Labour Councillors have urged the Council to reject the Westbrook plans for Dolphin Square to be considered on 4th June.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Labour Environment and City Management spokesperson, said
“It is extremely disappointing that Planning Officers are recommending that planning permission is granted for these inappropriate and damaging proposals. The plans should be refused for the following reasons:
- The Westbrook proposals have been the subject of huge local opposition – from individual Dolphin Square residents, from the St George’s Square Residents’ Association, Dolphin Square Preservation Society and Protect Our Pimlico. There have been over 170 individual letters against the proposals and a petition signed by over 2,200 people.
- There is no doubt the Dolphin Square is a unique building. The books, “A History of Dolphin Square” by K.F. Morris and “Wartime in Dolphin Square” by Dolphin Square resident Jan Prebble, both demonstrate why Dolphin Square’s special place in the 20thCentury should not be damaged by inappropriate and damaging development. Dolphin Square’s design and construction methods represented ground-breaking innovation in the 1930s and was intended to resist collapse in the event of aerial bombardment and indeed survived about a dozen bombs.
- Dolphin Square also lies at the heart of the Dolphin Square Conservation Areaand the inappropriate and damaging proposals submitted by Westbrook will clearly damage the Conservation Area. In particular, the demolition of Rodney House and its replacement by a new, larger and taller building will destroy the integrity of Dolphin Square and the Conservation Area.
- The Dolphin Square Gardens have been given a Grade II listing which will be severely compromised by the Westbrook proposals.
- The proposals will result in the loss of family-sized flats of three and four bedroomsby their conversion into bedsits and small, one-bed flats. This undermines Westminster Council’s stated aim of seeking to increase the number of long-term residents who contribute to the community.
- The way in which Westbrook currently manages Dolphin Square has led to a growing proportion of the building being used as serviced-apartments or as an hotel, which further undermines the residential community and the availability of homes for rent locally. This unacceptable practice will clearly continue apace if Westbrook is given consent for this ill-conceived plan, to the detriment of the local community.
- The financial appraisal in regard to affordable housing has relied on information given by Westbrook which is at odds with information in the public domain. Westbrook claim a valuation of £850 million for the land whereas the actual purchase price paid by Westbrook was about £400 million. As a result, the derisory affordable housing offer is considerably less than required by the Council’s planning policies
- The density of the proposals is not acceptable. Around 250 new flats are proposed, all for short-term lettings. The 7-acre Dolphin Square site already has 1,250 homes and is denser than any other development in Pimlico or even the whole of the UK.
- Both TflL and Thames Water have raised concerns about the proposals. TfL questions the transport infrastructure. Thames Water states there is insufficient water supply and sewage infrastructure. There are no Section 106 agreements proposed in regard to both these matters.
- At a time of growing housing needs, it is very disappointing that these proposals for more short-term, hotel-type units do nothing for Westminster’s immediate and long-term housing needs.