Councillor Liza Begum
Councillor Liza Begum

On 8th of June Westminster City Council approved the Darwin House and Balmoral Castle pub redevelopment at the Major Planning Applications Committee meeting.

Newly elected Councillor Liza Begum attended the meeting in person to represent local residents. In her deputation she raised concerns over safeguarding processes for Darwin House residents, the dissatisfaction of residents with the consultation period, the lack of social housing in the current plans and the impact phase 2 would have on the grade II listed buildings which were in close proximity to the proposed building facing the riverside (block B).

Councillor Begum asked the committee to exhaust all other options before resorting to demolition in Churchill Gardens which is an award-winning conservation area. Councillor Begum concluded by asking the committee to consider the following before a decision was made:

  1. residents’ concerns to be responded to adequately,
  2. safeguarding processes to be put into place to protect Darwin House residents,
  3. socially rented homes should be included in any proposed plans
  4. that plans meet the needs of the existing community and respect the landscape of the area.

Churchill Ward Councillor Liza Begum said:

“Labour Councillors are extremely disappointed that the proposals have been approved. This is a perfect example of why the Westminster City Plan written by local Conservatives needs an overhaul and why the council must improve its approach to consultation.

A large number of residents are unhappy with the plans and a petition has reached over 500 signatures. But the committee’s hands were tied by local policies passed by Conservative controlled Westminster. This needs to change so that the real needs of the community are taken into account.

If Labour are elected to run the council in May 2022 we will undertake an urgent review of all uncompleted council developments to see how they can deliver more social housing and better meet the needs of residents.”

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