Fulham Residents Say Their Estate Has Become Like a Bombsite

Demolition work on Dawes Road leading to noise, dust and disruption

Chasemore House residents Jacquline Rhone and June O'Brien. Picture: Owen Sheppard

Residents on a Fulham estate where two tower blocks are being demolished on their doorsteps are demanding compensation for “noise, dust and disruption” that will last for years.

The 14-storey Hartopp and Lannoy towers in Dawes Road are being dismantled after structural weaknesses were discovered in their concrete-panel facades.

Leaseholders have been bought out of their homes by Hammersmith and Fulham Council, and tenants rehoused.

But neighbours on a low-rise block are dismayed by the lack of communication about what the future holds for the estate, and say the council has refused to offer compensation for the years of upheaval.

The council said the disturbance was “unfortunate” but “inevitable”. It added that noise, vibration and air quality monitors have been installed so that work would cease if these “exceed acceptable levels”.

June O’Brien, 72, a leaseholder from Chasemore House, said, “It looks like a bombsite, it’s caused so much noise, dust and disruption.

“There’s quite a few of us who are asking for compensation, but it doesn’t look like we will get it. They just said ‘no’ categorically, and that they’ve never done it and never will.”

She continued, “We’ve not been told anything about how long this is going to go on for.

“And they are going to build something new here, so it could be four or five years before it’s all finished.”

Hartopp and Lannoy demolition site

Mr O’Brien said they should be offered a discount on their council tax as compensation.

Mrs O’Brien’s nephew, Daniel Holmes who is a plasterer, also lives a matter of metres from the piles of rubble.

“We have a 15-month-old baby, so imagine having to try and put her to sleep with all this going on. It’s not good,” he said.

“When it’s a hot day and you want to open the windows, dust comes straight in. And sometimes the water just goes off without warning.”

On the question of offering compensation, the council also said, “It is not standard practice, nor is it recommended in any regulatory guidance or council policy.”

Sarah Poole, 31, and her partner were told they couldn’t get a valuation on their property because of the uncertainty of what will happen on the estate.

She said, “We were told it’s impossible to value this property because we don’t know what they’re going to build here. We don’t even know that they won’t demolish our homes.”

Jacquline Rhone, 55, a tenant in Chasemore House, said: “There’s not been much communication. They previously said the demolition would be finished by January but there’s no way that will happen. We don’t know what’s going on.”

It is understood that although the council has not made any announcement to residents, it expects to appoint a design team later this month. This team will plan the future of the estate, which will not involve demolishing any more homes.

Adronie Alford, a Conservative councillor for Munster ward, said, “The residents through no fault of their own are living on a demolition site. Their lives and homes are blighted for the foreseeable future. The council’s response is to say they will wash their cars and windows, a derogatory response. They utterly reject any compensation. The council is doing things to residents not with them.”

The council said it responded to Cllr Alford in a letter on September 24. A copy of the letter said the project team “communicated regularly with residents”, restricted working hours to weekdays from 8am-6pm and issued parking permits to residents who had lost access to underground garages that were demolished.

The council has also said to have reduced leaseholders’ service charges for a section of the charge that related to maintaining the estate’s horticulture, most of which has been demolished.

Owen Sheppard - Local Democracy Reporter

October 28, 2020