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Council chiefs determined to push on with tall building talks

Westminster presses on despite backlash from community groups

23 February, 2018 — By Tom Foot

Danny Astaire

PLANNING chiefs say they are determined to push ahead with discussions about letting developers build “significantly taller buildings” all over Westminster.

Danny Astaire, cabinet member for planning and public realm, defended the decision to consult the public about widening its planning policy.

The ‘Right Kind of Growth’ project had been criticised this week by Labour which said it would scrap the scheme if elected in May.

Cllr Astaire said: “When I launched the Right Kind of Growth consultation last year, I said that accommodating growth needn’t necessarily mean tall buildings and that ‘…in many cases it will simply mean an extra storey here and there and building behind the façades where possible’.”

He added that he was “pleased that others seem to be coming round to supporting our way of thinking”. He said there were no proposals currently formulated, only an intention, adding: “We will always have our residents’ best interests at heart.”

A year ago the council faced a massive backlash after it announced its new consultation. An unprecedented alliance of community groups united in calls for the council to cancel the move.

The Thorney Island Society, Westminster Cathedral Area, Residents’ Group, the Belgravia Society, Soho Society, Seven Dials Trust and Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Forum are among the long list of groups signing a joint letter to Cllr Astaire.

The scheme was then delayed with the results due to be announced after the May election. Westminster Labour group leader Cllr Adam Hug said “Labour will scrap the council’s proposals on tall buildings that could allow the spread of towers across Westminster.

“Instead we will look to work with local people about how to deliver well-designed, lower-rise, high-density schemes that benefit our residents as well as our business communities.”

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