Labour Westminster Councillors say that the long-vacant ‘West End Green’ site on the corner of Edgware Road and Church Street which has planning permission for a new supermarket and hundreds of new homes should be a priority target for Ed Miliband’s new ‘use it or lose it’ planning regime following the General Election next year.
The new ‘use it or lose it’ planning policy would strengthen the ability of councils to compulsorily purchase land with planning permission which has not been developed.
Labour say that this prime site at 291-325 Edgware Road has been vacant for over 20 years despite having planning permission for new homes and a supermarket for many years. At the same time Westminster’s housing crisis is getting worse, day after day;
• There are over 1,000 local families living in overcrowded conditions
• According to Government figures, 828 new homes were given planning permission in Westminster in 2012/13 of which only 82 were affordable homes
• In Westminster, average weekly rents are 71% of local wages, £524 out of £737, according to the ‘Evening Standard
• Westminster Council has spent £111m on putting homeless families in hotels and B&B since 2010
• It will take over 5 years for Westminster Council to re-house the near 400 tenants affected by the Bedroom Tax in smaller flats, according to the Council’s own figures.
Councillor Barbara Grahame, Labour’s Planning Spokesperson, said;
“Labour’s new ‘use it or lose it’ planning policy will get long-vacant sites like this developed for much needed homes for people wanting to buy and rent, as well as delivering more social housing. Westminster Council has failed for decades to get this site developed and the owners have been content to do nothing and watch the value of their land increase. This sort of neglect is not in the public interest and Labour’s proposed new ‘use it or lose it’ policy will finally get vacant land with planning permission back in to use”.
Westminster’s Housing Crisis – The Facts
• Westminster Conservatives announced, re-announced and re-announced again ‘the biggest council house building plans for a generation’ promising 500 new homes. What happened? In fact, just 139 new ‘affordable’ homes have been built since 2010, and only 85 of them were for council rent.
• Residents were promised that a new Council home would be built for every one sold under the Right to Buy. In fact, Westminster Council has sold 66 Council flats under the Right to Buy since 2010, pocketing £16.2 million, but has built no new Council homes with that money.
• Meanwhile, of the 9,000 former council flats in Westminster that have been privately sold, 3 out of 10 are now being rented out privately, at vastly higher rents. So, of two families living next to each other in a council block, one could be paying £120 a week in rent to the Council, and the other paying £400 to a private landlord. No wonder Housing Benefit bills have gone up