Residents Forced to Move Out of Condemned Fulham Tower Blocks

Compulsory purchase orders needed as some refuse to go

John And Pat Bownes at their flat in Lannoy Point, Fulham. Picture: Owen Sheppard

Residents in two tower blocks that were condemned for demolition have spoken of their sadness at having to move out of Fulham to find a new home.

For those who bought their flats in the 14-storey Hartopp and Lannoy Points, staying in Fulham, which has become ever more affluent, is proving difficult to afford.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council is offering these families sums of more than £400,000 for their flats, which will soon be demolished due to structural problems.

John Bownes, 73, has lived with his wife, Pat, for 40 years in Lannoy Point, one of two concrete towers on the Aintree estate in Dawes Road.

They will instead move six miles further south west, to Isleworth.

“We couldn’t get anything in Fulham or around here. You need at least £600,000 for anything decent,” said Mr Bownes, a former Audi garage mechanic.

“Everywhere else would have needed some work.

“A lot of people don’t want to leave, because this place is special. I don’t want to leave.

“And these flats are nice and spacious. Most flats these days are built much smaller. And if you’re being forced to leave somewhere you love, you want somewhere nice.

“I’ll never have a view of the Shard or over Chelsea Harbour again. It’s a shame.”

Hartopp Point (left) and Lannoy Point (right) in Fulham. Picture: Owen Sheppard

He said they were offered about £420,000, including a £16,000 payment for the disturbance.

Of the 112 flats, 56 are now empty, with tenants being offered new council homes.

But then there’s the leaseholders who have refused the council’s offers, claiming the compensation is too little.

On Monday, September 2, the council confirmed plans to forcibly purchase those leaseholders’ flats, using a compulsory purchase order (CPO).

A council report said that out of 21 homeowners, nine have settled up and agreed to leave. The remaining 12 ― including buy-to-let landlords who live outside the area ― now face a CPO, which could take 18 months to decide, and must be signed off by the Government.

The council has budgeted £10.6 million, including legal fees, for the CPO buy-outs of these 12 flats.

The report said this is vital, as the towers can’t be demolished until all the landlords have gone and the towers are empty.

Another report published in April, when the decision to demolish was taken, said refurbishing the towers would cost £16.5 million. Demolishing and building new homes, in partnership with a third party provider, would cost the council £8.7 million.

The two towers suffer from damp and water ingress. But their demolition is urgent due to their unusual design.

They are built from concrete panels that, over decades, can become loose and unstable, and vulnerable to collapse in a domino-effect if badly damaged.

The new report said: “They were built using a construction method called a large panel system (LPS). This was the same construction method used at Ronan Point, Newham when in 1968 a gas explosion caused the collapse of the building and resulted in four deaths.

“Arup [structural engineers] undertook intrusive surveys to nine flats across the two buildings. Their survey… confirmed the test results regarding disproportionate collapse.

“It recommends Hartopp and Lannoy Points are ‘demolished or strengthened as soon as reasonably practicable’.”

A Hammersmith and Fulham Council spokesman said: “The decision to demolish Hartopp and Lannoy Points was taken for safety reasons, following consultation with residents.

“Leaseholders have been offered a generous cash buyback price. On top of this we have offered additional financial help, on a shared equity basis, when buying a new home.”

Owen Sheppard - Local Democracy Reporter


September 4, 2019