Westminster Labour Group are committing to scrapping the Conservative Council’s proposed approach to tall buildings if Labour are elected to run Westminster at the May 3rd Council Elections.
In March 2017 Westminster Council launched a consultation on its plans entitled Building height: Getting the right kind of growth for Westminster where it extolled the potential benefits of increasing the number of tall buildings across Westminster. After initial resident anger the Council has delayed coming forward with its final plans as part of the delayed Westminster City Plan process- the results of which risk not being announced before the election.
Westminster Labour is open to exploring increased density or the addition of one or two floors to existing buildings in appropriate locations if such development delivers clear benefits for local residents. However it is strongly opposed to the elements of the Council’s current approach that could see the spread of tall buildings beyond the current clusters or see significant intensification of towers within the clusters.
Recent controversial tall buildings approved by Westminster Council include the Paddington Cube (originally the even more controversial Paddington Pole), West End Gate and Hathaway House.
Westminster Labour Group Leader Cllr Adam Hug said “Labour will scrap the Council’s proposals on tall buildings that could allow the spread of towers across Westminster. Instead we will look to work with local people about how to deliver well-designed, lower-rise high density schemes that benefit our residents as well as our business communities.”
Westminster Council’s Building Height Policy Context Document sets out the approach currently being proposed by the Conservatives:
(Westminster Council’s) current City Plan identifies three Opportunity Areas (Paddington, Victoria and Tottenham Court Road (shared with LB Camden)) where we wish to encourage a substantial increase in new homes and commercial uses. These areas are appropriate, in principle, for larger and higher buildings and higher density developments. Both Paddington and Victoria have seen dramatic changes in appearance with a number of new, higher and larger buildings with denser patterns of development being completed over the past 15-20 years. This, combined with a huge investment in public transport improvements and improved public realm, has resulted in the remaking of places with unrealised potential. Victoria, an area previously dominated by government and public sector bodies, has now become a destination of choice for financial services, technology companies and global HQs, as well as places where people are glad to come to work, visit and – increasingly – live.
Outside of the CAZ and our three opportunity areas we think there are other parts of the City where higher buildings and denser development could be allowed and would spread the benefits of growth and investment. We have identified our North Westminster Economic Development Area (NWEDA) as an area for economic renewal. NWEDA includes four of the most deprived wards in the City; the Church Street Regeneration Area, Westbourne, Harrow Road and Queen’s Park. Looking to the future should we encourage higher buildings in both the Church Street regeneration area (including within the Mayor’s Strategic Housing Zone) and Edgware Road (south of the Marylebone Flyover)? Where there are already higher buildings, is there scope for others? Similarly, could the Harrow Road be an appropriate location for higher buildings to bring in the new homes, commercial space and jobs that are needed? We would welcome your thoughts on the appropriateness of all of these areas for higher and larger buildings that make more intense use of available land.