Westminster Council Planning department
I write to object to the current proposal for 285-329 Edgware Road (West End Green) with specific reference to the inconsistency of the tower proposal with the Council’s current tall buildings policy, the inadequate timescale for consultation/community involvement, and the inadequate arrangements for affordable housing.
I am pleased that the West End Green site is finally due for development after decades in which it stood empty. London needs more homes and the capacity to continue to grow its (sustainable) economy, and it is entirely possible to increase density without having a detrimental impact upon the wider community. However, each major scheme must be considered on its individual merits, both in terms of design and impact.
My concerns over this scheme are:
1) Westminster Council’s tall buildings policy proposes one additional tower in Paddington, at 1 Merchant Square. The policy is, I believe, due for revision, yet both this scheme and the proposed 72-storey tower at 31 London Street face being rushed from outline to planning permission over the course of just a few weeks, and in the absence of a revised policy. Towers can be aesthetically attractive and are, indeed, a key component of world cities, but there should be proper public consultation on both the policy and these individual major schemes given the level of public concern. This is perhaps especially the case given the proximity of conservation areas and the strong views held by both local residents and many others concerned with the London skyline.
2) Out of the proposed 691 flats, an unacceptably low number of 154 (22%) are designated as ‘affordable’ . This is despite both the depth of the housing crisis- which impacts especially on lower-middle earners, and Westminster Council’s own (already inadequate) guidance that developments should include 30% affordable.
3) I note the concerns expressed by the local health practice regarding their capacity to meet the primary care needs of additional population on this scale. Whilst higher population density can be made to work well, it does not happen without the commitment not only of the developers but of the Council and other agencies to ensure there is both the physical capacity (public realm, transport) and service provision (health, education, policing) to meet the needs of residents.
Karen Buck MP