, RBKC Lead Member for Planning, Place and the Environment, as well as to Cllr Emma Will, RBKC Lead Member for Community Safety, Culture and Leisure (parks, comminity gardens and open spaces are part of her brief) , so let’s see if we get any answers…

Here are some further questions that we hope both RBKC and Catalyst Housing will provide answers to:

– What are the total number of trees that have been felled in the first 9 years of regeneration?

– What types of trees were these?

– How many trees have been planted to replace the ones lost in the regeneration?

– What types of trees are the replacement trees?

– What is the calculation for the mitigation to offset any loss, and how long will it take?

– What are the projected impacts in our health and wellbeing in such a polluted area – is this planning impact legal?

Here is a reminder to both Catalyst Housing and RBKC; the community is watching you and we stand with the Wornington Green residents, we demand answers and better communications with locals on this, and our coverage of the effects on the local community and environment there will continue. After all, we are North Kensington residents too and we care deeply about this . While some of the officials don’t care and while others may turn a blind eye to what is happening , they do find it harder to ignore this when they receive further well-deserved bad publicity……

THINK will end this post with some beautiful pictures of the trees and a look back to when Wornington Green residents and the community enjoyed them and the benefits and beauty they brought to North Kensington.

Yet another RBKC inclusivity fail: This time a consultation on a new Housing Allocations policy

Dear oh dear. On the day right after when RBKC Deputy Leader Kim Taylor-Smith mentioned to one of us that our council was going to have a consultation on a new (about time!) Housing Allocations policy, a resident shared this letter with us , which shows that RBKC and consultants Newman Francis never intended to hold a wide, fair and proper consultation on such an important issue. Only a handful of our council housing residents actually received one of these letters:

We don’t think residents were randomly picked out of a hat, but what we do know is this was obviously not meant to be shared widely. THINK are guessing that the role of consultants Newman Francis in this is to use this initial consultation, picking out a “focus group” of some residents, so they can predict which views people will give and formulate a more general survey later this year to direct people towards certain responses that the council may prefer.

Too bad for RBKC that some of the residents who received such a letter believe that EVERYONE should have a fair say on this.

It also explains something about the layouts, formats and questions in a number of previous council consultation surveys.

Well we thoroughly disagree with this highly unfair and narrow approach to policymaking, and in the spirit of inclusivity we are sharing widely so ALL RBKC tenants and leaseholders can submit their views about what they think the changes to the Housing Allocations Scheme should be, if they want to, to Newman Francis at rbkc@newmanfrancis org

(There is also a telephone survey but we’re getting sick and tired of box ticking and we wouldn’t recommend it.)

But some residents may not want to take part, as we can also reveal a bit more about Newman Francis Ltd, marketing consultants specialising in housing and regeneration. Since 2013, supposedly “independent” Newman Francis have been hired by Catalyst Housing to get community support for the regeneration of the Wornington Green Estate in North Kensington. Catalyst and Newman Francis attemped to pull wool over people’s eyes, not everyone was fooled and the masterplan is still very controversial today, not least because 37 valued pollution-absorbing mature London plane trees are set to be cut down in order to build luxury flats.

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2021/01/12/wornington-green-catalyst-scheme-not-up-to-scratch-as-residents-and-councillors-hiss-about-loss-of-trees/

So this is perhaps a CONsultation exercise; conning people into thinking they are getting something good for them and their community when the opposite is the case.

We have this to say to Kim “Tailored Sloth” and Elizabeth “Dizzy Lizzy” Campbell:

All the nice little promises and warm words; about change at RBKC, about wanting greater resident involvement, co-designing, creating stronger communities etc. are about as reliable, accurate and trustworthy as a fake Rolex bought in a used car lot from a dodgy salesman.

You might as well drop the sales patter, because residents who truly care about our borough and communities, are certainly not buying it. Your actions and inactions speak volumes about how you REALLY work.

Wornington Green: Still green for now

This morning, Catalyst Housing were set to chop down 37 trees on the Wornington Green Estate in North Kensington.

Catalyst are not exactly the most considerate and thoughtful of housing associations, having completely ignored the calls from Wornington Green residents, other North Kensington locals and some of our local representatives to reconsider their plans and save the trees (most of which are mature pollution absorbing plane trees), and the housing association decided to turn up with their chainsaws this morning.

But Catalyst probably didn’t reckon on a big turnout of residents, locals and groups , including members of the Labour Party, local Golborne councillor and Leader of the RBKC Opposition, Pat Mason, members of the local Green Party and members of the Kensington branch of Extinction Rebellion, to all be taking their peaceful socially distanced morning exercise out there too.

After a stand off and the Police being called for no reason, “Catastrophic Housing” decided to clear off. The trees are still here.

We thank everyone who turned up this morning in support, and all who shared and posted on social media, including Cllr Pat Mason, Cllr Judith Blakeman and Green Party PPC for Cities of London and Westminster and London Assembly candidate, Zack Polanski.

We especially thank the local residents and campaigners who care deeply about the health and wellbeing of this community and conserving our environment, both now and for generations to come.

But callous Catalyst say they will be back to chop down the trees next week.

So we have this to say to them:

” As long as you refuse to listen to and respect the needs and wishes of your residents and the North Kensington community and as long as you pose a threat to our environment, and as long as you refuse to change your plans, this community will stand together against you.

The fact that lots of people turned out early in the cold, the petition to save the trees gained over 1,000 supporters in such a short space of time, and even the present RBKC Leadership do not support your destructive plans, all ought to be strong indicators that you need to think again.

Members of this blog had planned to be there this morning too, but only due to personal circumstances, we unfortunately couldn’t make it, but THINKers will be out there taking our morning exercise next week, when you have said you will return to chop down the trees.

Do not underestimate the power of community and how we feel about our environment, our trees and our green spaces here – they are invaluable to us – and mean far, far, more to the locals of North Kensington than your luxury flats ever will”

This isn’t over……

“Guilt by Association” #2: Catalyst Housing

Part 2 of our “Guilt by Association” series of posts on housing associations

Meet Ian McDermott, the Chief Executive of Catalyst Housing.

Catalyst Housing are one of the founder members of the G15 Group of housing associations and are responsible for over 32,000 homes.

They formed out of Kensington Housing Trust (once based locally, at Portobello Road), who merged with Ealing Family Housing Association and Northcote Housing Association.

In 2019, Hertfordshire-based Aldwyck Housing Group (which has homes in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire ) joined the Catalyst fold and Mr McDermott, from Aldwyck, took the top job.

