Residents in Church Street and the Ebury Bridge Estate in Pimlico who have been waiting many years for better housing have been hit by further delays to Westminster Council’s estate regeneration plans.
According to Labour Councillors, both the Church Street ‘Futures’ plan and the Ebury Bridge regeneration plans are many years behind schedule with further delays and cost increases putting the projects in dire risk.
Church Street Futures Plan Delays
Church Street residents backed the first phase of the regeneration proposals when they voted in May 2013. 25% of residents voted with 87% of those in favour of the proposals which are designed to improve the neighbourhood, including:
- 65 new affordable, high specification, energy efficient homes for local people
- 180 new private high specification, energy efficient homes which will raise £17-19 million to invest in the neighbourhood
- 45 new replacement high quality, one bedroom sheltered homes for current elderly residents of Penn House
- Investment to improve existing blocks around Luton Street development
- New fund to improve the overall management of the neighbourhood
However, according to Church Street Councillor Barbara Grahame, over 3 years on from the residents’ vote, the reality is very different:
- Lisson Arches: contractors are still struggling to dig foundations for this 11 storey block to replace Penn House supported housing block. No council records could be found of previous building works on this part of Lisson Green! This delay means:
- Penn House cannot be demolished and replaced with a new health centre and offices. This delay means:
- 4 Frampton Street/105 Lisson Grove council offices cannot be demolished and replaced with housing which will help fund other part of the Futures Plan.
- Luton Street delays and cost increases, including Council insistence on unallocated parking and too much parking, rights to light.
- Cosway Street delays mean that the site cannot be sold to raise the cash for affordable housing
- Missed opportunity to support the Ashmill Nurses Home proposal, on a council-owned Car Park site, which could have raised more money for the project and provided key worker housing
- Berkeley Homes were given planning permission on the nearby West End Green site with insufficient affordable homes, so another opportunity was missed for providing more decant space to keep the community together
Church Street Councillor Barbara Grahame said:
“Church Street residents voted overwhelmingly for this regeneration scheme but the Council has delivered nothing. Meanwhile blocks due to be demolished are left to deteriorate, lifts and heating break down. Frail older people do not know when they will be moved to their new home. The Council lacks the will or the competence to deliver promised improvements. After over 3 years the only Futures Plan new buildings are 3 show flats”
Ebury Bridge Regeneration Delays
Residents voted in favour of the renewal plans in a week-long ballot in May 2013. The planning application for the redevelopment of the Ebury Bridge estate has been approved. The Council said in 2013: “The renewal plans for Ebury Bridge will provide high quality new homes and significant improvements to existing homes along with vastly improved public spaces, which will enhance the character and value of the area. In addition the plans will provide residents with improvements to the energy efficiency of their homes, improved community facilities and provide future job opportunities.”
The key elements of the plans are:
- Eight blocks to be demolished and replaced with a series of new buildings ranging from 8-14 storeys with 4 storey breaks at key points to provide light and variety
- Five blocks to be retained and improved
- 101 additional homes created overall
- New homes and estate improvements to the highest environmental standards
- New central park with open lawns and play area and better connections with the surrounding area
- New enlarged community facility at street level • New underground car park
But now, over 3 years later the Council has admitted that “there had been a muted response when soft market testing the planning consented scheme in the latter half of 2015 which did not generate sufficient interest from investment developers and traditional contractors. Complex delivery phasing, block/unit layouts requiring further value engineering and the costs and complexity of the refurbishment element are the main risks for developers/contractors.”
The Council say that officers are currently refining the existing consented scheme but a revised scheme is not yet finalised.
Councillor Jason Williams, Labour Churchill Ward Councillor said:
“After the Ebury Bridge vote in May 2013, residents and lessees were faced with delays and poor communications from the Council. There were cancelled meetings and great uncertainty about the progress of the regeneration plans. While there has been some improvements recently with communications, there is still a lack of clarity as to the rephrasing plans and there is an urgent need for the Council to outline their plans for the project to end the uncertainty.”
Councillor Tim Roca, Labour Housing spokesperson said:
“Three years have gone by and nothing has been built or is about to be built. Over 9 months have passed since the Ebury Bridge ‘soft market testing’ told the Council they may have a problem and yet it still hasn’t produced a revised scheme. When it comes to housing there are many fine words from Tory Councillors but the reality is regeneration plans left to drift and residents paying the price for ever increasing delays to much needed housing.”