The ‘Evening Standard’ reports:
Despite Westminster council’s policy that all new housing schemes should contain at least 35 per cent affordable homes, it has given Berkeley Homes permission to build 200 new flats at Paddington Green in W2 with only 32 designated affordable — just 16 per cent of the total.
The developer initially offered none at all, saying the scheme, an extension of its huge West End Gate development, would not be financially viable with cheaper homes.
The planning committee gave the go-ahead only weeks after council leader Nickie Aiken issued a stern warning to the property industry that she would not tolerate London’s “golden postcodes” becoming ghettos for the rich.
She told the London Real Estate Forum in June: “I do not want to preside over a borough where the housing market is polarised between multimillion properties for oligarchs and council-run estates, with not much in between.
“Too many times we have buckled on viability or surrendered to the idea that brutal market economics simply denies housing opportunities for most people and that is just a harsh fact of life.”
Two-bedroom flats in the sold-out first phase of West End Gate started at £850,000 and Berkeley Homes claimed the new homes would not be financially viable if any affordable properties were included in the scheme. This was queried by Westminster and the offer was upped to 16 per cent affordable, which the council’s planners accepted.
The decision has horrified local residents. The Marylebone Association lodged an official objection to the project. “On such a large development on-site affordable housing should be provided, particularly given the number of nearby public services employers — St Mary’s Hospital, the police station, City of Westminster College,” said spokesman William Hulbert.
However John Walker, Westminster’s director of planning, insisted the proposal offered other “public benefits” to the area, including developing a long-stalled building site which blighted the area, and would help increase the number of homes in the borough at a time when councils are under huge pressure to boost housebuilding.
Berkeley Homes declined to comment.
The scale of the development means London Mayor Sadiq Khan – who pronounced himself “outraged” when the Battersea Power Station Development Company recently managed to reduce the number of affordable homes on the landmark site after pleading poverty – has to give final approval to the plans. Some may view his decision as a marker of his will to take on developers over affordable housing across London.”