Westminster allows luxury flat developement in Paddington with just 16 affordable homes
PUBLISHED: 20:00 02 August 2017
Berkeley Homes said building more affordable homes was financially unviable after originally planning none at all just as Westminster leader pledges crack down
Westminster council has allowed Berkeley Homes to limbo under red tape in order to enlarge its West End Green development in Paddington. The house builder will create 200 luxury flats at Paddington Green, with just 16 per cent offered at affordable prices, totalling 32 apartments.
The homes are advertised as ‘the height of refinement’ and will range between one, two and three bedroom flats with access to a pool with spa, gym, cinema room and business lounge. The first launch is already sold out, with new properties coming onto the market in the autumn.
The planning sub committee’s report states that 19 homes will be available at social rent, with 13 at intermediate rent, ‘the maximum that the applicant can viably provide’.
The news will be unlikely to surprise housing campaigners, local residents and house hunters faced with prices in the fourteen storey building starting at £850,000. Last month, developers at Battersea slashed the number of affordable homes they had previously pledged due to financial viability as selling off-plan releases liquidity with which to build.
In June, leader of Westminster council Nickie Aiken pledged to crack the whip over the “cosy cabal” between luxury developers and councils that “sell (their) golden postcodes to the highest bidder” who did not provide adequate levels of affordable housing, announcing a threshold of 35 per cent. She commented more recently that “City for All is not just some vacuous slogan.”
Unfortunately, Cllr Aiken’s comments came two days late for the sub committee who recommended planning permission and listed building consent, praising the ‘the provision of a high quality series of buildings and permeable public spaces’. The report also noted that the development of the site would rid the area of an eyesore.
Berkeley bought the disused car park at Paddington Green in 2015, promising 200 homes with space for offices, community facilities and retail. Cllr Robert Davis, Deputy Leader of Westminster Council said at the time: “We are delighted this vacant site has been acquired by Berkeley Homes and will finally deliver much needed new homes and jobs after being vacant for so long.”
He added: “The new development will deliver significant benefits to the community including on site facilities, payments to improved infrastructure as well new job opportunities and apprenticeships.”
Westminster council is committed to delivering 1,850 new affordable homes in Westminster by 2023. Last month, Sadiq Khan announced £7 million for new affordable homes in Camden. Westminster is to receive no funding, but 105 homes. The Mayor has final approval on the new Paddington development.
At least the council’s emphasis on affordable homes didn’t fall on deaf ears, however, with Berkeley upping their original offer of none at all. The development will now include 16 affordable flats, suggesting merely selective hearing instead.