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Westminster to bring in ban on ‘super-size’ new mansions

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Westminster Council is to implement a ban on super-size new properties in a bid to free up more of the borough’s ‘scarce land’ for affordable homes

Under proposals in the borough’s draft development plan, developers will not be able to build homes larger than 150m² – a size the council said was still 50 per cent larger than the average private home in Westminster.

The ban is the local authority’s latest attempt to combat the spread of luxury mansions in areas such as Belgravia, Knightsbridge and Mayfair.

The council said it would still enable ‘generously sized homes’ to be developed for the prime market, but ‘balances that against the other, more strategic housing need of the city’.

It added: ‘Westminster’s position in the global housing market can create demand for super-size properties which under-optimise development of Westminster’s scarce land resource.’

In 2016, the council brought in policies aimed at stopping the growing trend for converting rows of neighbouring properties into giant homes for the super-rich.

Last year it used the measure to refuse a proposal at 199 Knightsbridge by interior architect Rients, which would have knocked two luxury apartments into one super-penthouse worth upwards of £200 million.

The local authority has also placed limits on the size of basement developments to prevent the construction of so-called ‘iceberg homes’.

Other new policies in the plan include a ban on hotels of more than 2,500m² in the new Soho Special Policy Area (SPA).

‘Large-scale hotel facilities will not be considered acceptable within the SPA, as they will likely displace other commercial uses, which will erode local character,’ the council said. 

While most of Westminster was ‘not suitable for higher buildings’, the plan identified ‘opportunity areas’ for development in Victoria, where 12 buildings of up to 12 storeys would be permitted, and Paddington, where 20 storeys would be acceptable. 

The borough also announced its annual target for housing delivery will be 1,495 homes a year – almost 50 per cent more than the London Plan requirement.

Westminster’s draft City Plan 2019-2040 is currently out for consultation

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