Westminster Council plans ‘smash and grab’ of £150 million of taxpayers’ money

Labour Councillors say that Westminster City Council’s attempted ‘smash and grab’ of £150 million of taxpayers’ money to fund new affordable housing hides the Conservative Council’s failure to require all new residential developments to include on-site affordable housing and the Council’s give away of over £26 million in affordable housing contributions at a single meeting of the Planning Committee.

Earlier this week Westminster Conservatives called on the government to ring-fence 50 percent of the top rate of stamp duty for local authorities to allow them to build more affordable homes. The Conservatives claim that £150m per year would allow 6,000 properties each year to be built. http://www.westminster.gov.uk/workspace/assets/publications/Homing-in-on-the-issues-Perspec-1375182291.pdf

Yet, only last month Westminster Conservatives gave 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;

“Westminster Conservatives would have no need to grab £150 million of taxpayers’ money if it applied its own planning policies correctly or ensured that developers paid the full financial price for being let off building on-site affordable homes. Building more affordable homes in Westminster is the number one priority yet Westminster Conservatives regularly wave through planning applications which include no affordable housing and then allow developers to pay less than they should in lieu of new homes. The Conservatives threw away over £26 million at one meeting alone last month. Now they have the nerve to try and grab £150 million of taxpayers’ money to cover up their abysmal failure”

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This entry was posted in Council finances, House building, Housing, Labour Councillors, Planning permission, West End, Westminster Council waste and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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