Karen Buck MP calls on Westminster Council to give answers on long-delayed Church Street regeneration

Karen Buck MP has written to Barbara Brownlee, Director of Housing at Westminster Council asking for answers to a series of questions on age long-delayed Church Street regeneration plans, that have so far delivered no new homes since the plans were launched in 2013.

Dear Barbara,

Church Street regeneration 

It is becoming increasingly clear that the Church Street regeneration plans, subject to extensive discussion and consultation five years ago and put to a ballot in 2013 as the ‘Futures Plan’, are being fundamentally changed, while almost nothing of the Futures Plan has yet been implemented. At a meeting in Church Street last week, it was obvious that many residents are now unclear and concerned about where they stand, and the relationship between the masterplan, Futures Plan and the consultation undertaken by Urban Initiatives. The programme has been subject to excessive delays, and some residents have been subject to worse living conditions as a result of those delays.

It would be very helpful if you could provide some clarity to enable me to answer the many queries which I am receiving.

Specifically, I believe it is essential that we now have an up=to-date list of all blocks/sites and streets in the Futures Plans, Master Plan and other affected areas setting out the current proposals, to enable a properly informed discussion with residents and so they and their elected representatives can be clear about tracking changes from those originally discussed from 2001 on (and, indeed, those subject to the ballot). We also need to know Westminster’s updated  thinking overall regarding new housing and other developments, including the breakdown of affordable and market homes, and whether there have been or are anticipated to be, any changes in respect of the offer to residents expected to move, such as tenants’ rights to a home on a comparable rent and with the same tenancy rights as would have been the case at the time of the original ballot.

  1. Church Street Site 1

Cherwell House and adjoining blocks (Wey, Loddon, Wytham) were not scheduled as development sites. We understand that they now are  Please can you confirm this?

  1. Church Street Site 2

It was originally envisaged that Mole, Windrush, Isis, Derry, Colne and Derent were demolished (78 homes) with the construction of 166 homes (a net gain of 88), and the refurbishment of Kennet House. Can you confirm that these plans remain as originally envisaged?

  1. Church Street Site 4/south

The 2011 plans (and the Urban Initiatives Recommendations) envisaged the demolition of Eden House and Blackwater Houses,  and the refurbishment of Wandle, Medway, Ravensbourne, Lea, Lambourne, Pool , Cray and Roding Houses. 73  homes were to be demolished, 253  refurbished with a net gain of 17 homes.

Is this still due to proceed on the same basis in respect of each of the named blocks, and on what timescale?  Given the considerable delay and the problems (including the boiler issues) affecting some of the blocks, what steps will the council take this year to ensure current residents enjoy a reasonable quality of life whilst waiting for the major refurbishment?

  1. Penn House

What are the current plans for Penn House and what is the currently envisaged timescale?

  1. Lisson Green estate

The Lisson Green estate underwent a £50m estate regeneration programme in the 1990s, yet there are now rumours that a number of blocks will be included in a revised development plan. Can you confirm if this is the case, which blocks would be included and when residents would be expect to be informed?

If Lisson Green is not included, which blocks does the council envisage being demolished, with how many properties involved in each case?

What plans are envisaged for the canal side north of the estate, and what implications do these have for the sports pitches?

What is the anticipated change in the total number of properties, broken down by tenure?

  1. Other Church Street sites now under consideration for replacement
  • 27-53 Church Street
  • Tresco, Alpha  House and the former BT site on Ashbridge Street
  1. Will the Council honour the commitments to the agreed improvements in blocks around Luton Street? If so, what is the timescale?
  1. What is now envisaged for Gateforth Street, including the re-provisioning of the Lisson Grove health centre?
  1. Overall regeneration objectives
  1. i)    How many properties in total within Church Street are now expected to be: a)      Demolished (b)   Refurbishe
  2. ii)      What will be the net change in the number of homes in absolute and percentage terms?
  1. a)      In total
  2. b)      Social rent
  3. c)      Other affordable rent
  4. d)      Other affordable sale
  5. e)      Market sale

How do each of these vary from the Futures Plan and Urban Initatives recommendations?

Will Westminster abide by the commitment made in 2011 to enable all residents- tenants and leaseholders- who wish to remain local to be able to do so?

How many properties have been purchased from leaseholders since 2011?

How many a) households b) people does the council envisage needing to decant over the next five years?

  1. Interim maintenance and area management

Residents in Site 4 blocks in particular have suffered from problems in their blocks which may well reflect the delayed regeneration programme and a general sense that the long term plan means short term issues do not take priority. 

Will CWH/WCC please seek the assistance of EH to undertake an assessment of the condition of these blocks, including those properties now in private rental, to ensure residents are not living in sub-standard or excessively cold homes pending their redevelopment?

May we have a progress report on the ‘Neighbourhood upkeep’ project in light of the withdrawal of the tender and its replacement by intermittent gardening work?

Does the Green Spine project remain on schedule

Will the council report on those elements of the Futures Plan which have not been delivered?

–          Luton Street/Cosway Street

–          District heating scheme

–          Lisson Arches

–          Orange Park nursery

Thank you very much and I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes

Karen Buck MP

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This entry was posted in Church Street, Futures Programme, House building, Housing, Karen Buck MP, Labour Councillors, Westminster City Council and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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