Ian McDermott might have some 30 years or so in the business but as he may not be familiar with our local area. we’ll just alert him to how environmentally destructive his organisation’s regeneration at the Wornington Green Estate in North Kensington is, so here are our previous two posts about it:

Wornington Green: Green no longer? North Ken residents fight to save 42 trees

And

Wornington Green: Not up-to-scratch Catalyst scheme gets hissed at by residents and councillors

Yes, even the RBKC council Leadership disapproves of Catalyst chopping down so many trees

In fact a total of 167 mostly mature plane trees will be lost to the scheme.

We also wonder if Mr McDermott approves of his employees using misleading terms to describe Catalyst projects? Like this, (taken from the RBKC meeting) from Fearghal O’Hara, Regeneration Manager for Wornington Green and who is responsible for overseeing the new builds at Wornington Green
‚ÄúThere will be huge gains for the community aside from more modern homes as a result of this regeneration. There will be new community facilities, new public realm, and we‚Äôre creating a new green space in partnership with RBKC ‚Äď that‚Äôs Athlone Gardens‚ÄĚ

Oh dear. Replacing an existing green space – Athlone Gardens – with a smaller one isn’t really creating a new one is it ? Nor is replacing existing community facilities at the Venture Centure – “creating new community facilities”.

We’ll also go back to what RBKC Labour Cllr Judith Blakeman said at that RBKC Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting regarding courtyard gardens and the part of thr Silchester Estate that was redeveloped (no, not by Catalyst but it’s relevant): She ponted out that the courtyard at the Silchester does not get enough light, all the trees and plants die and residents there are left with a mud bath. Now we’ll point out that similarly sized courtyards, are what Caralyst plans to provide at Wornington Green and unlike the Silchester, these will be at basement level. Good luck growing anything there….

No doubt Mr O’Hara or another one of his colleagues will probably pop up to tell the Wonrington Green residents that they now have a mud wrestling facility for the community or something. It’s the sort of behaviour residents have come to expect from them – and none of this – is in any way, shape or form, any sort of replacement for the mature London plane trees which help fight pollution and mean so much to both the Wornington Green residents and their neighbours in the North Kensington area.

Today we have heard the news that heartless Catalyst Housing have shamefully disregarded the overwhelming views of residents and the local council and have told residents that they will cbop down 37 trees beginning next Monday, right in the midst of Covid -19 when residents are staying at home trying to get some peace and quiet.

Catalyst have won several awards before (actually we think the ritual back-slapping housing sector awards are a complete joke; our own failed defunct ALMO – the disgraced KCTMO has been the recipient of at least one in the past), so here’s another one to add to Catalyst’s collection that they really well and truly deserve:

For pretending that inferior replacements for a park and a community centre are additions, and for having the nerve to say this to people who live there; for assuming our residents are stupid by trying to placate them with darkened basement courtyards and a few saplings and making out that they are in any way an acceptable replacement for plane trees and a healthy outdoor communal green environment – we can only call what they have done and are still doing in North Kensington ecocide ; and for sticking two fingers up to their residents, our council, North Kensington and the environment in general, THINK proudly present “Callous Housing” with a Piglet-Pie Award – and here’s “Mr Shifty” O’Hara to collect it:

Catalyst Housing are in fact the very first housing association to win one of our not very coveted awards, tbough somehow we don’t think they’ll be boasting about tbis “accolade”….

Further afield, Catalyst have been a partner in the South Kilburn Regeneration. In 2019 , residents in Merle Court there (former lifetime tenants and leaseholders of Brent Council who were transferred to Catalyst under the regeneration) had to be moved because the flats were covered in ACM flammable Grenfell-type cladding.

This is what Inside Housing reported in May 2019 : “Residents are now in the process of being moved out, but the association has said there is no guarantee that they will be able to come back. As part of the outline agreement, Catalyst will have to pay compensation to residents and buy back the properties from shared owners ‚Äď something Mr McDermott says will cost the business ‚Äúa lot of money‚ÄĚ.

We think it is utterly disgraceful that this giant housing association supposedly worth ¬£3billion are punishing others for their mistakes and wouldn’t guarantee that all their residents would have a right to return back to their home and community after their ordeal.

But recent reports say that the association has been financially downgraded and as the association has homes all over London and the home counties so theoretically residents could end up anywhere – which could all be a very worrying prospect for Catalyst residents living in more expensive parts of our city who may have to be moved “decanted ” away from faulty properties ….

As for more controversy further out, we have heard that cash-strapped TfL are going into partnership with “Callous Housing” and are planning on building blocks of flats on suburban tube station car parks.

One planned scheme in Rayners Lane, Harrow, is for 126 homes on and around the site of the station car park

They haven’t just stopped there either, they are planning to stick 11 storey tower blocks containing 227 homes by Stanmore Station and 118 homes by Canons Park Station.

While more homes in London are needed, the levels of density, the loss of some trees and greenery – plus obvious beauty – in the areas and the effects on the communities there; are highly concerning, as are parking (in areas where many residents still are dependent on car use) along with the obvious vast increases of pollution and congestion these developments will bring .

Understandably most residents in all three of these locations are opposed to the plans and they have our support . Have a look at this :

Our blog has signed and shared the petition from the residents of High Worple Way to Harrow Council to stop the Rayners Lane development and we urge our readers to join us:

https://www.change.org/p/harrow-council-stop-building-140-flats-at-rayners-lane-car-park-which-is-already-an-overdevelopment-area

We think it is inappropriate and wrong to overdevelop green suburbs with tower blocks, packing in high density flats like sardines in such locations, and we warn the residents there, that if Harrow Council gives this and others the green light, there will be no stopping these schemes.

As for the Wornington Green masterplan in our local area , that was approved by RBKC 10 years ago. It wouldn’t be approved now ; but our council’s hands are tied and legally they have no power at all to halt it.

We were wondering if Catalyst have become less of a housing association and more of a property developer? Things are very cosy indeed between Catalyst and developers Taylor Wimpey – they are not only partners in several schemes , but In 2019, Rachael Dennis, Chief Operating Officer at Catalyst Housing , left to become Regional Managing Director at Taylor Wimpey. Richard Smith, Managing Director at Catalyst Housing since last year, was previously Development Director at Taylor Wimpey Central London.
Philip Jenkins, Group Development Director of Catalyst joined from Taylor Wimpey, Central London where he was Managing Director.

Some of our neighbours in Westminster may remember Philip Jenkins; before he was at Taylor Wimpey and Catalyst he was Executive Director, Property and Development at City West Homes between 2014-17.

