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Rogers’ Westminster flats ‘another nail in coffin of West End’

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A £300 million luxury apartment scheme in Westminster by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) has been slammed for its lack of affordable housing, echoing the furore over Rogers’ nearby One Hyde Park

The practice won provisional planning permission earlier this month for the development at 29-30 Old Burlington Street and 22-27 Cork Street in London’s Mayfair, which includes a nine-storey block of 42 luxury apartments.

However the decision has been slammed by Westminster City Council’s Labour Group, which described the luxury development as ‘driving another nail in the coffin of the West End community’ due to the absence of social housing. Rogers’ high-end One Hyde Park scheme less than two miles away, which also contained no on-site affordable housing, came in for similar flak when it completed in 2011.

In both cases the developers stumped up cash for the social housing element to be built elsewhere.

Councillor Barbara Grahame, Labour’s planning spokesperson, said: ‘Once again, Westminster Conservatives have given the green light for more luxury flats in the West End and have banished affordable homes elsewhere.

‘Building on-site affordable housing is the only way in which the West End can be a lively, thriving community. Building yet more luxury apartments will slowly, but surely, kill the West End.’

More luxury apartments will slowly, but surely, kill the West End

Planning permission for the development is subject to a legal agreement which includes a £6 million payment towards the authority’s affordable housing fund and £1.4 million towards local public realm works.

However, the Westminster City Council Labour Group wants affordable housing provision built into the Old Burlington Street scheme next to the Royal Academy rather than being repalced by payments into a central cash pot.

Councillor Grahame said: ‘The council’s first policy is that there should be affordable housing on site or nearby, only followed with a financial payment in lieu [if affordable housing provision is not possible]. The council is not taking its own policy seriously.’

She added: ‘They have just accepted that affordable housing is not possible. But there have always been pockets of affordable housing in Soho, Covent Garden and across Westminster. They need to make an effort. ‘

In a reference to the controversy over One Hyde Park, Grahame said: ‘Residents in affordable housing actually live in their flats, so there are no issues of houses being bought for capital value and then lying empty.’

None of the architects involved in the scheme was available to comment on the affordable housing provision.

As well as the flats, the scheme for Native Land will also consist of 1,998m2 of retail space. There were concerns that the new development would reduce the number of galleries in the area, but the developer entered into a legal agreement to guarantee floor space for new galleries equivalent to that currently on site.


Previous story (AJ 22.02.13)

Rogers to replace Cork St office

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners has submitted plans for replace an ‘outdated and architecturally unsympathetic 1980s office’ refurbishment behind London’s Royal Academy of Art with flats and galleries

The proposed development of 29-30 Old Burlington Street and 22-27 Cork Street for client Native Land will be the first arcade to be built in Mayfair since the 1930s.

The nine-storey scheme includes 1,998 m2 of retail space designed for gallery use - doubling the amount of gallery space currently on site - as well as 42 flats.

It is understood Native Land is intending to enter a ‘binding commitment’ with the local authority Westminster City Council to guarantee that ‘at least half’ this new retail space is let to galleries, including the developments’ entire Cork Street frontage.

Alasdair Nicholls, chief executive of Native Land, said: ‘We’re committed to reinforcing Cork Street’s reputation as a world class art district and maintaining its position as one of a number of international arts market hubs within London. Enhancing the character of the area with new gallery space will be an important factor in the success of the accompanying residential development.’

Graham Stirk, partner at Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, added: ”The real joy of the project will be an unexpected vista of complexity and colour which hides behind a cool exterior of simple, flexible residential accommodation; it is a building that only reveals its true modernity after crossing the threshold.’

The architect’s view

[Our] design provides a positive contribution to the streetscape of Old Burlington Street and Cork Street, with street-facing facades comprising a series of bays in proportion to the nearby former townhouses. The development will comprise two linear buildings, connected by a single translucent core and new arcade. At the upper levels, the façade is inclined and is set-back to respond to the buildings neighbours.

The proposed materials have been carefully selected to reflect the architectural heritage of the area. The dark structural frame will include crushed granite, basalt and mica broken up by a series of light stainless steel frames, surrounding windows and hand-made bricks. This matches the colour contrast of surrounding buildings with their brick facades and white window frames.

Native Land, the Mayfair-based development company, is managing the proposed development, after acquiring the site freehold in August 2012 in a joint venture with Hotel Properties Limited (HPL), the Singaporean hotel, property and retail group, and Amcorp Properties Berhad (Amcorp), the Malaysian property, engineering and infrastructure group. The re-development proposals were drawn up partly in a response to the expiry of all the leases later this year, which presented a clear opportunity to improve the site. In December 2012 Native Land secured funding for the development via a £90 million debt facility from OCBC Bank of Singapore.

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