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Westminster blames ‘Brexit uncertainty’ for plummet in major applications

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Westminster planners have reported a ‘significant decrease’ in the number of major schemes submitted this year, pinning the blame partially on Brexit uncertainty

In an update to the borough’s planning and development committee last week, planning chief John Walker said there had been a 45 per cent drop in large schemes submitted.

Walker’s report, which looked at current trends and issues facing the service, also noted a 5 per cent dip in the overall number of planning applications since the beginning of the year. 

Planners said the decline was partially down to the ‘uncertainties of Brexit’, the residential market ‘falling away’, as well as the local elections in May when developers ‘shy away from submitting major/controversial applications’. 

The major applications would be dealt with using planning performance agreements (PPAs) – where officers work with developers to establish a time frame and a tailored set of fees.

PPA fees in Westminster range from £10,000 for householder applications to £31,000 for major proposals involving more than 10 homes, or commercial schemes with more than 1,000m² of floor space.

There have been other signs of a slowdown in central London. In June, the London tall buildings survey found that the number of high-rises completed fell by nearly a third last year.

The number of planning permissions for new high rises in the capital had also been hit – down by 10 per cent year-on-year.

Earlier this week,  Westminster unveiled its draft City Plan, which included plans to bring in a ban on super-size new properties in a bid to free up more of the borough’s ‘scarce land’ for affordable homes.

Richard Beddoe, planning chief at Westminster Council, said: ’There has been a drop in planning applications so far this year, as we expected. That is often the case in an election year, as developers wait to see the outcome.

’This month we launched our new ambitious City Plan 2019-40, which again many developers were waiting on before submitting applications.

’Wider factors such as Brexit may be having a small impact, but it is hard to make this link and we are expecting a busy final six months of the year as applications pick up. We are aware of a number of major applications which are already in the works.’

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