New Westminster City Council policies aimed at preventing the conversions of neighbouring properties into mega-homes are starting to bite
Last year, the authority introduced a planning policy to restrict proposals that created giant houses and reduced the number of homes in the borough.
Earlier this week, the council’s planning committee used the policy to refuse a proposal at 199 Knightsbridge by interior architecture practice Rients, which would have knocked two luxury apartments into one super-penthouse worth upwards of £200 million.
The application, prepared on behalf of Ashley Tabor, owner of the Classic FM radio station, was for two £90 million flats in the 11-year-old Squire and Partners’ designed block.
It is unconscionable to accept this kind of proposal when we face a pressing housing shortage
Daniel Astaire, Westminster City Council cabinet member for planning and public realm, said: ‘This case raises issues which cut to the heart of our planning policy.
‘It is unconscionable to accept this kind of proposal when we face a pressing housing shortage. In fact, it is the exact opposite of what we are trying to do.’
He said the council would also bring forward new proposals to strengthen its policies on super-sized housing when it refreshes its city plan.
‘Our aim is to ensure fairness and opportunity in housing and we refuse to sell golden postcodes to the highest bidder,’ he said. ‘For the future, we intend to strengthen our policy to prevent this kind of loss of homes in the city.’
The Rients plans would have combined two family-sized flats to create one new home with 10 bedrooms.
An officer’s report presented to the planning committee said: ‘While it may be true that any individual unit of housing will inevitably represent only a small percentage of the entire housing stock in the city, the potential for numbers of similar cases coming forward and the potential cumulative impact of this on overall housing availability is considered to be a significant planning consequence.’
According to the council, there have been more than 200 similar applications in Westminster since 2013, leading to a potential loss of nearly 300 residential properties.
When contacted by the AJ, Rients said that it would be meeting with the client and a planning consultant in the next few weeks to discuss the next steps.