City West was Wesminster Council’s troubled ALMO responsible for the management (or not) of its 21,000 or so council bomes¬† and was notorious for poor service, poor repairs and complaints and following concerns over poor performance over a number of years. It was taken back “in house ” in 2018, with Cllr Andrew Smith, Westminster’s Cabinet Member for Housing saying : ‚ÄúI believe there is no option now other than to bring the management of council housing under the council‚Äôs direct control. The opposition Labour Group of councillors in Westminster had kept extensive dossiers of residents’ complaints about the ALMO

https://www.hamhigh.co.uk/news/nightmare-stories-of-westminster-citywest-homes-problems-revealed-3584686

So, how do Catalyst residents rate the services they receive?

Not very bighly it appears. Here’s just a taster of the various negative reviews and postings we found:

Plus this from a former Catalyst employee which just about says it all;

We say Catalyst Housing are “guilty” of being destructive to the environment (not just in our community) , dishonesty, having extremely poor communications,poor repairs,poor standards of maintenance, poor responses to their residents and poor relations with the communities in which they intend to build their developments – shame on them.

Ian McDermott in interviews, seems to want to portray himself as a housing association “Mr Approachable Nice Guy” but the conduct of his association tells a very different story.

We warn other residents and local authorities who may be easily swayed when Catalyst comes promising redevelopments with affordable housing as the “cherry on top” ; their “affordable’ homes here start at ¬£600,000, relations between Catalyst and the community are at an all-time low and their redevelopment scheme in North Kensington has come at a price of environmental devastation , plus noise, nuisance, and misery for residents – which has gone on for the past decade and is only set to get worse .

Wornington Green: Not up-to-scratch Catalyst scheme gets hissed at by residents and councillors

Residents living on the Wornington Green Estate have been campaigning against plans by Catalyst Housing to chop down 42 trees – as we reported previously in this post:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2020/12/04/wornington-green-green-no-longer-north-ken-residents-fight-to-save-42-trees/

The Wornington Green redevelopment scheme had been given the green light (but only just, by a majority of one) by the RBKC Planning Committee back in 2010.

Over 1000 people – including 160 Wornington Green residents – have signed the petition to save the trees and to call for meaningful consultation over this. Catalyst Housing have said some of the trees will need to be removed in order to build new homes, but campaigners and North Kensington locals , including us, believe the trees to be crucial to the public realm and the environment and to the wellbeing of the local residents.

Aftter New Year, the trees are thankfully still here – well for now anyway.. Last month, some of the residents and campaigners addressed the RBKC Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Also there were a couple of representatives from Catalyst present. Here’s what happened:

Keith Stirling, resident of the Wornington Green Estate: “We are in-a very very precarious position In fact regarding the felling of trees, our oxygen and the Ozone Layer. Chopping down trees, doesn’t help. The people of Wornington Green and the wider area need their trees.” He pointed out that the area is deprived of trees and that London plane trees supply the most oxygen. He said that Athlone Gardens was being regenerated as well and that it was a perfect place to transplant the trees – he had looked into it.

Constantine Gras, multimedia community artist and campaigner, who started the petition : “I”ve just heard that Catalyst have been listening to residents – they’ve just posted a newsletter to us. I think they’ve revised their plans to fell 42 trees down to 37″ Well that’s a start….

Constantine said that the Royal Borough “from posh squares to green housing spaces loves its trees and looking at the trees and listening to the birdsong – more so now as we’re stuck at home under Covid-19 restrictions”.

He emphasised the environmental benefits of trees here: “Trees in North Kensington, they really are a matter of life and death – the carbon emissions here are among London’s highest. The RBKC air quality climate change action plan has reported that 7.6% of all deaths in the Royal Borough are attributed to air pollution. Green spaces and trees are vital for filtering out toxic particles, so every tree in the borough, especially these 50 year old mature London plane trees on Wornington Green Estate they will help the borough become carbon neutral in 2040; I believe that is a council commitment”

As a community artist who has worked on social housing estates in North Kensington, Constantine Gras knows that residents really value their trees and green spaces, so he was been shocked to hear over a month ago of Catalyst Housing’s plans to chop down the trees as part of the next phase of redevelopment and that most of the community were unaware of this. “There seemed to be no consultation on this – how is this possible in this day and age? It’s wrong on every level. Just imagine someone walking down Wornington Road and all of a sudden all the trees have been cut down. Is this the type of regeneration that creates a sustainable community? ”

Constantine had looked at the planning applications from Catalyst – about 20 of them, the most recent one was last October – all of which had a tree plan from 2009 attached, which had never been followed and was obviously out of date regarding the information contained – disgraceful.

He questioned the legality of the process as to whether the council would let development be carried out that wasn’t in accordance with the submitted plans and without updated environmental assesssments.

Residents had carried out their own assessments of how many trees had already been lost. In phases 1 and 2a of the redevelopment 55 trees were removed, 10 retained and just 27 new sapling trees were planted with only 8 in the public realm. For the whole of the redevelopment there will be a whopping 167 trees lost – mostly mature trees – and less than half of them will be replaced.

As we said before, we think that Catalyst are partly renaming the estate “Portobello Square” because there will likely be very little “green” left when they are done….

It was stated that as well as the impact of construction and demolition, there will also be new roads – which will increased traffic flow and will have a major environmental impact. Residents expect Catalyst Housing and RBKC to monitor measure and offset the carbon footprint of this redevelopment.

Constantine also pointed out that as Catalyst are worth around ¬£3 billion and half of the new homes are or will be for private sale, that it won’t put too much of a dent in their profits to build fewer private luxury flats. (prices start at ¬£600,000 for a 1 bedroom flat) and put their resources into building an innovative development around the trees. “Just who is benefiting from this regeneration? ”

Fearghal O’Hara from Catalyst Housing, who is a Regeneration Manager for Wornington Green and who is responsible for overseeing the new builds at Wornington Green, responded: “We understand the concerns about removal of trees. We understand that this is a concern at the moment when people are spending so much more time at home. around the local community appreciating the local green space.”

He said that Catalyst Housing try to avoid tree removal, and whenever they can, “buildings and streets are designed around trees” . Really? That’s not exactly reflected in the number of trees lost, from what Wornington Green and nearby residents tell us, or indeed viewed on our own visits to the estate…..

Mr O’Hara::”Unfortunately we do need to move trees in order to build more homes. We accept and share the view os the petitioners that there is a climate emergency. However, we also recognise that there is a growing demand for modern efficient housing in London and in this phase of development (2b), we are bulding 230 homes 108 of which are social rent homes.to energy efficient standards amd to reduce environmental impact” Sorry Mr O’Hara, but we’re far from convinced as to how large scale destruction of trees and greenery reduces environmental impact.

