Speaking at Westminster Council meeting on 30th April, Church Street Councillor Barbara Grahame made a renewed plea for action on the long-vacant West End Green site;
“West End Green is the name of a temporary Car Park.
For those of you who don’t know it, it isn’t in the West End, it’s up the Edgware Road, past the flyover, behind the Paddington Green Police Station tower, and hidden behind a hoarding decorated with an elegant Georgian Terrace design.
It is 2.66 acres in size, and the site is said to be worth between £150 and £200 million, and it has been a temporary Car Park since 1989.
Of course it has been a Car Park far too long. 24 years. Yes it was caught up in a long and fractious Planning dispute and litigation. Residents complained bitterly, petitions were presented, asking why this land was not used for desparately needed housing. We proposed a CPO, but nothing was done.
But I’m raising this today because the site is for sale and there is at last real chance that it can be transformed into a landmark that residents and the council can be proud of. A landmark that would lift the whole area and be a catalyst for the changes that we in Church Street Ward and in Little Venice Ward have been working so hard for through our Futures Plans.
There is an extant Planning permission for the site, for a mixed development including a supermarket with underground parking, 156 flats for holiday lets, 307 residential flats of which 103 , that’s 35%, should be affordable housing and the 204 full market price units located in a 22 storey tower, plus contributions to health, education, public realm etc.
Of course there have been changes since that permission was agreed in 2005, so this may not be the scheme that is built out, but the principles are there, so I want a commitment:
– That this council will resist any attempt by developers to claim that the inclusion of on-site affordable social housing would make their scheme unviable. If they over-bid in the current bidding frenzy for this site, that’s their problem.
– A commitment that the affordable homes really will be affordable for local people whether for rent or shared ownership; local homes for local people must be a priority if we are to end the scandal of children living in over-crowded homes that are not compatible with a world class city.
I do have other wishes of course.
– That If developers include the Police Station in their scheme, which would make sense, that they retain a Police base that will need to serve the whole north of Westminster and keep it safe.
– That the contribution to education should be used to expand our excellent existing schools and college, not enable a land grab by a Free School that does not meet proven need
– That contribution to health enables local GPs to develop their facilities and meet the demands modern health provision
– Parking for Church Street Market traders
– That the development complements the Little Venice and Church Street Futures Plans by creating employment, perhaps an enterprise centre, a new home for the Cockpit Theatre,
Local people have waited a long time for this derelict site to provide something useful. This time we need to get it right.”