Churchill Ward’s Labour councillors (Cllr Liza Begum and Cllr Shamim Talukder) have written to the Council’s planning department to set out their concerns about the Westminster’s proposed redevelopment Darwin House, Balmoral Castle Pub & Garages, after listing to issues raised by local residents. They are worried about the impact of the design on neighbouring residents, the lack of social housing, problems around accessing the site during construction and the impact on local parking.
Their letter read:
Dear Mr Dorwood,
RE: Darwin House Redevelopment Planning Application 20/06899/COFUL
We write in respect of the phased Redevelopment of Darwin House, Balmoral Castle Pub & Garages.
We would like to raise a number of concerns regarding the current proposals on behalf of local residents, including the local residents association and other representative bodies, who have shared their issues with the scheme. Many residents have raised concerns about how the pandemic has impacted the consultation and the planning process so there a strong case for allowing additional time for resident engagement by deferring the proposed planning committee on June 8th.
The current proposals offer 34 new community supported homes (for Darwin house residents) and 18 new homes for intermediate rent.
Churchill Gardens Estate is a conservation area with grade II listed landscaping as awarded by Historic England, so it is important that the Council gets the scheme right. We are concerned that the current design of the development is not in keeping with the design of the estate and would result in a major loss of privacy and light to residents living in the surrounding blocks, particularly for those in Maitland house, Shelley house and the riverside Georgian villas on Grosvenor road, with the latter two being listed structures. Further efforts must be taken to reduce the impact of any development on these residents.
Phase 2 of the current redevelopment proposes a block of 18 units of intermediate housing with no plans for any general needs social housing. Given the housing pressures in Churchill Gardens, including serious overcrowding and long-standing residents being pushed into temporary housing, as well as a Westminster wide housing waiting list of over 4000, we believe that this scheme should provide new social housing (with a local lettings policy) to address this problem.
During the construction period, we are concerned about the level of disturbance to residents and the impact on road traffic. We have been led to believe the only access for construction vehicles will be Churchill Gardens Road, which is a narrow road serves residents in Churchill Gardens estate and children going to St Gabriel’s Primary School furthermore the east end of Churchill Gardens road has height restrictions. Residents are concerned about noise pollution, years of demolition, piling and construction noise will impact residents particularly the elderly and young children. Darwin house residents will be some of the most effected. It is important that further steps are taken to mitigate the impact of any construction on existing residents, both around construction and traffic management.
Many residents have noted the parking pressures on Churchill Gardens Estate with a waiting list of upto 2 years for a parking permit. We believe that the council should look to make the development of additional units, currently the intermediate Block B, be truly car free (without the ability to apply for parking permits or provision of onsite parking) to help minimise additional parking pressure and help the council meet its climate goals.
We support the need for new homes for Darwin house residents but believe that any proposed plans should meet the needs of the existing community.
We look forward to hearing from you,
Cllr Liza Begum and Cllr Shamim Talukder