He went on: “There will be huge gains for the community aside from more modern homes as a result of this regeneration. There will be new community facilities, new public realm, and we’re creating a new green space in partnership with RBKC – that’s Athlone Gardens”

No, we cannot excuse this from Mr O’Hara, saying that Catalyst are creating community facilities, – they’re not; they’re replacing them. -. We think he has some downright nerve to say this to people who have been in or around the local area for years.

He did say that the regeneration since 2011 has brought an additional £1million to fund community development projects including services, jobs and training opportunities as well as after school clubs and funds for the Venture Centre.

Mr O’Hara said the tree plan had been agreed by RBKC in 2010 and as many new trees should be planted as possible and as many as possible should be retained. He said it would have been looked at carefully when the masterplan was designed.He said with regards to consultation, the masterplan was widely publicised at the time and while this was 10 years ago, the masterplan remains the blueprint for the regeneration and that subsequent planning permissions were given by RBKC in 2014, 2017 and 2019. Catalyst had according to him, held a number of events both online and in person and that the RSG – the Residents Steering Group that the housing association sees as integral to the project to represent to views of residents and helps to choose designs and recently helped with selecting a contractor and keeps the organisation close to comnunity opinion apparently.

He said that they were proposing to plant 16 additonal trees in the public realm, bring the total of new trees in the development to 69, but failed to say how many of the 69 trees would be in the public realm and how many would be plane trees

Cllr Johnny Thalassites Lead Member (cabinet] for Planning, Place and the Environment thanked Constantine for the petition and said: “We need to save as many trees as possible. I welcome the commitment to retain two additional trees and to plant some more. I’m grateful to Fearghal and his team for working with us on that, but I think the key thing I would say is that I knew from campaigns in my own ward saving trees in Holland Park Avenue just how emotive and valued trees can be in a community, and that they can be a real green lung for for a neighbourhood”

“So I really believe that we should work harder to protect the more of the trees. I tend to think we’ve not gone far enough yet, I think there’s work to do.”

He said that they needed to go further to work to saving the trees and implored Catalyst to keep wotking with council officers to save more of them and while more social housing provided was a good thing, he regretted the fact that the council could not do anything about the Planning decision made 10 years ago (before he was a councillor), he would want to retain the treet but his hands are tied as Catalyst has no legal compulsion to follow his directions.

“The mood in the council and the Leadership is certainly to protect community, to protect trees and to support local residents and in the north and across the borough.”

Cllr Marie-Therese Rossi (Conservative, Redcliffe) – and Chair of this very Committee asked Catalyst if there was any way that Catalyst could look at the plans again to try and save the trees.

Cllr Greg Hammond (Conservative, Courtfield Ward) asked for more clarity on the planning permission, as he understood that there was a time limit on planning permissions “Or is it because the development has already started planning permission is deemed to still be in existence because the building work was started?”

Martin Lomas Strategic developments Manager, RBKC Planning and Place; ” Planning permissions, effectively once they have been implemented, they exist in perpetuity and developing countries that planning permission out so when we grant planning permission they’re subject to a condition that requires them to commence within three years. But if they do commence within that time period, then effectively the permission is then available to the developer in perpetuity to carry out that development in accordance with that planning permission.”

Pat Mason (Labour,Golborne Ward) Leader of the RBKC Opposition is one of the local councillors for the estates and said he was there objecting at the Planning Committee 10 years ago and at the time the consultation was a “complete joke”

“Kensington Housing Trust that morphed into Catalyst had a history of having absolutely dreadful consultations that even the council at that time said were not sensible, were not representative of what residents think. I have the planning application in front of me as it happens . The planning application noted that there was a 540 signature petition against the application and there were 53, other main objections, including the local councillors, and these were on 40, different main points, and these included, the loss of trees, the removal of Athlone Gardens, because that was mentioned here, the road layout and speeding traffic”

He said that Lady Hanham, a former Leader of RBKC for 11 years, had objected to the scheme saying that ‘I’m voting against because I do not believe this application benefits the people of Wornington Green’ and we made a big fuss at the time about the fact that Athlone Gardens was going to be erased and replaced and it was going to take years and years for these trees to be knocked down, but the prevailing majority on the committee with the casting vote of the then Chair (former councillor Terence Buxton) voted for this, and we were horrified because you can’t cut down. nearly 100 trees, and not expect an environmental problem so I think they should redraw the masterplan”

He said the development was 60% private housing because Catalyst needs this to stand up financially: “It’s not about helping our people. Overwhelmingly we need social rent housing in Golborne, which is the poorest ward in England. We do not need more housing for the rich here”

“I think that they should redraw because they have a very unhappy community there, and very unhappy councillors, and they are adding to the desecration of the environment and I’m not persuaded by the soft platitudes of officers from Catalyst who are now speaking to me who were not there then. And who will be gone as soon as this development is built living up the mess that they created”.

Kim Taylor-Smith RBKC Deputy Leader and Lead (cabinet) member for Grenfell, Housing and Social Investment said he was grateful to Catalyst for looking again at the issue with the trees and also said that overall , the scheme provided more homes for social rent.

“The impacts in terms of obviously having improved housing and what that does in terms of the environment and I think we mustn’t forget that. We really are looking for as many socially rented homes as we possibly can. ”

He said he supported whar Cllr Thalassites was saying and that all of the trees should be looked at again and talked of the possibility of the borough “adopting ” the trees that cannot all go in Athlone Gardens and suggested that they could go in other parts of the borough.

David Lindsay (Conservative, Norland Ward) asked Catalyst to explain the nature of the consultations that Catalyst had with residents living in the area and nearby and to expand upon that because an observation of his, as a councillor was “when I have planning issues in my ward, typically, the person who is putting in the application testifies that they have given and spent a great amount of time, consulting with their neighbours when in actuality some neighbours don’t believe a word of it.”

Fearghal O’Hara responded by sauing thay Catalyst had been consulting with residents over the past few years and held numerous events, including a “Party in the Park” event at Athlone Gardens, where they presented their proposals for Phase 3. Catalyst had held many consultation meetings in relation to conservation and proposals on designs for Athlone Gardens which they had held in collaboration with RBKC. Catalyst hild monthly meetings with the RSG – Residents Steering Group- and he said they endeavour to keep the RSG abreast of upcoming proposals and actions. “In addition to that, personally I strive with my communications team to keep the locals updated as to what is happening in terms of construction and anything we believe will impact on the residents’ wellbeing.”

Cllr Lindsay asked residents if anything what Mr O’Hara had said then, bears any resemblance to their experience of consultations.

