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Homes target shock for developers

Property firm’s plan for 32 luxury flats in Bayswater fails to meet new ‘affordable housing’ test

01 September, 2017 — By William McLennan

Council leader Nickie Aiken

WESTMINSTER Council has announced, with great fanfare, that a planning application has been rejected because it did not include enough affordable housing.

It said plans put forward by Leeds Property Ltd to convert The Holiday Villa Hotel in Bayswater into 32 luxury flats did not meet its new 30 per cent target introduced in June.

Planning chief Cllr Daniel Astaire said: “This decision should serve as a warning to developers that the council means business when it comes to affordable housing. The council has a policy in place and we are sticking to it. If you want to build in Westminster, aff­ordable housing is a priority.”

Council leader Nickie Aiken pledged a significant change in policy earlier this year when she promised to pursue developers for more affordable housing.

The council has for several years allowed developers to cash in on prime plots of land while at the same time moving its residents in need of social housing into homes on the fringes of the capital, in places like Barking and Newham. It now aims to build 1,850 new affordable homes in Westminster by 2023.

Labour group leader Adam Hug praised the “a positive step forward” but warned that “one swallow doesn’t make a summer”, adding that recent planning decisions at West End Green, and the car park in Carrington Street had “fallen well short of the required amount of affordable housing”.

He added: “The upcoming Queensway decision looks set to be granted with only 7 per cent affordable housing, further undermining the Tory leader’s recent commitments. Residents will want to see a lot more action before they can trust the council to deliver the social and genuinely affordable housing Westminster needs.”

A council spokesman said there would have to be some flexibility on policy when it came to applications, and that this did not mean that all proposals without affordable housing would be automatically rejected from now on: “You won’t always be able to make the 30 per cent, like if you’re building a block of flats that overlook Trafalgar Square, for instance. But from this point forward you’d have to have a good reason not to for the proposal to be approved.”

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