There are 462 flats on the estate, rented at subsidised rates to low-income households. However, families have been moved out of 159 of them because, according to the association, they fail to meet government standards — they are cramped and most have serious problems with damp.
The association now hopes to redevelop the whole estate, demolishing all but two of its original 15 blocks, and intends to submit a planning application later this year.
In its place it wants to build a new estate with 451 homes, about 112 of which will be sold privately to help subsidise the development. Given the location off King’s Road, these apartments, depending on their size, could each be worth at least £1 million.
Affinity Sutton said three-quarters of the residents who attended a recent meeting on the plans supported the move — all current households will be rehoused on the new estate — but some are furious that the scheme means the total number of affordable homes on the estate will be reduced by more than 30 per cent once the project is completed.
Under threat: 30 per cent of the Sutton Estate’s affordable housing may go
Andrew Barshall, 53, a marketing consultant and local resident, blames Affinity Sutton for failing to maintain the estate properly, claiming that it has done so deliberately in order to make redevelopment — and significant profit — inevitable. The Save the Sutton Estate campaign has won the support of comedian Eddie Izzard, who recently performed at a benefit concert at the Leicester Square Theatre to help raise money to fight the proposals.
“The estate is now badly dilapidated but this is because it has been neglected for years,” said Mr Barshall. “What I object to is that there will be less social housing in Chelsea as a result of this proposal. This is a historic group of buildings, and they should be renovated not pulled down.”
A spokeswoman for Affinity Sutton countered that while there would be fewer affordable homes, they would be larger and of higher quality, and that any surplus money generated by the development would go towards other affordable housing schemes in the capital. She denied the estate had been deliberately left to decline — the association, she said, had spent some £2.3 million on work on the four most run-down blocks alone since 2006.
“As a responsible landlord we want to secure the future of affordable housing in Chelsea for our current and future tenants to live in good-quality homes that meet modern-day standards,” she said.