Pages tagged "Planning"

Westminster Labour's 2018 Council Election Manifesto


After decades of the Conservatives taking Westminster for granted, residents have a real chance to change the future of this city. Years of Conservative cuts have taken their toll on local services, particularly for the most vulnerable. The Conservatives have put the needs of developers above the needs of the vast majority of local residents. For generations they have failed to build the Council (social rent) and lower (intermediate) rent homes that Westminster needs to give the City a viable future.

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Labour would use the Council’s planning powers to help protect Soho and Chinatown

Labour is deeply concerned that some of Westminster’s most iconic areas are under threat and that action needs to be taken by the council to help protect them. Soho has fallen victim to over-development, pressures from Crossrail, rising rents and the encroachment of global high street. If action is not taken now to save it, what makes these areas unique may be lost for ever. Similarly Chinatown is facing similar encroachment and pressure from rising rents.

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Labour will provide a planning system that puts residents first, making developers pay their fair share, restricting the spread of new tall towers and ‘iceberg basements’

Labour joins campaign to save The Roadhouse in Covent Garden

We (the Labour Council Candidates for St James' ward) are opposing the Capital & Counties (Capco) planning application for The Roadhouse premises at 35 The Piazza, WC2. In a letter to the Council’s Director of Planning, John Walker, we say:

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KEY PLEDGE: Labour will reform planning to put residents before developers

If elected to lead Westminster Council in May Labour Councillors will introduce a series of reforms to ensure the planning system works for the many not the few. For too long Westminster Conservatives have treated residents as an afterthought in a planning process geared towards the needs of major developers. We think it is time for a change, particularly in the wake of the public scandal around the excessive use of hospitality and the overbearing political influence of Conservative Deputy Leader Cllr Robert Davis.

Westminster Labour’s planning reforms would include:

  • Preventing councillors from accepting hospitality from individual developers and their agents
  • Requiring the council to record all meetings between Cabinet or Planning Committee Members and developers. Officers should always be present and a summary should be published online.
  • Giving residents the right to speak at planning committee meetings to present their case-Westminster is virtually alone amongst local authorities in preventing residents from doing so.
  • Providing more information explaining how the planning system works, including jargon busting, to help residents have their say.
  • Establishing a ‘Design Panel for Westminster’ to allow professional architects, other experts and interested residents to give external advice to planning committees on design aspects of major planning proposals.
  • Creating a new strategic projects planning committee with a large membership to prevent major applications being dominated by the whims of over-powerful individual councillors.
  • Scrapping the Council’s Tall Building Strategy to restrict the spread of towers across Westminster.

Labour to scrap Westminster Council’s tall building plans

Westminster Labour Group are committing to scrapping the Conservative Council’s proposed approach to tall buildings if Labour are elected to run Westminster at the May 3rd Council Elections.

In March 2017 Westminster Council launched a consultation on its plans entitled Building height: Getting the right kind of growth for Westminster where it extolled the potential benefits of increasing the number of tall buildings across Westminster. After initial resident anger the Council has delayed coming forward with its final plans as part of the delayed Westminster City Plan process- the results of which risk not being announced before the election.

Westminster Labour is open to exploring increased density or the addition of one or two floors to existing buildings in appropriate locations if such development delivers clear benefits for local residents. However it is strongly opposed to the elements of the Council’s current approach that could see the spread of tall buildings beyond the current clusters or see significant intensification of towers within the clusters.

Recent controversial tall buildings approved by Westminster Council include the Paddington Cube (originally the even more controversial Paddington Pole), West End Gate and Hathaway House.

Westminster Labour Group Leader Cllr Adam Hug said “Labour will scrap the Council’s proposals on tall buildings that could allow the spread of towers across Westminster. Instead we will look to work with local people about how to deliver well-designed, lower-rise high density schemes that benefit our residents as well as our business communities.”


Westminster Council’s Building Height Policy Context Document sets out the approach currently being proposed by the Conservatives:

(Westminster Council’s) current City Plan identifies three Opportunity Areas (Paddington, Victoria and Tottenham Court Road (shared with LB Camden)) where we wish to encourage a substantial increase in new homes and commercial uses. These areas are appropriate, in principle, for larger and higher buildings and higher density developments. Both Paddington and Victoria have seen dramatic changes in appearance with a number of new, higher and larger buildings with denser patterns of development being completed over the past 15-20 years. This, combined with a huge investment in public transport improvements and improved public realm, has resulted in the remaking of places with unrealised potential. Victoria, an area previously dominated by government and public sector bodies, has now become a destination of choice for financial services, technology companies and global HQs, as well as places where people are glad to come to work, visit and – increasingly – live.

 Outside of the CAZ and our three opportunity areas we think there are other parts of the City where higher buildings and denser development could be allowed and would spread the benefits of growth and investment. We have identified our North Westminster Economic Development Area (NWEDA) as an area for economic renewal. NWEDA includes four of the most deprived wards in the City; the Church Street Regeneration Area, Westbourne, Harrow Road and Queen’s Park. Looking to the future should we encourage higher buildings in both the Church Street regeneration area (including within the Mayor’s Strategic Housing Zone) and Edgware Road (south of the Marylebone Flyover)? Where there are already higher buildings, is there scope for others? Similarly, could the Harrow Road be an appropriate location for higher buildings to bring in the new homes, commercial space and jobs that are needed? We would welcome your thoughts on the appropriateness of all of these areas for higher and larger buildings that make more intense use of available land.

Labour will clean up the planning system by ending hospitality from developers

Labour believes that under Conservative control Westminster Council has put the needs of property developers first for far too long. For decades they have let developers get away with building far fewer ‘affordable’ homes than required under Westminster’s planning policy, they have pushed through controversial schemes and promoted an approach to architecture based on the whims of senior councillors.

There is a clear perception that senior Conservative councillors have a very close relationships with developers. For example the Conservative Deputy Leader of the Council Cllr Robert Davis has had to disclose that since the start of 2015 he has received hospitality related to his role as a City Councillor from developers, big business and other interests a record 514 times. This equates to a staggering 14 cases of declarable hospitality a month, peaking at a ludicrous 47 incidents in December 2016. Labour believes that such an approach does not help build public trust that the Council will put the needs of residents before those of property developers and business interests.

If elected to run the Council in May Labour will engage with industry representatives in open settings to share views and push for residents priorities but we will do so whilst working to achieve the highest standards. Labour commits that:

  • Labour Cabinet Members and Councillors will not accept hospitality from individual developers and their agents.
  • Labour will require the Council to formally record all meetings between Cabinet Members and developers when discussing individual schemes. There will always be an officer present.
  • A record of these meetings will be posted on the Council website within two weeks.

Cllr Adam Hug said “Labour will act to change the broken culture at Westminster Council so that we put the needs of residents before those of developers. Councillors should have a transparent relationship with developers and other powerful interests so that residents can be assured that their representatives are fighting for them rather than dining out on developers’ expense accounts.”


There is no suggestion Cllr Davis has broken any laws or rules


The Conservative Case for Disruption: Tory Cabinet Minister confirms Government opposition to regulating Airbnb

Conservative Cabinet Minister Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has used a major speech at the think tank Policy Exchange to attack a bill put forward by Westminster North Labour MP Karen Buck that seeks to restrict the spread of homes in Westminster being used permanently by Airbnb and other short let operators.

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