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‘Overdevelopment’ fears as Church Street homes plans are revealed

17 May, 2019 — By Tom Foot

An artist’s sketch hints at the scale of the Option 4 proposal

A MASSIVE housing development and regeneration programme would “seriously overdevelop the most populated ward in London”, councillors have been warned.

The Church Street Ward Neighbourhood Forum (CSWNF) said this week the overhaul of housing in the Church Street area would “add too many homes to an already densely packed area”.

Residents were not given a vote on the over-arching “masterplan” and now a consultation on potential designs has ended.

One of the options could see 1,600 new homes built adjacent to Church Street, 130 close to Lilestone Street, and 190 on the site of the council offices in Orchardson Street.
A decision on how to proceed will be made by the Westminster Council’s cabinet.

CSWNF said: “Any plans for Church Street must prove their worth by making clear how they deliver for the great number of young people in our community. There is a deplorable shortage of provision especially for young adults at present. Not just Greenside is important, but also, for example, the basketball court behind Kennet House in Site C. Any redevelopment should also revive the sunken pitch on what is site B.”

The market in 1954. PHOTO: V BARNES © Westminster City Archives

Four design options have been put forward and the CSWNF is calling on the council not to choose “Option 4”, warning it will introduce too many homes and harm the neighbourhood.

The forum has called for Option 3 as the “only chance of reconciling external housing targets” and to “preserve some of the heritage that characterises our neighbourhood”.

The forum said Option 3 would be financially viable if street properties along Edgware Road, between Church Street and Boscobel Street, were redeveloped.

Options 1 or 2 are believed to not be realistic as they do not come close to meeting housing targets.

There are also concerns about the potential “colocation” of Church Street library and other community facilities. It is also not clear where Westminster Adult Education Service (WAES), which sits on one of the sites due to be redeveloped, will be moved to if the changes are approved.

Church Street, south side, in 1953. PHOTO: R BURNETT © Westminster City Archives

Church Street councillor and Labour regeneration spokesman Matt Noble said: “Now that the Church Street Masterplan statutory consultation stage has ended, it is vital that the expressed views of residents have a decisive bearing on which of the four options is chosen.”

Church Street connects Edgware Road with Lisson Grove and is home to a historic market that was established in 1830. It contains a large amount of properties built mainly in the 1950s post-war social housing boom, following heavy bombing in the Blitz.

The council in 2017 agreed a vision for Church Street that would see the creation of 1,750 new homes and up to 40 per cent more publicly accessible open space.

When the consultation was launched in March, Westminster’s regeneration and property chief Cllr Rachael Robathan said: “This is an exciting time and I am passionate about delivering something really positive for our Church Street community. We want to get a really clear idea of what works best for local people, before any decisions are made.

“Please take the time to consider carefully and give us your views in this consultation.

“We want as many people as possible to have the chance to share their opinion and help guide us.

“So please speak to family and friends in the area and encourage them to take part.”

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