Tenants Have Mixed Feelings About Leaving Charlton House

Some regrets but most welcome forthcoming move to new estate

Iman Abdikarim looks out from a balcony at Charlton House
Iman Abdikarim looks out from a balcony at Charlton House. Picture: Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon


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November 29, 2023

Standing in a relatively small square of land in Brentford intersected on all sides by roads both major and minor is a housing estate made up of Charlton House, Albany House, and Osier Court. The Estate, which currently comprises 91 homes, 27 garages and 19 commercial units is set to be demolished.

Everything within the confines of the land is being replaced with modern housing blocks, everything except the local pub which will remain as the last vestige of the soon-to-be-gone estate. In early November, Hounslow Council’s cabinet agreed to assign £7.25m for the appointment of a Pre-Construction Service Agreement Contractor, Consultants and Demolition Contractor, to carry out pre-construction services.

In other words, the ball is rolling on the project, which will see housing units on the land more than double. The plan is for 209 affordable flats to be erected from the ashes of the previous estate.

A ‘car-free’ development there will only be spaces for bikes and for blue badge holders to park. Naturally, a project of this scale will cause upheaval to the residents already living in the condemned buildings. LDRS went to speak to them to get their perspective on the project and what the future holds for them.

Kim Thompson has been a resident of the Charlton House, the largest of the housing blocks to come down, for 42 years. She lives with her mother June Gibb and husband Philip both of whom will move out with her at the end of the year.

In the over four decades she’s been a resident Kim says she has felt the warmth of the community around her. “It’s great all the neighbours are really friendly, everyone is really happy,” she said.

With such a strong sense of community at Charlton House, Kim says that news of the redevelopment was bittersweet. “To see it come down is a real shame but the state of the building is really bad, the repairs to be done are a nightmare and uneconomical to do.

“We’ve got damp, mould, the building is falling apart.” For her, the chance to move somewhere new is an exciting prospect even though it means parting with some people she has known for many years.

“Everyone’s really sad that we are all moving out and we are all going to go to different places,” she told LDRS. Kim says that her neighbours always keep an eye out for her and she does vice versa with people checking on each other every couple of days if they haven’t seen each other.

The loss of the community is softened for Kim due to her new housing offer which is a like-for-like swap of her current three-bedroom but with an added feature. “I’m happy, we are gonna have a big garden for our dog and everything.”

Kim is set to move out of Charlton House in the post-Christmas period alongside her mother and husband, just after 17 December which will mark 42 years since she moved to the estate. Iman Abdikarim and her mum live a few doors down from Kim.

The mother-daughter duo is currently in a three-bedroom flat which they share on and off with foster kids that routinely come to stay. Iman is in her final year of study at Kingston University just over the other side of the river from Brentford.

The 22-year-old seems desperate to get out from underneath her mother’s feet and saw the move as a possible opportunity to do so. Rather than a like-for-like switch Iman was hoping it could be split into a one-bedroom apartment and a two-bedroom.

Kim and Philip Thompson with Kim's mother June Gibb in Charlton House
Kim and Philip Thompson with Kim's mother June Gibb in Charlton House. Picture: Facundo

However, this seems to have caused some confusion with the council and the family going back and forth about options. Iman initially believed that this had resulted in her mum only being offered a two-bedroom flat meaning she might have to give up her job as a foster carer.

“I feel like a bit of a burden on my mum because she doesn’t want to give up her job but I don’t have anywhere else to go,” she said. However, her mum later clarified that the council had in fact offered them a three-bedroom flat meaning Iman could continue to live with her and they could still take foster kids.

“The rules always change because when we first went to [the council] they said it was going to be two bedrooms, every time it’s something different.” Despite the confusion, Iman and her mum get enough space for them to live together.

They are one of the families from Charlton House that will be moving into Block D one of the Council’s brand-new developments just down the road on the High Street. Made up of three blocks; Sonnet House, Hamlet House and Tintern House the site is still currently under construction, with Iman saying that the plans to decant residents keep being delayed.

“It was meant to be the beginning of this year and then it was August, then they were it was the end of this year, now they are saying Block D isn’t finished until January, they keep extending it.” The council have told LDRS that the block will be ready to move into by early next year.

Charlton House, Brentford
A mural at Charlton House, Brentford. Picture: Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

Even with some of the frustrations Iman and her mum seem pleased with the modern flat they have been offered especially considering the state of their current flat. “It’s cold, the bathroom leaks, there is damp,” Iman says, adding “I can see why they want to knock it down. But I like it here, I don’t want to leave but I get it.”

This is not a concern for Warda Yusuf on the floor above. She says that the planning redevelopment is a good thing. She is pleased with the offer the council has given her.

“It is good because I have three children, and a three-bedroom house and they are giving me a three-bedroom house, so I’m happy,” she remarked.

“This house is very cold and the roof is not good, so when I was offered this new house I was very happy.” She is also heading to Block D which is near enough to where she currently lives for the transition to be easy.

“I’m not having to change anything: GP, school, job it’s all going to be the same,” Warda continued, adding that she pays £620 a month for her current flat and has been told that she will pay the same for the new one although she said that has not been confirmed.

Charlton House, Brentford
Charlton House, Brentford. Picture: Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

Councillor Tom Bruce, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Development at Hounslow Council, said, “The regeneration of this estate is a top priority for Hounslow Council, residents overwhelmingly back the scheme and we have a robust strategy to make the regeneration of this estate a reality.

“Despite rising inflation and construction costs we have put in place concise plans to ensure we remain committed to making this happen and ensuring we deliver high quality affordable homes for Hounslow residents.

“It will be another fantastic addition to Brentford where the wider regeneration of the town centre is finally coming to life. It’s exciting to see a host of new businesses coming to the borough for the first time which every resident can enjoy.

“It’s important that every new development across the borough helps towards our ambitions for creating a thriving, greener, safer and healthier place to live, play, work and study for the whole community.”

Rory Bennett - Local Democracy Reporter

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