Keith Stirling:”I was a member of the steering group and have recently resigned over this business with the trees I was a member of that steering group for many, many years. And the consultations that passed, basically paying lip service to the residents on Wornington Green ” and that “Catalyst were going to do whatever they were going to do”.

Keith told the Committee that as far as the steering group went, it was around 4 to 5 people and didn’t really represent the whole of the estate. He had argued that more people should be involved with the RSG but that some did not want to belong to it as they didn’t belive what Catalyst was telling them. When he found out that Catalyst were going to chop down the trees, he was horrified and resigned because “I’m not going to sit in a room with people that are going to do this sort of damage to my environment”.

David Lindsay: “I think its abundantly clear that Catalyst have not taken their residents with them. ”

Cllr Rossi: “I agree. I think that the whole thing. You know it’s a 10 year old planning permission and that people are saying they only just found out in November, that this is is going to happen. In terms of communication, something has obviously gone very badly wrong”.

Cllr Janet Evans (Conservative, Courtfield Ward) said she thought what Kim Taylor-Smith had said on moving the trees elsewhere was a good idea as was concerned that if some were moved on site at this stage , they might not survive.

She asked Catalyst “How would you mitigate on the loss of the trees? Because people do need them, especially now. They need a psychological environment of beauty, and what can you give, in terms of a happy space?” And she asked Constantine if he would be happy with this.

Mr O’Hara replied that part of what Catalyst are proposing will be two blocls of flats surrounded by trees in the public realm and in addition to that, each block will have a courtyard, whereby residents on the blocks can look out upon gardens which are below ground level. He said that Catalyst see Athlone Gardens as a potential jewel in Wornington Green, “so at the end of the regeneration, it will be a green public space for all to enjoy”.

Constantine: “These trees are here, they’re Wornington Green trees, theu are quite fragile and precious, so I mean it’s a very last resort to contemplate doing that. I could imagine an environmentally sensitive architect who would be connected to the scheme could look at the plan. attempted to build the new blocks around the site of what’s here. So we have the ability of building, what’s here as a footprint, and that might give us the ability to try to build around the trees. Now, I don’t think it’s rocket science to look into that. I wish that was being explored. Just seems to be about, people often come into an area, developers, and they just want erase what’s there, and not take stock of the value of what’s there.”

Keith: “The green spaces on Wonington Green that we have at the moment are quite precious to us, we really do need them. Everybody on my estate here, we talk about it all the time, how how much we love those trees and how much we love the wildlife that lives in those trees.

He said it was a wonderful thing to get up in the morning and see birds and squirrels when you’re going to work. But they’ll all be gone and it will take away from out environment What are we doing? I remember there was a song about putting trees in a tree museum. Is that where we’re going? To pay to come and see trees?”

Cll Will Pascall (Conservative, Stanley Ward) and Chair of thr RBKC Environment Select Committee asked Catalyst specifically to follow up on what Kim Taylor-Smith had said, if they would he open to looking again at the trees that have to be cut down and seeing if there can be any modifications made to the design to allow some of them to stay and for others to be moved elsewhere locally He said that as London plane trees have specific benefits and these ones were old and magnificent. He spoke of planting the trees for the future and that several trees would need to be planted for each one taken down.

“Now, it seems to be in this situation there is no answer that will fulfill what Catalyst, want to do. What they’ve got planning permission to do on one hand, and what the residents, particularly the two people who brought this petition, have expressed on the other hand, that what Councillor Lindsay pointed out, is that what is missing from here is some kind of working together, and I think that what Councillor Kim Taylor Smith suggested was a very good suggestion towards that possibility. And my question is really as to whether Catalyst would be prepared to look at it seriously and to put some money behind it?”

Fearghal O’Hara: ” I have been working with a team of architects and landscape architects and structural engineers over the past months. We are not just brushing the concern aside and we have investigated the layout of the buildings and of the public ground, but the problem is these trees were planted with the layout of the estate” He said it’s almost impossible to build the buildings in the same layout and build around the trees. He said they do recognise the benefits of London plane trees and they are proposing to plant some on the scheme.

Cllr Pascall then re-asked part of his question ” part of the question which I don’t feel has been answered” regarding are Catalyst prepared to take on board what Kim Taylor-Smith said and look at the trees and which ones can move moved locally and which ones cannot, if and if they cannot, can be moved elsewhere in the borough and for additional extra mature plane trees to be planted in addition to what has been reported and on top of that engaging with borough officers and residents and to put some money behind it.

Mr O’Hara replied that it was subject to approval within the various departments at RBKC….

Cllr Pascall:”.and to plant some new ones”

Mr O’Hara said that Catalyst feel that they are at capacity with planting additional new trees on the street because root systems, plus the daylight issues that additional trees may create could become a factor.

Cllr Pascall: “So you’re prepared to look at it, the question is are you prepared to look at it with the borough officers and residents because as Councillor Lindsay said one of the key components here is a meaningful consultation with local residents. On this particular issue that does not seem to be a meeting of minds”

Cllr Max Chauhan (Conservative, Queens Gate Ward ) asked Mr O’Hara why only 3 trees when the company spoke to specialist contractors “it was put in section 3.16 that this is being explored, implying it hasn’t been explored. Can we see more exploration and see if these trees can be identified to transport to Athlone Gardens or adopt in the wider borough”

Mr O’Hara said that Catalyst would be prepared to explore that further.

Cllr Judith Blakeman (Labour, Notting Dale Ward) :”We heard today that the regulator of social housing has just downgraded Catalyst’s financial position. So I am concerned that we have no guarantee either that this development will ever finish, because it’s already been delayed,- all that after the trees have been destroyed. This destruction of trees goes against all the council’s new policies.”

Christine Dingle, Wornington Green resident: “I think everything needs to be relooked at, reassessed and replanned., and I think it’s just so devastating and upsetting to think about, cutting the trees down, and all that time to grow, and are part of our lives”.

Abbas Dadou, Notting Dale resident, Cahir of Lancaster West Residents Association said that the community was being treated as a commodity “these people, they come and buuld and they go” He had issues with the planning department “you know, you people are supposed to be our guardians” referring to 200 square metres of green space in Lancaster West Estate, he said that planning officers and an architect had referred to it as a “useless bit of green” “We have 4 beuatiful palm trees there. For over 20 years , that green space is very important to us and they want to build a nursery beteeen two blocks forcing in a building, and leaving 4 metre gaps. So I can understand and I feel their pain . These companies who make huge money at the expense of the community who has been through a lot since 2017”

Isis Amlak, resident Norland Ward and community campaigner : “The plan to me does not seem that it’s any longer fit for purpose. 2010 was a long time ago and as we all know, one of the things that the Grenfell Tower atrocity has shown us is that it’s vital that communities are listened to. And I believe there is a commitment from the council, that we would do things differently, , and that going forward, the voice of residents, particularly in the north of the borough would be heard, far more loudly. ”

Isis said she lived in a part of North Kensington that was abundant in greenery, but when you head further north, particularly in Golborne, there is a lack of trees and a lack of green space.

