Westminster Council’s definition of a mixed community in the West End – 198 luxury flats, a five star hotel and NO affordable housing

Labour Councillors have condemned Westminster Conservatives decision to give planning permission for 198 luxury flats, a five star hotel and no affordable housing when it considered four major planning applications in the West End on 16th July.

In addition, the Conservatives on the Planning Committee accepted only 42% of the amount of money payable for providing off-site affordable housing, losing the Council over £26,700,000 in payments to the Affordable Housing Fund. Instead of receiving £46,779,063, the Council will receive only £19,992,000.

The proposals were for;

78 luxury apartments at 1 Palace Street and 1-3 Buckingham Gate which was previously an office building. Under Westminster Council’s agreed Planning Policy the applicants should have paid the Council £18,967,063 for not including any affordable housing on site. Instead, the Council accepted the applicant’s offer of £8,680,000. This was £10,287,063 less than required under the Council’s policy

89 luxury apartments at 70-88 Oxford Street which was previously an office building. Under Westminster Council’s agreed Planning Policy the applicants should have paid the Council £9,782,000 for not including any affordable housing on site. Instead, the Council accepted the applicant’s offer of £4,250,000. This was £5,532,000 less than required under the Council’s policy

31 luxury apartments at 56 Curzon Street which was previously an office building. Under Westminster Council’s agreed Planning Policy the applicants should have paid the Council £6,830,000 for not including any affordable housing on site. Instead, the Council accepted the applicant’s offer of £5,062,000. This was £1,768,000 less than required under the Council’s policy

A 99 bed five star hotel and 2 restaurants at the listed Bow Street Magistrates Court which is a ‘building at risk’. The decision to grant planning permission was deferred but the Council would have been willing to accept £2 million in lieu of on-site affordable instead of the £11,200,000 required under the Council’s Planning Policies – a loss of £9,200,000.

Councillor Barbara Grahame, Labour’s Planning Spokesperson said;

“Not only have the Conservatives allowed yet more offices to be converted to luxury housing with absolutely no affordable housing to be built, but they have ignored their own planning policies and have lost over £26 million which should have gone towards building new affordable homes elsewhere in Westminster.”

“The Conservatives are determined to make the West End even more of a ‘rich-man’s playground’ with nowhere for those on modest or low incomes to live. Westminster Conservatives are ruining the West End and fuelling the current problems caused by more luxury apartments which are bought by overseas investors and left empty for months at a time. The only way to ensure a mixed and lively West End community is to build more affordable homes, including social homes let at prices that ordinary families can afford”

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