Westminster Labour welcomes many aspects of the City Plan, especially the renewed focus on building new homes in the heart of London, but it’s disappointing that the Council has chosen not to fully address the key issues of Climate Change and housing for low income families.
Westminster Labour has been calling on the Council to issue a Special Planning Guidance that builds on the new City Plan to accelerate the move to a zero Carbon City. This should consider areas such as:
- Pushing for all new buildings to be operationally zero carbon by 2030 with requirement to publish real-time data from the building management systems that measure in-life performance
- Planning applications to include the net CO2 generated by the demolition of old building and the construction of new buildings
- Zero carbon emission targets by 2030 for District Heating (including the Pimlico District Heating Undertaking)
- Specific targets for change in transport usage to low or zero carbon modes
- Specific targets for urban greening in new developments to deliver 50% green coverage, helping make London a national park city
- Identify and promote green corridors joining up existing green space
- All new developments to demonstrate how they will increase biodiversity
On housing, Westminster Labour argue that the new City Plan should have:
- Maintained the proportions of affordable housing at 60% social and 40% intermediate. The new plan reverses this ratio which would lead to over 100 fewer new social rent homes each year
- Ensured that on public land that all social and affordable homes should be replaced one-for-one and that at least 50% of any additional homes should be at social rent or properly affordable rents; Policies on height of new buildings in force across Westminster should apply in renewal areas as they do elsewhere in the city.
Westminster also remains committed to the need for residents ballots where home demolition takes place.
Westminster Labour’s other key recommendations are:
- All new developments should be genuinely car-free. That is, no on-site parking and no availability of parking permits for on-street parking either. Other central London boroughs do this. So should Westminster.
- All new or refurbished buildings, commercial or residential, should be supplied with at least 1 gigabyte broadband
- While we welcome the decision that only small hotels should be permitted in Soho, we call for the Plan to revert to the original definition of “small” as 35 rooms, not 100 as in the final version. One hundred rooms is not a small hotel.
Beyond the City Plan but at the heart of the planning process Labour continues to believe that Westminster should establish a Design Review Panel to provide independent advice on major planning applications so that we maintain the highest possible standards of elegance, sustainability and functionality in our new buildings.
Cllr Geoff Barraclough, Labour’s planning spokesperson said “The City Plan was drafted before the Council voted to declare a climate emergency but hasn’t been updated with the extra measures it needs. We need urgent action to accelerate the move to zero carbon.”
He added: “The City Plan does little for the 2,200 Westminster families who woke up in temporary accommodation this morning. The decision to favour intermediate rents will result in 100 fewer homes for social rent each year than under the previous policy.”
At full Council this week the Conservatives rejected a Labour amendment that would have committed it to taking further action in the Council’s planning rules to address the Climate Emergency and blocked Labour efforts to retain the previous 60% social housing/ 40% intermediate housing ratio for new affordable housing. However Labour will keep fighting for change.