Proceeds from the sale of 23 new flats created from dilapidated basements at Elm Park Gardens will fund improvement works to social housing in North Kensington, the Cabinet decided on the 2 May 2012.
The major beneficiary will be Grenfell Tower on the Lancaster West Estate which is to receive £6.9m worth of investment.
Thanks to the Cabinet’s decision, tenants can now look forward to brand new double glazing to reduce noise and improve thermal efficiency and fuel economy. They can also expect new individual combi- boilers to replace the out of date communal heating system.
Grenfell Tower itself is to have new external cladding to provide an effective rain screen and again improve thermal efficiency. The cladding will also dramatically improve the appearance of the Tower in a way that complements the new Academy and leisure centre being planned on the adjacent site.
And in the spirit of the Elm Park Gardens project, currently unused space on the lower floors of Grenfell will be converted to make between four and six new affordable homes. In fact the Cabinet were so impressed with the success of the Elm Park development, they authorised the allocation of a further £700,000 from the proceeds for the identification and development of other “hidden homes,” at Holmefield House, Greaves Tower and elsewhere.
“We have created 36 brand new homes out of dead space and the proceeds from that will now fund badly needed work elsewhere,” said Cabinet Member for Housing and Property, Cllr Tim Coleridge.
“So the Elm Park Gardens project really has been something of a triumph; the challenge now is to see if we can repeat the hidden homes formula elsewhere.”
The basement developments, at Elm Park Gardens in the heart of Chelsea, have provided 36 high quality new homes, 23 for sale and 13 for affordable rent.
After not faring well in the war years the Gardens were compulsorily purchased by Chelsea Borough Council in 1949. Records show that by then the basements were already vacant. Over time they came to house communal heating systems, ducting, electricity units and much else besides. In parts, they were also used by tenants for storage purposes.
Elm Park Gardens is a late Victorian Square, with some post war additions. Its former residents include Joyce Grenfell, Vladimir Nabokov, Laurie Lee and Elizabeth Frink.