Jenny Jones, a London Assembly member for the far left Green Party, visited the West Kensington estate this week in my borough. A home owner in a smart residence in Camberwell she declared that there was no need for estate redevelopment of the "useful" tower blocks – by which she means they are good enough for other people to live in.
She talks about the opposition of residents to estate redevelopment – but the leading opponent is an unpleasant individual called Jonathan Rosenberg who lives in Westminster ("hothead" is how his friends describe him.) His agressive scare mongering is not motivated by concern for the welfare of residents.
The irony is that the proposed estate redevelopment should be welcomed by the Green Party if they were to consider it in objective environmental terms rather than through political prejudice.
The Earls Court proposals include 23.5 acres of public open space, including the five acre Lost River Park.
Capco and its partners have a strategy for a ‘very low carbon’ footprint for Earls Court. The housing currently on site at Earls Court will be replaced with a more coherent, planned layout, with a massing and form and at densities exhibited by 21st century cities; accordingly many more people will live on less land (but at proven liveable and enjoyable density – per LBK&C, Belgravia, Pimlico, Westminster, Islington, Paris, Central Copenhagen, Stockholm etc…), the buildings and infrastructure will be super-efficient.
The mix of local activities and land uses which the plan provides for will reduce the need to travel and proximity of public transport nodes and routes mean that the carbon emitted in travel will be less. The new High Street opens up an accessible new route for people living at the western edge of the land to Earls Court underground station.
The developers have demonstrated that a CCHP powered heat network is viable with the larger scheme and will reduce regulated emissions by 40% for thousands of new residents; this would be much more difficult to afford and implement without the area—wide approach to place-making adopted for Earls Court.
Furthermore a series of other measures are being introduced to provide a "culture of living sustainably" on the proposed develoment to achieve the deeper cuts in carbon footprint. They include a walking plan (with companion designs), bike culture (companion designs), electric charging for vehicles, food culture (promoting local markets and local food production) and abundant greenery.
Car clubs will be promoted and there wll be a financial contribution to improve public transport to reduce pollution.
The buildings will have energy efficient light fittings and lighting controls, heat and rainwater recovery systems, solar photo voltaic panels on roofs to produce hot water and smart metering.
Collectively and over time when these actions are taken Earls Court will be the lowest carbon place in London and arguably among the lowest in the developed world (Scandinavia included) even as many more thousands of people are housed and jobs accommodated.
In opposing this exceptionally green scheme are the Green Party merely ignorant? Blinded by anti capitalist ideology? Or guilty of the most shameless political opportunism?