The ‘West End Extra’ reports;
“HISTORIC Admiralty Arch that spans the top of the Mall is to be turned into a luxury hotel and a private members’ club after Westminster Council rubber-stamped plans this week.
However, the decision has been criticised because developers were allowed to make reduced contributions to the social housing fund and instead pay for two pieces of public art.
Labour councillors said it was “shocking” that money could be diverted away from constructing affordable properties while Westminster was in the grips of a housing crisis.
The severe shortage of housing was highlighted this week by the release of figures that showed about 1,000 families are on a waiting list for a one-bedroom home while just 16 are available for letting in Westminster.
The proposals nearly hit a stumbling block when developers refused to pay the £1million towards building social housing that was necessary to meet the council’s own policy for luxury developments.
Developers instead said they would only pay £600,000 towards the council’s housing fund and a further £100,000 for two statues that will stand on the Trafalgar Square side of the arch.
Cllr David Boothroyd, who sat on the committee and voted against the proposal, told the West End Extra: “It’s shocking that during a housing crisis, the council not only allows a lower amount of affordable housing money than is due under its policy, but also lets £100,000 be diverted to public art.”
Of the Admiralty Arch architect, he said: “Sir Aston Webb’s design is a really impressive piece of public art in itself.”