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Church Street Area, Westminster

400 homes on three estates in Westminster's Church Street Area are under threat of demolition.

Church street Area is located in Maida Vale, situated beside the Regent's Canal and in close proximity of Regent's Park. It was designated as being situated within a Housing Renewal zone in Westminster's draft 2019-2040 Local Plan.

It is also within the boundary of the Edgeware Road Housing Zone, one of 30 special housing zones designated by the Mayor to deliver accelerated housing development. The Edgeware Road zone is expected to deliver 1700 new homes of which this site will provide 1167.

Residents of Westminster's Church street estate were balloted in 2013, with 87% of eligible residents voting in favour of redevelopment - albeit only 25% of residents turned out for the vote.

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The scheme underlying the ballot was then shelved in 2015 a new masterplan was drawn up. In 2018, Westminster Council announced that it would be holding any more ballots for further phases of the scheme. This was met by protest from the Mayor who threatened to withdraw £23m of funding. As with its other schemes like the Ebury Bridge estate, Westminster is now proceeding without Mayoral funding in order to avoid having to ballot residents.

Its December 2021 planning application documents give the following explanation for not balloting residents:

Extract from the Council's Regeneration Statement

It is entirely within the Mayor's powers to call in this planning application for its failure to seek Mayoral funding. The requirement to seek grant funding is included both in Policy 3.12 of the London Plan (Section A, subsection [g]) and the Mayor's estate regeneration guidance:

"The council or housing association should seek gap funding. The Greater London Authority (GLA) has affordable housing grant funding that can be used for this purpose, though when considering applications the Mayor must be confident that all options for funding the scheme without grant, such as other landlord resources and optimising the density of a proposed scheme, have been fully explored." (page 16)

Whether the Mayor will take action or turn a blind eye to Westminster's dupery remains to be seen. Note that when it came to Westminster playing the same trick with the Ebury Bridge estate, the Mayor turned a blind eye.

The 400 homes under threat are located in what has been labelled sites A, B and C:

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In February 2021, Westminster Council came under fire after it was reported that retailers had been served with notices to quit in the next phase of the Council's redevelopment of the Church Street area estates.

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Westminster's policy for leaseholder re-housing requires leaseholders to take out a new mortgage if they want to take up the Council's shared equity offer on a new home being built as part of the scheme.

Links: Westminster Council has a dedicated website for the Church Street regeneration.

Pre-application consultation booklet

Resident consulation report

Planning application documents, ref:021/08160/COOUT