BD writer Emma Dent Coad becomes Kensington’s first Labour MP after 24 hours of drama
Richard Rogers led architects in welcoming the knife-edge election victory of architectural historian and Labour politician Emma Dent Coad in Kensington.
Dent Coad, who sometimes writes for BD, was declared the winner by a wafer-thin 20 votes on Friday night after a third recount.
Rogers described it as a “wonderful win” and applauded Dent Coad’s campaign focus on housing and equality through the planning system, saying housing needed a “radical shakeup” and should be viewed as a social service.
The architect and Labour peer lives just outside the constituency but in the borough of Kensington & Chelsea where Dent Coad served as Labour leader and a planning committee member until the election.
She has vowed to tackle inequality in the constituency which is one of the wealthiest in the country yet also contains one of the poorest wards; Golborne, where the Trellick Tower stands. Child poverty on one estate is 58%, she said.
As a councillor she spent much of her time working with residents whose estates were in line to be demolished and replaced with homes for private sale. She also campaigned against poorly built housing, once leading BD on a tour of brand new flats in Golborne where residents who clearly knew her well pointed out the flaws in the construction.
She is also a vocal opponent of allowing the super rich to buy up property only to leave it empty.
She told the Guardian her campaign was “about where planning and people meet and the bad outcomes. Planning has been really skewed towards developing and improving areas and nothing to do with the people.”
Dent Coad, who has put her PhD on the architecture of Franco-era Spain on hold, said the result had left her “in shock”.
As Britain waited for the final recount, Walter Menteth tweeted Dent Coad: “Architecture is with you.”
Today BD columnist and fellow architectural historian Gillian Darley hailed her victory. “It is so good that she is there to speak up, from a position of deep local knowledge, on key housing and planning issues,” she said.