Consultation on the new City Plan (2019-2040) for Westminster is underway. The foreword from Councillor Richard Beddoe stresses the key objectives of the plan, which range from increasing affordable housing, to the preservation of heritage assets, to the enhancement of the environment.
Westminster City Plan – An overview
The plan is peppered with key stats which give an idea of the complexities faced in accommodating an increase in housing, maintaining and enabling new infrastructure and the associated benefits to the economy that these will present in an area that has limited development space. For example, not only is Westminster one of the most densely populated areas of London, it has 11,000 listed buildings and structures, 56 conservation areas, 23 Historic Parks and 3 scheduled monuments. Furthermore, its bustling economy not only gives them the highest economic output of any local authority but also the largest night-time economy in the UK.
The anticipated opening of the Elizabeth Line and works on Crossrail 2, will create further opportunities in the Westminster Plan and specifically the Tottenham Road Opportunity Area which has a remit for further intensification as a result of these big infrastructure projects.
The Paddington Opportunity Area seeks to build upon the past two decades of increased provision of office space, with further office space encouraged along with some diversification to encourage long-term commercial growth that is responding to new flexible working practises.
There is a clear awareness of the need to maximise on limited space, whilst preserving heritage assets, maintaining and improving green space and ensuring that Westminster remains a desirable place to live and work. Therefore, creative and coordinated solutions to this challenge are sought by the Council from architects and developers to demonstrate flair and innovation to achieve these aims.
Housing need vs housing opportunities
Intensification and optimisation of land are key themes that are repeated throughout the plan as the City Council focuses on the delivery of affordable housing given the projected increase in population for the area. You can get a real sense of the restrictions faced in our map above, which highlights in yellow all the areas which have development constraints.
Given the dense population and constraints on available land, the plan seeks to achieve efficient use of what remains by focussing on adding more growth to existing urbanised areas – so think, up, out and infill. There is also an acknowledgment of the need to use brownfield land inventively to inspire the delivery of jobs and homes that are needed.
Following the publication of the draft London Plan, which sets the housing targets for all London Boroughs, Westminster have stated that they are looking to deliver 1,495 homes per year in the first 10 years of the plan, with 22,222 new homes delivered by the end of the plan period though Spatial Strategies and policies that will seek to:
- encourage the use of tall buildings in certain areas;
- optimise site densities on key development locations;
- focus on the use of ‘small sites’ and the promotion of appropriate upward extensions.
They also propose a restriction on the size of new homes not exceeding 200 sqm GIA (unless necessary to protect a heritage asset) and restrictions on Change of Use applications to existing residential units.
How do I get involved in the Westminster City Plan?
The Regulation 19 Consultation seeks the input of residents, landowners, architects, developers and any other interested parties to say whether the plan is legally compliant, sound and whether the plan has been prepared in accordance with the Duty to Cooperate.
This feedback is then presented to the Inspector who will decide whether the plan is sound and suitable for adoption.
To give you a flavour of the types of things that have already been altered, at a previous Regulation 18 consultation, a variety of consultation feedback was made which altered a range of items, including;
- proposed policy wording to give better clarity;
- changed size limits for residential housing;
- amendments to targets for family sized homes.
This current review seeks to assess if the plan is legally compliant, sound and prepared in accordance with the Duty to Co-operate.
The form for feedback can be accessed here, but if you want to have your say and ensure that your ambitions for Westminster are being met by the new Local Plan and need assistance in researching and presenting your points then we can certainly assist.
The team here at Plainview Planning are experienced at making insightful, meticulous and strategic representations to ensure the views of our clients are heard. If you want help in formulating a relevant response to this consultation or, have a site that you think might be suitable for development to help Westminster deliver their growth targets, then contact the team at Plainview Planning to see how we can best assist and to receive a fee quote for our services. You can contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org or alternatively submit your site details and requirements via out Landmark Form. We value your privacy and any information which you provide will not be shared outside of our company and will only be used in relation to your enquiry.
INFORMATION SOURCE: Regulation 19 draft of The Westminster City Plan, June 2019
IMAGE SOURCE: Plainview Planning 2019