She mentioned toxicity in the environment, found in the soil after Grenfell, and that the trees are vital to removing pollution and they provide so many environmental benefits besides such as helping to avert the risk of flooding. The trees also bring psychological benefits – “it’s just more beautiful with trees” and she said that ” a clever committed architect will find a way to build around the trees and incorporate them into modern building designs.”

Isis also had tbis to ask Catalyst: “How have you taken the impact of the Grenfell Tower atrocity and all the multiplicity of issues that is caused into consideration in your plans? Can you evidence that because I’m horrified to think that this plan went through 10 years ago, Grenfell happened three years ago, and no one sat down at Catalyst and reconsidered how they’re going forward.”

Feaghal O’Hara said Catalyst now recognise the sensitivities in North Kensington, especially since the Grenfell tragedy ( meaning they didn’t recognise them before?) and that’s why they were committed to keeping residents informed and involved.

Judith Blakeman: “Keeping residents informed is not engaging with the residents and you don’t have to live there afterwards, after you’ve chopped down the trees. We have a salutory example on the Silchester Estate, where they put small trees in a courtyard as you said, and none of them flourished because of the lack of light. They’ve now got a mud patch. ”

Pat Mason: “Residents are just being palmed off with platitudes and you think we are stupid, you think our residents are stupid. You think they have nothing in their heads now that can’t be palmed off with any old story,

That’s what the residents said 10 years ago. That’s what they’re saying now. Councillor Blakeman is right, being informed what’s going to happen is not consultation and that’s what has happened

You will be gone just in a couple of years, leaving us with the mess behind, environmental mess, trees cut down, you move on to some other project, we hear this and that, we hear these stories all the time from people like you in five years time, you won’t be here, you will not be here, you will leave us with the mess you’ll leave the council with the mess”

Maybe Catalyst had expected an easy ride from the council that once approved their scheme? They certainly did not get one and finally, Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee Cllr Marie-Therese Rossi (who has gone up tremendously in our estimation) , got her claws out and said this: “To sum up, I have something to say to Catalyst. Something has gone very badly wrong here. You’ve got a planning permission, which by the sound of it, you got by the skin of your teeth, 10 years ago. You have not been engaging with the residents. And something I learnt a long time ago. I used to work with the urban regeneration agency and rule number 1 for regeneration is that you don’t impose it. It’s got to be bottom up. You have got to take people with you. And it really seems in this instance that that is not happening.”

“So I would urge you Catalyst to go and look at your plans again and just see by building a few less houses or flats that you can actually save some of those trees. Because that is what the residents want, and as they have said, they are the ones who have to live there for years to come.

And Catalyst cannot just dump a project on residents and expect them to be happy about it because they would like to keep their trees. My sympathies are with the residents. I would urge you, Catalyst to look again, because it can’t be right, this level of protest against what you are doing and that you have not engaged with people down the years.”

THINK’s view

So, it appears that quite a few of our councillors do not think the Wornington Green masterplan is the “cat’s whiskers” and neither do we

As a supposed charitable housing provider with local roots , Catalyst really ought to be caring more about this community and .their social housing residents. Instead these residents are, in the words of one of them who spoke to us, , “treated as an afterthought by Catalyst and in the way of the luxury flats” .

It’s all very well to build homes, but residents in the area deserve to feel comfortable and happy in their homes , and to look out of their windows or step outside and see trees. and wildlife, and not just see grey buildings and roads.Residents’ health will suffer as a result of this scheme, with more pollution, extra roads and far fewer trees,

This blog also has to tell Catalyst that if their plans lead to the immediate area lacking in trees, greenery, playspace and beauty , it might not attract the sort of buyers that would want to live there to set up home and to be part of the local community and instead would appeal more to buy to leave investors only interested in the high land value and lessen the close knit friendly community feel in the area.

This, along with less trees, green space and playspace would give the neighbourhood more of a transient, and less of a green, pleasant, neighbourly and welcoming aspect and would also likely bring an increase in antisocial behaviour and crime

We do take some encouragement from the responses of RBKC now (a huge difference from when the plans got through) We thank Johnny Thalassites in particular.

While we think the climbdown from Catalyst over the fate of 5 of the trees is a bit of good news, their whole conduct over this has been deplorable.

We too say they need to revisit their plans and not just plough ahead regardless and not put hefty profits above the health and wellbeing and needs of the local community. We also suggest that Catalyst looks into providing more additional green amenities, such as roof gardens for the residents , which would make the developments more pleasant and attractive for all residents – those in social housing, and also prospective buyers looking to set up home in North Kensington and be part of the local community rather than absentee investors whose main interests are in the land value (land banking) .

Listening learning and understanding the needs of the residents and community is key, but Catalyst do not seem to care, Another Wornington Green resident said this to us: ” Catalyst could use this as an opportunity to show they are adaptable and change and adapt their masterplan to fit the 21st century. They could listen to residents, work with an imaginative environmentally friendly architect and create a beautiful innovative redevelopment that works around the trees we love and need.

This blog thanks all the inspirational residents and campaigners who are pushing for a better, healthier and considerably more environmentally friendly way forward for all.

We will leave our readers with some essential viewing – this link (which also links to some of Constantine’s other work) – a video of the brilliant “Wornington Word” film, a wonderful, but also bittersweet documentary showing residents from the Wornington Green Estate, their personal views, memories and experiences of the estate and the regeneration. We strongly recommend that our councillors and suits – and especially the officers, suits and directors at Catalyst Housing, watch this too;

https://www.grasart.com/film.html

Wornington Green: Green no longer? North Ken residents fight to save 42 trees

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year? Not for many North Kensington residents, especially those living around Wornington Green and nearby it won’t likely be.

That’s because Catalyst Housing Association who are regenerating Wornington Green plan to chop down 42 trees.

Catalyst apparently say they can’t make changes to the plans to save the trees – Really? Can’t or won’t ? Because they they also say they will plant 55 new trees – but actually only 11 of these trees will be in public areas. Most of the trees will be small sapling trees planted in private gardens for the newcomers buying the luxury unaffordable flats that Catalyst are still building in the area, which also happens to be in Golborne Ward , the ward in RBKC with the highest levels of social deprivation.

This is also located in a part of North Kensington right by the polluted Westway, and where the vast majority of residents do not have a garden and which has very few communal green spaces.

