Council slammed for luxury flat plans with no affordable housing
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Development, Housing
Labour councillors have slammed Westminster Council's decision to give planning permission for 198 luxury flats without including any affordable housing.
And according to Labour, the Conservatives on the planning committee accepted only 42% of the amount of money payable for providing off-site affordable housing when it considered four major planning applications in the West End, losing the council over £26,700,000 in payments to the Affordable Housing Fund.
Instead of receiving £46,779,063, the council will get only £19,992,000.
Labour say the proposals break down into:
• 78 luxury apartments on Palace Street and Buckingham Gate. Under the agreed planning policy the applicants should have paid the council £18,967,063 for not including any affordable housing on site. Instead, the applicant’s offer of £8,680,00 was accepted.
• 89 luxury apartments on Oxford Street. The applicants should have paid £9,782,000 for not including any affordable housing on site. Instead, £4,250,000 was accepted.
• 31 luxury apartments on Curzon Street. The council should have been paid £6,830,000 by the developers for not including any affordable housing on site but accepted £5,062,000.
• A 99-bed five star hotel and two restaurants at the listed Bow Street Magistrates' Court which is a ‘building at risk’. The decision to grant planning permission was deferred but the council would have been willing to accept £2 million in lieu of on-site affordable instead of the £11,200,000 required under the council’s planning policies – a loss of £9,200,000.
Councillor Barbara Grahame, Labour’s planning spokesperson, said: “Not only have the Conservatives allowed yet more offices to be converted to luxury housing with absolutely no affordable housing to be built, but they have ignored their own planning policies and have lost over £26m which should have gone towards building new affordable homes elsewhere in Westminster.
“The Conservatives are determined to make the West End even more of a ‘rich-man’s playground’ with nowhere for those on modest or low incomes can afford to live.
"Westminster Conservatives are ruining the West End and fuelling the current problems caused more luxury apartments which are bought by overseas investors and left empty for months at a time.
"The only way to ensure a mixed and lively West End community is to build more affordable homes, including social homes let at prices that ordinary families can afford. Westminster should require applicants for new apartments to build affordable homes on site as part of the development.”
Ben Denton, Westminster Council’s strategic director for housing and property said: “The £19m affordable housing contributions will deliver more than 190 affordable homes off-site, whereas if they were delivered as part of these developments far fewer homes would have been possible. So these contributions are a vital source of funding for the provision of affordable homes in Westminster.
“Since forming our Affordable Housing Fund, we have spent £80m delivering more than 1,000 homes that provide high quality and value for money accommodation.”