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New homes central to plan for Westminster

Date: 
Wed, 19/06/2019

New planning policies to create homes, jobs and a greener city have been unveiled by Westminster City Council as part of its new City Plan.

The City Plan, which opens for formal consultation today, sets out the planning policies for all development in the central London borough - with the aim of ensuring Westminster remains one of the best places in the world to live, work and visit. 

The newly published plan focuses on 3 key themes, creating more affordable homes, the right environment for business growth and more open, green spaces to enjoy.

The local authority will use its new planning framework to set a clear direction for developers and householders, meeting a number of key targets: 

  • 1,495 new homes every year for ten years
  • 1,850 new affordable homes by 2023
  • create new business floor space for 63,000 new jobs
  • 6 in 10 affordable homes to be intermediate housing
  • tall buildings ruled out across the city – with most new developments to match surrounding skyline

Westminster City Council Cabinet Member for Planning and Place Shaping, Cllr Richard Beddoe said:

“Building the right type of homes for people to live in is the cornerstone of our plan for the city. We cannot shy away from the fact there is a national crisis. We’re determined to pull our weight by creating more homes for average earners and middle income families with aspirations to build their lives in our city.

“Our plan covers every aspect of modern life, from laying the groundwork for electric vehicle infrastructure to protecting our unique neighbourhoods like Soho. Westminster is not a museum and our new plan strikes a balance between conservation and the need for growth – cementing our position as one of the world’s most exciting places to live, work and visit.”

To meet its targets the council is introducing several new flagship policies which will shape the city for the next 20 years.

Homes

Housing is the corner stone of the new plan. In it 6 in every 10 new affordable homes built in Westminster will be for middle-income families. This comes as the council sets itself the target to build 1495 new homes every year (for 10  years) nearly 50 per cent higher than required under the Mayor of London’s 'London Plan'.

Currently the majority of homes in Westminster are out of reach for average earners with just 1.5 per cent of homes classed as ‘intermediate’ - at least 20 per cent below market rent. Councils across London prioritise social housing, which already make up 25 per cent of Westminster homes.

Whilst we are proud of our social housing, the imbalance in stock leaves most average earners unable to find a place to live in the city. The council is on track to build the 1,850 new affordable homes by 2023, originally promised in 2017. 

Soho

Soho will benefit from a new protective policy aimed at stemming the invasion of high street brands which demand larger units of a different character to the Soho we know and love, by introducing stricter rules to maintain an environment where smaller independent retailers and creative businesses can thrive.

Tall buildings

Westminster is also set to reject skyscrapers across almost all of the city with developers being discouraged from building for height across the city with the possible exceptions of Paddington and Victoria where the existing skyline is already taller but where strict criteria will still have to be met. This plan insists on high quality place making. World class architecture and urban design is the standard set.

The council will back infill schemes and developments which bring buildings in line with the surrounding skyline. Increasing the height of buildings by 1 or 2 stories across the city to create much needed room for the city to grow without changing the character of an area.

North Bank

The plan will enable the North Bank to become a must visit destination to rival the South Bank. Inspired by creative projects like the New York High Line. Policies will facilitate transformation of the riverside - creating an environment where families, office workers and older people can relax, young children can play safely, and everyone can enjoy time by the river.

Sustainability

It is no secret that Westminster suffers from some of the worst pollution in the country.  It is the biggest concern among residents and a leading priority for the council. Under the City Plan the developers will create better green and open space as well as ensuring new major developments are air quality neutral. The consultation runs for 6 weeks until 31 July 2019. 

Following the consultation the plan will be submitted for independent examination in public – with the policies gaining weight in planning decisions as they get closer to adoption in early 2020. 

Find out more and read the City Plan in full

Ends

For further comment contact Ed Blackwell on 0207 641 3772 – eblackwell@westminster.gov.uk

Last updated: 19 June 2019