Westminster Conservatives have once again decided to let developers off providing the required 30% of social housing in a major redevelopment plan in Baker Street.
The plans for the redevelopment of an entire block at 15-35 Baker Street, 88-110 George Street and 69-71 Blandford Street include 51 new homes but only 10 are affordable – less than 20%.
In addition, the Council’s planning policies require the developers to pay over £12.3 million in lieu of on-site affordable house, but instead, Westminster Conservatives on the Planning Committee on 14th November voted to accept just £5 million from the developers.
This is the latest in a series of broken Conservative promises on affordable homes.
In January 2017, new Council Leader Nickie Aiken told the ‘Evening Standard’ that she would do things differently by no longer accepting “cheques” from developers in lieu of building more affordable homes. http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/new-westminster-council-chief-i-m-throwing-down-the-gauntlet-to-boost-supply-of-homes-a3450356.html
She repeated this in June this year when she told the FT:
“My view is that too many times we have not always pushed back enough in requiring affordable homes on-site, have buckled on viability or surrendered to the idea that brutal market economics simply denies housing opportunities for most people and that is just a harsh fact of life.”
And a Council spokesman told the FT:
“We don’t want cheques any more, we want to see housing — we are going to get tough.”
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Labour’s Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson, said:
“Once again the Conservatives prove that they cannot be trusted on delivering new affordable homes for Westminster residents. The Conservatives talk tough but roll over when developers plead poverty on major multi-million pound redevelopment schemes. The Conservatives are giving the go-ahead to more luxury housing and failing those in need of an affordable home in central London.”
A copy of the Baker Street report is here
The most high profile examples of the Conservatives saying one thing and doing another are
- The Old War Office in Whitehall got permission to convert to a luxury hotel and 88 luxury flats in a scheme said to cost £1bn. Under Council planning policies the developer should have paid almost £40m in lieu of providing on-site affordable housing, but only £10m will be paid
- In Hanover Square the Conservatives accepted a £9.5m contribution for a development when the Council’s own assessors said the developers could afford £12m.
The report on the Old War Office scheme is here
The report on the Hanover Square scheme is here