The area has been a “building site” with noise, nuisance and disturbance for many residents round there for a number of years , and we worry about the effects on peoples’ mental and physical wellbeing, especially in these bleak times, and even more so now.

A local resident there said to us “They are set to chop down these trees immediately – before Christmas – leaving us with stumps to look at. Why do they have to do this? Where will our local wildlife go? How will this affect our oxygen? ”

Well no prizes for guessing why Catalyst are changing the name of the estate from “Wornington Green” to “Portobello Square” then; because there won’t be very much “green” left when their chainsaws and bulldozers are done.

THINKers are appalled by this and we fully support the local community in their campaign to save the trees and protect the area and community. We urge all our readers to join us and sign and share their petition to get RBKC to put a stop to this:

https://www.change.org/p/royal-borough-of-kensington-and-chelsea-save-wornington-green-estate-trees?recruiter=1005772075&utm_source=share_petition&utm_campaign=psf_combo_share_abi&utm_medium=whatsapp&recruited_by_id=bbcb4ab0-dc1f-11e9-811a-1951335c9ae0

This week has been National Tree Week, and on Wednesday, residents presented the petition to officials at Kensington Town Hall.

It’s supposed to be the season of goodwill, but it appears that the only goodwill greedy Catalyst Housing seem to have, is towards the wealthy newbies and investors buying up the luxury flats and giving their Execs a big fat Christmas bonus of profit – at a real cost to the health and welbeing of locals – we say shame on this supposed “charitable” housing association.

Here is the video of North Kensington locals protesting in Wornington Green last week:

The Wornington Word: Online screening of the film tomorrow, plus Q & A

Residents Vanessa (top), Betty (bottom left) and Cheryl (bottom right). Photography by Kevin Percival

The Wornington Word: A People’s History of The Wornington Green Estate W10 was a year long project collection of oral histories from residents of the Wornington Green Estate in North Kensington , funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and run by Renegade Theatre (residents of Wornington Green), in partnership with the Venture Community Association.

Check out the website to read more on the project and the Wornington Green Estate, see photos and listen to some of the voices of the local community :

https://worningtonword.renegadetheatre.co.uk/

Constantine Gras & Natasha Langridge at the Portobello Film Festival

The 41 minute documentary premiered on the 9th of September at the Portobello Film Festival and won the Award for Best UK Docomentary – we send our congratulations to everyone who took part.

As tickets at Portobello Film Festival were limited due to Covid-19, many of us missed the opportunity to see the film in full. But we have some exciting news to share with our readers……

Tomorrow, Friday the 2nd of October at 7pm, there will be an online screening of the film plus Q & A.

To watch the film and take part in the Q & A, register here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-wornington-word-film-screening-and-qa-tickets-122989205023

The Wornington Green Estate has been and still is undergoing regeneration into “Portobello Square” for a number of years. See the links below for more on regeneration, the Estate and North Kensington:

https://www.ft.com/content/fb9d61ee-60a9-11e7-8814-0ac7eb84e5f1

https://estatewatch.london/estates/kensingtonandchelsea/wornington/

Here are a few brief “Wornington Words” from THINK: ” This is special to us, not just because we love our local North Kensington, area, community and social history, because we are interested in housing or because some of the people involved are friends (though all matter greatly to us of course!), but also because our Editor on first moving into North Kensington, lived over the road (the Portobello Road side of Oxford Gardens) right around the corner from the Wornington Green Estate – it was part of her neighbourhood – at the time the regenerations was taking place and so viewed what was happening very close to home. Listening to the residents’ voices was a very moving experience – fondness for the Wornington Green Estate and its residents, memories of living near there, mixed emotions over the regeneration and also just enjoying listening to members of the local community share their own stories, memories and views.

As some who regularly read our blog will know, we have not had the most postive views on this regeneration (we are sad to see residents and local businesses gone or going, we will miss parts of the old estate, and we have been concerned about the locality there turning into unaffordable flats owned hy investor absentee landlords) – we do remain hopeful that the community around there will remain strong – this is North Kensington after all.”

We highly recommend the Wornington Word to everyone and we thank Natasha, Constantine, Hannah, Micky and all the residents who took part.

We wll leave the final Wornington Word here to resident, playwright, actress and friend of THINK, Natasha Langridge:

Natasha Langridge

“I had no idea what sort of characterful, close, and diverse community I was moving into when I heaved my belongings into 8 Wheatstone House Telford Rd W10. Or that a few years later I would be running an oral history project called The Wornington Word.

It was 2014 and a new beginning for me. After joining St Marks housing co-operative, a space became available in a house on the edge of the Wornington Green Estate. Perfect. A couple of clean rooms. Lots of shelves and cupboards. That would do me.

Over the years I’d had many a Carnival and many a good night in Portobello. But now I didn’t know anyone in the area. I found solace in the voices that floated up from the park beneath my window. I say a park. Athlone Gardens was a quarter of the size it had been in its heyday. It was a building site by the time I got here. But there was an expanse of green and the locals were still walking their dogs and meeting for lunch and I got to know them all. And the trees. I formed a friendship with the cherry blossom tree just below my window.

After six months of living here, the developers moved into the rest of the park with their digging machines. I watched them cut down eight trees. My cherry tree was ripped from the earth. Flung on the rubble. I was distraught as I saw the dog walkers and Moroccan men trying to carry on as normal amongst the stumps and boarded up landscape. But carry on living and chatting they did. It was then than I really began to understand what resilience and regeneration meant.

My one woman show, In Memory of Leaves, was born. I was compelled to write a monologue about my cherry tree and the park’s people. I performed it in an outside space at the back of Murchison House and later in Rome and on a tour of London canals. on a wide beam barge. During those first performances, in a small concrete circle surrounded by tall lush trees at the back of Murchison, I started putting faces to the voices in the park and learning the history of the estate. I had to capture these unique working class voices. So that, after the buildings are demolished, the people will still be heard.

David “Lunch” Lunts, the Mr Creosote of the GLA

Part 2 of our “London Trilogy”

David Lunts is the interim head of paid service and the executive director of housing and land at the GLA. He really should be called “David Lunch” because he does appear to spend rather a lot of his time having lunches and dinners with property lobbyists and developers.

