Landing on hard times
While the electorate at home is enjoying the warm afterglow of a session with Cyril, in the badlands of West London, Capital & Counties (Capco) is discovering that political changes can throw spanners of unusual size into plans that had looked to be sewn up tight.
Capco struck a deal with the then Conservative-led council of Hammersmith & Fulham back in the days when London property was booming, Boris Johnson was mayor, and grandiose plans for large-scale developments of run-down areas were regarded as a step forward for the city.
The plan was for a £12bn redevelopment of some pretty shabby locations around Earl’s Court and Olympia, including the Gibbs Green and West Kensington council estates, which were to be flattened in favour of new-build flats. The estates were sold to Capco by the Conservative council in 2013, but Labour took control of the council after the 2014 local elections, and all of a sudden developers were viewed as a succubus intent on gorging on the very lifeblood of the worthy proletariat.
Any project with as many moving parts as this was always going to be tricky to pull off, but the mood towards developers has turned to outright hostility since the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
Capco has already taken a 20% write-down on the value of the scheme, and rumours are flying around that the company is either trying to flog it off completely, or hand the two estates back to the council. Either outcome will involve a costly knock for Capco, and be a step backward for an area that was sorely in need of a boost.