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City plan ‘aims for 20,000 new homes’

Labour warn: ‘If the private sector doesn’t build, we won’t get affordable housing we need’

26 April, 2021 — By Tom Foot

Cllr Geoff Barraclough

A NEW framework governing the next 20 years of Westminster City Council’s planning system was approved at the full council meeting on Wednesday night.

The Conservatives said the City Plan 2019-2040 will “exceed the expectations of the people who live here” and pave the way for 20,000 new homes while ensuring residents have a more powerful voice against big developments.

The Labour opposition has backed the plan, but with reservations and warnings that it may end up curdling over time, like milk rather than “fine wine”.

Cllr Geoff Barraclough, the Labour group’s planning spokesman, said he “remained concerned that the plan retained headline housing targets reliant on the assumption developers will keep developing”.

He said: “It is internally conflicted between calls for increased density developments and a raft of restrictions that makes this harder in practice.

“Westminster is right to prioritise housing. Yet if the private sector doesn’t build, we won’t get affordable housing we need. We cannot rely on the private sector.

“We need to see clarifications here on trade-offs planning officers will be asked to make, otherwise it will be who shouts loudest.

“Good news for Westminster Property Association, bad news for our residents.”

The city plan sets ambitious targets for more housing, better cycling routes, more parks, better air quality, jobs, boosting retail in the West End and “broadening the city’s cultural offer”.

It has been approved by an independent planning inspector but Labour’s Cllr David Boothroyd told the meeting it had not been wholeheartedly endorsed.

He added: “Let us hope this plan will mature like fine wine and not like fine milk.”

Cllr Matthew Green, the city council’s cabinet member for business, licensing and planning said: “The refreshed plan is designed for the 21st century. It is vastly more suitable than the outdated framework. Coronavirus proved how much we need flexibility. It is a huge step in ambition to build a city for all.”

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