A look through the register of gifts and hospitality shows that he he has had engagements with Peter Bingle and Terrapin Communications five times, Savills four times, Berkeley Homes four times, VIP dinner with Knight Dragon, lunch with the Manor House Development trust (social cleansing in North London), lunch and dinner with Lovells five times and – oh we could be here all day – have a look here:

https://www.london.gov.uk/about-us/governance-and-spending/good-governance/our-corporate-management-team/david-lunts/gifts-hospitality

Also three engagements with Pocket Living – who are clients of Cratus:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/09/06/cratus-communications-creeping-out-from-under-the-curtains/

Perhaps when Mr Lunts is knocking back the Ch√Ęteau Lafite with Pinnacle over lunch he might want to see this from the Grenfell Action Group (which was reposted on THINK with their kind permission) :

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/03/28/grenfell-action-group-post-lying-down-with-dogs-rbkc-and-pinnacle-housing/

Or perhaps he might care to know that Pinnacle are the useless RBKC contractors responsible for out of hours services at nights, weekends and holiday times who left residents of Dixon House in North Kensington stuck in a 20 storey block of flats (around the corner from Grenfell) with no working lifts back in March?

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/03/02/down-the-road-from-grenfell-lifts-in-20-storey-tower-block-not-working/

David Lunch also dines with Rydon who were, of course, the contractors involved with the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower and we all know what happened there…..

David Lunch also has visited MIPIM, the luxury property fair in Cannes (of course!)

He must be absolutely stuffed- pass the brown envelopes and wafer-thin mints!

In May this year Lunts also had dinner with the Urban Redevelopment Authority from Singapore provided by LendLease THINK believe that if his priorities are for investment for the citizens of Singapore, instead of the needs of Londoners then he should go and live and work there.

He has dined with many housing associations too, including L & Q, Notting Hill Genesis, Peabody, Circle, One Housing and notably Catalyst who were partners in the regeneration of Wornington Green in North Kensington (now known as “Portobello Square”) . Here is a picture of Lunts from the Catalyst promotional video;

We will not post the Catalyst video on here as it is full of Piglet-Pies.

Instead, we will share some posts from our Labour MP for Kensington and local Golborne councillor Emma Dent Coad’s blog when she was documenting the regeneration at the time:

http://emmadentcoad.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-sheet-of-shame-wornington-green.html?m=1

http://emmadentcoad.blogspot.com/2017/01/and-filthy-new-year-from-catalyst.html?m=1

http://emmadentcoad.blogspot.com/2017/03/catalyst-housing-development-portobello.html?m=1

Anyway, THINK are surprised to see that after all those lunches and dinners, David “Lunch” isn’t actually the size of a house by now – but we are also not surprised to see the GLA doing next to nothing to make sure that Londoners can have more and better social and genuinely affordable housing provided in their localities. In fact it appears to us that some at the GLA, just like some councils and councillors, appear to be complicit in the destruction of communities in many parts of our city – shame on them.

In support of our MP Emma Dent Coad

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Regular readers of our blog will know that we at THINK are proud supporters of our Labour MP for Kensington, Emma Dent Coad.

Emma has been through a lot as an MP, with the Grenfell Tower fire disaster occurring just four days after she was elected, harassment from deranged people including death threats and an attempted assault by a disturbed individual at a local public event and yet she has still found the time and strength to help out her constituents with all the difficult issues many face (especially after Grenfell) and attend many community events and meetings.

Recently, certain Tories and some right wing journalists appear to have orchestrated what amounts to a smear campaign against Emma, even stooping as low as to accuse her of racial slurs (see our previous Shaun Bailey post).

THINK strongly disagree with the recent criticisms of Emma and we have decided to take some of her detractors to task and examine some of her critics and their criticisms rather more closely……

So let’s start with yesterday’s onslaught in an article in the Daily Telegraph here:

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/11/27/emma-dent-coad-criticised-sexism-sharing-post-calling-theresa/amp/

If anyone looks at the Tweet that she responded to, they can see that Emma didn’t in fact call anyone “ugly”. The Tweet that quoted Roald Dahl’s The Twits In fact refers to ugliness in a person’s attitude. But some clearly do not bother to read something properly and take in the full meaning of it before posting their 10 cents worth online…..

But it appears that some Tory MPs have been briefed by the whips office to all jump in and have a go. We decided to have a closer look at one of them here:

Yes this is Hugo Swire, Conservative MP for East Devon who voted against raising welfare benefits in line with prices, voted against paying higher benefits to the sick and disabled and voted for reductions in housing benefit – yet thinks that it is perfectly acceptable to claim over ¬£100,000 a year in expenses on top of his ¬£74,962 MPs’ salary!

A blog local to Mr Swire’s constituency, The Real Zorro, had something to say about this:

http://realzorro1.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/what-hugo-swire-costs-claims-from.html?m=1

And here’s another critic, step forward Brandon Lewis, Tory MP for Great Yarmouth:

Oh wait a minute, isn’t this the same Brandon Lewis, former housing minister, who was against including sprinklers and extra fire safety regulations because he thought it would discourage housebuilding? Why yes!

Perhaps if some really are interested in what Emma Dent Coad has to say and to see what she is doing they might care to discuss some of the issues such as social housing, that Emma has been a long time campaigner on, but we know the Conservatives, particularly in Kensington and Chelsea have a truly shameful record on the subject. Let us remind them that this community in particular, is far more interested in what our public representatives have to say about the genuinely serious issues.

Maybe if some really want to drag up old blog posts written by Emma Dent Coad, they can look at this one on Kensal Town in Emma’s Golborne Ward :

http://emmadentcoad.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/the-battle-for-kensal-town-stark.html?m=1

Or maybe this one about redevelopment of the Wornington Green Estate:

http://emmadentcoad.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/anti-social-landlords-portobello-square.html?m=1

Maybe some of the Tories would like to read these and answer the points that Emma makes? She is a long time campaigner for social justice and housing in the community and one of the very reasons she is very popular in North Kensington is because she has highlighted much of what has gone wrong in RBKC over many years. Some really should actually take a look at her council career and the issues she has campaigned on before they embark on such a ludicrous smear campaign.

We note the complete absence of Conservatives commenting on the issue of social housing in RBKC – a matter that has become more important than ever when many Grenfell survivors and residents of neighbouring blocks are still living in hotels. The Tories do appear keen to take the real focus on the important issues away from the spotlight – but as we know, that is because most of the blame for this dire situation lies firmly at their door, which is why they are so silent with regards to having a genuine debate and discussing solutions.

We will also mention that the Rotten Tory Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has built just 10 social housing properties in the last 28 years – where is the media storm over that? – then maybe some of them can go on social media and try to make their excuses but we doubt it.

THINK believe that what Emma has to say about the social issues in North Kensington deserves far more media attention than an off the cuff joke about Prince Harry or an irreverent Tweet. It says a lot if the Tories’ sense of priorities if they are more interested in these than in the really serious issues in North Kensington that we reaidents living under the shadow of Grenfell have to face.