Following pressure from local residents and Churchill Ward Labour Councillors, Grosvenor Group and Westminster City Council have announced that tenants in Walden House – a block of 40 council homes set for demolition as part of Grosvenor’s ‘Cundy Street Quarter’ development – will now have the right to return to the new social housing being built on the site.
141 Walden House residents – some of whom are children, and some disabled – are affected by Grosvenor’s current plans to demolish their building when the Council’s lease expires in 2023. In addition, the 111 neighbouring Cundy Street Flats are also set for demolition in 2021 as part of the same scheme. Both blocks are home to long-term settled communities of residents and families, some who have lived there for 20, 30, 40 or more years.
Grosvenor’s change of heart is undoubtedly due in part to the residents’ campaign to save their homes – a campaign which Churchill Ward Labour Councillors Shamim Talukder and Andrea Mann supported from the very beginning. Over 108,000 people, from all over the country, have so far signed the residents’ petition on Change.org – and the campaign has garnered national press coverage in newspapers like the Sunday Mirror, Daily Mail and The Sun, as well as reports on ITV News and BBC London News.
While Churchill Labour Councillors welcome Grosvenor’s move, however, the developer is yet to offer the same right to return to its own tenants in Cundy Street Flats. Churchill Labour Councillors will continue to speak up for these residents and urge Grosvenor to find a solution for them rather than see this community displaced.
Churchill Labour Councillors will also facilitate meetings between Grosvenor and the affected residents. If demolition still goes ahead, they will also insist that as much social and affordable housing as possible is built on the new development.
Councillor Andrea Mann said:
“We welcome the news that Grosvenor and Westminster Council have finally listened to residents and done the right thing by offering Walden House tenants the right to return.
We only wish that the Council had worked to put this guarantee in place from the start. Instead, residents have had months of untold stress and worry at the prospect of having to uproot their lives to a different part of London and leave their beloved tight-knit community.
We hope that lessons have been learned by Westminster Council and Grosvenor, and that both will be more thoughtful in any similar situation in the future.
We also hope that Grosvenor will now do the right thing by the Cundy Flats residents who are currently set to lose their homes, too.”
Councillor Shamim Talukder said:
“This is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t go far enough.
We still think this development should not go ahead – not least because Grosvenor has not provided a similar right to return to their Cundy Street Flats tenants. In addition, Cundy Street Flats are beautiful buildings in good condition – home to a closely knit community. We and local residents do not want to see these homes demolished and this very special community displaced.
Throughout this process we will continue to apply pressure on Grosvenor and Westminster Council to do the right thing, to facilitate dialogue between them and residents, and to speak up for the local community we are proud to represent.”