Westminster City Council Planning Committee returned to its usually poor form last night, defying the wishes of local people and ignoring its own policies. Despite listening to substantial representations against the proposal from local Councillor Adam Hug, the Committee went straight ahead and approved a 14 storey residential block (Hathaway House) on Woodfield Road in Westbourne Ward. This was despite the proposal being opposed by 132 local residents, Karen Buck MP, all 3 local Westbourne Labour Councillors, and the neighbouring borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
This opposition didn’t stop the 3 Conservative members of the committee approving the plans despite it breaching the Council’s own policies on tall buildings and provision of affordable housing for working people.
Later the same evening 3 out of the 4 members of the Planning Committee decided to ignore Council Policy for a second time. Westminster Council planning officers advised the committee to reject a plan for 18 homes in 33 Westbourne Terrace to be transformed into 6 luxury properties, potentially worth millions.
The Committee disregarded explicit Council policy from July this year that aims to protect against the loss of affordable flats, as well strong advice from officers and South East Bayswater Residents Association that the plans would harm “the special architectural and historic interest of a listed building and the character and appearance of the surrounding conservation area”.
Labour Councillor Tim Roca, the only member of the Planning Committee to oppose both proposals, commented:
“The decisions made by the committee last night were so outrageous in their defiance of reason, policy, and the wishes expressed by residents, that I struggle to understand how any sensible person could ever arrive at them. There were also double standards at play that should worry residents: a 12 storey block to replace Dora House was unacceptable and had to have its height reduced in St Johns Wood, but 14 storeys was perfectly acceptable in Westbourne. Ultimately there was a wilful decision to ignore the public, professional advice and policy arrived at by the democratically elected Council.”