Global: Dave Hill | Earls Court: Farhia doesn’t want her home knocked down

A mother of four whose home is threatened by a controversial west London redevelopment scheme explains why she fears the demolition of her home

Farhia settled in north Fulham in 1999 after fleeing Somalia’s civil war. Seeking asylum, she was granted indefinite leave to stay in Britain. She was glad to be in London: “It’s a safe place,” she says. Somalis comprise a significant minority of the residents of the West Kensington estate, many of them fellow refugees. Farhia has lived in her flat for eleven years.

Other Somalis from the estate I’ve met largely echoed Farhia’s feelings about the plan of property developer Capital and Counties and her landlord, Hammersmith and Fulham council to knock down the estate and the adjoining Gibbs Green to make way for the Earls Court Project redevelopment scheme: they’d sooner it didn’t happen; if it does, they hope they can depend on the council’s promise to rehouse them nearby.

Farhia’s part of the estate is earmarked for Phase Two of the demolition schedule, which could be several years off if it occurs at all. But her need for stability and security is a recurring theme. With the help of an interpreter, a fellow estate resident, Farhia explained to me that she likes the area, values the friends she has nearby, and is happy with the local schools her four sons attend. The bus service is good too, carrying her conveniently to visit friends in Brixton, Tooting and elsewhere. In most respects she likes the council, praising its quick response when a window was in need of repair.

Her boys, she says, are happy too: one excels at maths, with hopes of becoming an engineer; signs of affection for nearby Chelsea Football Club are evident. What about the council’s insistence that the redevelopment will generate thousands of new jobs, opening up avenues of prosperity for all residents, including the up and coming young? Such improvements would be welcome, Farhia thinks. But why do they require knocking down her home?

Further reading: my timeline of the Earls Court Project and an archive of my coverage of the scheme. Comments are closed on this article. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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