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Build them high? Westminster looks to go taller in new housing developments

Poll of residents launched to gauge support for new towers

31 March, 2017 — By Alina Polianskaya

How the ‘Paddington Cube’ will look

COUNCIL chiefs say there is potential for “significantly taller buildings” in a new poll of residents about the height of new housing developments.

Westminster City Hall has launched a consultation this week that says the council will consider tall building extensions and large-scale opportunities to meet demand for housing.

The consultation has been slammed by campaigners as “naive” and a threat to the historic skyline of central London. Barbara Weiss, from the Skyline Campaign, said: “It is a huge mistake to build in ­central London which is already incredibly dense. I think Westminster is being incredibly naive in coming out with this consultation. There might be something that is six or seven storeys that could take an extra two storeys, but it has to be done very carefully as otherwise you could ruin the character of London. If you look at Vauxhall Nine Elms, it is a disaster, and we don’t want the whole of London looking like that.”

Cynthia Poole of the St Marylebone Society added: “Westminster is an important and historic area of London and 70 per cent of it is designated as ‘conservation areas’. Significant changes of policy to permit taller buildings within these areas could have a seriously detrimental effect on the historic architecture and character of our city.”

The council’s consultation says: “While there are still some larger-scale opportunities in places like Paddington and Victoria, the scale of growth means we have to look wider. In particular, there is potential to get more out of sites by having more intense development, building higher than at present – or where appropriate, considering significantly taller buildings. At the other end of the scale there can be careful adaptation or extension of existing buildings”.

The number of people living in the borough is expected to rise from 226,000 to 262,000 by 2036. The council say they need to find 21,000 new homes for them. Westminster Council’s cabinet member for planning and public realm, Daniel Astaire said: “Accomm­odating this growth needn’t necessarily mean tall buildings, in many cases it will simply mean an extra storey here and there and building behind the façades where possible, as we have seen with great success along Regent Street”.

People can have their say until May 22 at https://openforum.westminster.gov.uk/buildingheight

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