Westminster City Council recently announced new and much more ambitious plans for the re-development of large areas of Church Street Ward.
These will affect pretty well everyone living in the area. Some directly, as residents in blocks of flats due to be demolished and re-built, and others because of the scale of the building work and the huge changes that will be made to the area over many years.
Many of the blocks due to be re-built were affected by the original, now much delayed, Futures Plan, which was backed by a vote of residents in 2012. However, this new plan brings in many blocks that were not included at that point. The Council is not planning any further votes on its new proposals.
I am writing to you to say:
This is the biggest and most ambitious regeneration scheme Westminster Council has attempted. The track record of delivery has not been great and it is essential that lessons are learned. Both the consultation with residents and the management of the scheme must be a lot better than in the past.
It is vital that all residents have a say in this process - asking questions and making your views known. Labour believes there should be a final vote on the revised scheme. But whatever happens the Council must ensure that the process produces a scheme that Church Street residents actually want.
Tenants (including some housing association tenants), leaseholders and private tenants will be affected in different ways. Proper and independent advice must be available to all to make sure all everyone’s interests are properly served.
There is a strong case for re-developing some blocks in Church Street, and there has been support for this in the past. Some blocks are not well designed, and are desperately in need of improvement. They have been allowed to decline without investment in recent years. There is also a need for new homes. In the absence of proper Government funding some of these will have to be higher-value private homes to raise money for extra Council and housing association homes and community facilities.
Westminster has a bad track record on providing truly affordable homes, whether to rent or buy, and we need more of these, not just more expensive luxury flats.
A densely populated place like Church Street needs good community facilities - not just school places and GP surgeries, but support for parents, activities for older residents and things for children and young people to do, are essential. Pleasant open spaces are part of this vision, but they are not enough on their own.
The exhibition setting out the plans is on-line at churchstreetmasterplan.org.uk or on display at the Regeneration Base at 99 Church Street NW8 until 29 October.
Please go to the exhibition, fill in the questionnaire, and talk to your friends and neighbours.
I am keen to hear your views, so please so please email or write to me to let me know what you think. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org