Westminster’s Town Planning Service exceeds DLUHC target

In our February 2021 Newsletter we reported on the Government’s Planning for the Future white paper that proposed widespread changes to our planning system – in existence since 1948 in the UK and the model for planning policies worldwide. The paper argues that our planning is an “inefficient, opaque process with poor outcomes.”  According to the government the planning system is mainly responsible for keeping new homes from being built (rather than, say, unregulated urban land costs). 

A recently published report on the performance of Westminster’s Business, Licensing and Planning portfolio seems to contradict the government’s view. It shows that in 2022 86 per cent of major planning applications were determined within 13 weeks and 77 per cent of non-major applications within eight weeks.  The corresponding targets set by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities were 70 per cent and 73 per cent

Community engagement guidance

A notable feature of the Planning for the Future white paper was an expectation of genuine community involvement with the planning process. The government made it clear that it wanted local residents to have a genuine say in the design of new developments.   Accordingly, at the beginning of February Westminster Council launched its new early community engagement guidance for applicants and developers

The Council hopes by means of the guidance to gain ‘greater trust and insight from local communities, leading to better schemes with fewer objections’. They say much greater focus will be put on community engagement in committee reports, and engagement will be expected to take place earlier, more transparently, and include a greater range of stakeholders.  To read the guidance, go to the Westminster planning portal and search for Early Community Engagement in Westminster.

Things are looking up for Grosvenor Gardens House

In our August 2017 Newsletter we highlighted the sad state of this Grade 11 listed building dating from the second half of the 1800s that was showing increasing signs of degradation and neglect as the result of being at the heart of a court case between the Candy brothers and Mark Holyoake.  Planning consent for refurbishment had been granted in 2013. In 2017 Westminster planners, said the new owners /developers would produce a new planning application in the not too distant future.

Happily, the 2013 consent did not expire as some work was carried out on the building by the then owners. The current owner, Belgravia Mansions Estates, is now planning to implement the consented scheme with some minor additions for which a new listed building application had to be submitted.