Councillor Matt Noble
Councillor Matt Noble

Church Street Councillor Matt Noble, Labour’s Regeneration and Property spokesperson, said:

“Now that the Church Street Masterplan statutory consultation stage has ended, it is vital that the expressed views of residents have a decisive bearing on which of the four options is chosen. This is even more important following the Council’s refusal to give residents a vote on the master plan scheme. If that means editing one of the four options to most closely match those views, then the Council must do so. Regeneration must be to the benefit of local people, businesses and other organisations and not simply a means to hit housing delivery targets.

Whichever vision is selected, we are very concerned at the proposed shoe-horning of so many services into the Lilestone ‘hub’ and losing the green space where Greenside Community Centre stands now. This concern at the loss of a safe play area was very apparent at the recent AGM of the Lisson Green Tenants and Residents Association. 

Equally worrying is the continued absence of any future accommodation provision for Westminster Adult Education Service within the Church Street Ward following the proposed development of the site on which it currently stands. The regeneration scheme has supposed economic benefits for the area as well as residential ones, so losing local education and training provision would be illogical and wrong-headed.

In practical terms it is obvious that Westminster’s own long-term housing delivery targets will not be met with Options 1 or 2, neither of which involve large-scale demolition of existing homes.

Option 3 is the slightly more sympathetic vision which notably would preserve the quite handsome Dutch gabled frontage on Edgware Road. It would also mean not demolishing Kennet House merely to replace it with a similar sized tower on the opposite side of Church Street.

Option 4 corresponds with the 2017 master plan document. Either of Options 3 and 4 would cause enormous disruption to the entire area for years to come, but the latter goes far beyond what is necessary and reasonable.

After re-providing existing council homes Option 4 delivers less than a third affordable housing of any category. Putting this into context, there are over 2,600 Westminster families staying in temporary accommodation and lower quartile rent on a 2-bedroom flat is 91% of lower quartile earnings.

It is deeply perplexing therefore as to why Westminster City Council chose not to apply for any of the more than £1bn in Mayoral funding which was available and could have delivered more council homes, because a resident ballot was necessary. If the Council are really delivering what residents told them was most important in previous consultation stages, then winning that support in a vote should be a mere formality.”

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