Call for David Cameron to condemn Westminster’s abuse of its own planning policies
Despite having only £1 million unallocated in its Affordable Housing Fund (AHF) Westminster Conservatives have allowed luxury flat developers get away with paying ‘cut prices’ to locate affordable housing off-site, losing the Council over £31 million in payments to the AHF. Labour Councillors say that the lost £31 million could have built nearly 150 new affordable homes for some of the 1,000 Westminster families currently living in overcrowded conditions and have called on David Cameron to speak out against his local Conservative Councillors’ flagrant abuse of their own planning policies.
In August Labour Councillors wrote to the District Auditor to draw his attention to the £31,130,387 loss incurred by Westminster City Council in accepting financial payments less than required by the Council’s adopted Planning Policies, in lieu of on-site affordable homes in respect of nine recent planning applications decided by the Council between 14th May – 6th August. Over a full year, based on these figures, the financial loss to the Council would be about £100 million. The District Auditor has confirmed that his staff are investigating this matter.
Labour say that Westminster’s failure to collect the £31 million is highlighted by the remarks of Ben Denton, Strategic Director of Housing, Regeneration & Property at Westminster City Council, who has told Councillors;
“The AHF has pretty much all of the committed funding allocated to planned projects at this stage. There is no significant surplus of AHF funds unallocated – we estimate that there is only about £1m unallocated at this stage. “
Councillor Barbara Grahame. Labour’s Planning Spokesperson, said;
“The Council’s senior regeneration officer has made it clear that there is very little money left to build more affordable homes. By not collecting the full amount Westminster Conservatives are depriving nearly 150 local families of a new affordable home. At a time of the biggest housing crisis in living memory Westminster’s refusal to apply its own planning policies is an absolute disgrace. We are calling on David Cameron to speak out against Westminster’s refusal to collect this money and build the new affordable homes that everyone knows are needed in central London”