“Underhand and unscrupulous” Ebury Bridge Estate demolition plans opposed by London Assembly Member

September 20th, 2019

Labour’s London Assembly Housing Spokesperson, Tom Copley AM, has called out Westminster City Council’s plans to knock down several buildings on the Ebury Bridge Estate as “underhand and unscrupulous”. In a letter to the Leader of Westminster City Council, Nickie Aiken, Mr Copley argues that the council’s use of a planning loophole to secure the green light for the demolition, has allowed the scheme to “dodge” the scrutiny of the Mayor and local residents.

Mr Copley wrote to Councillor Aiken, after notices were recently posted around the Ebury Bridge Estate confirming that the demolition of Wellesley House, Wainwright House, Dalton House, Hillersdon House, Pimlico House, and Mercer House would be taking place in a matter of months.

In his letter, he underlines that these demolition works are scheduled to take place before a full planning application for the wider Ebury Bridge Estate regeneration scheme has been submitted, leaving significant uncertainty around the Estate’s future.

In addition, Mr Copley has presented a technical objection to the proposals being put forward by Westminster City Council under the scope of the Prior Approvals process. According to the General Permitted Development Order 2015, demolition is not a permitted development when a site has been allowed to fall into disrepair by the owner.

Assembly Member Copley argues that under the ownership of the Council, the condition of the Ebury Bridge Estate has been left to deteriorate in recent years, and on this basis, its demolition should not be considered Permitted Development under current legislation.

In July 2018, the Mayor of London introduced a rule that any major regeneration schemes which involve the demolition of social homes must receive the support of existing residents through a ballot in order to be eligible for Mayoral funding.

Whilst Westminster City Council is not seeking investment from City Hall for this scheme, Mr Copley is urging Councillor Aiken to arrange a residents’ ballot to ensure the planning process is as open and transparent as possible and falls in line with guidance set out in the Mayor’s Good Practice Guide to Estate Regeneration.

Mr Copley has also written to the Mayor of London to underline his concerns regarding the demolition scheme and to request an intervention from City Hall aimed at preventing Westminster City Council’s plans from going ahead.

Labour’s London Assembly Housing Spokesperson, Tom Copley AM, said:

“It is clear that Westminster City Council are using all the loopholes at their disposal to rush through these underhand and unscrupulous demolition plans.

“Alongside expediently lining things up so they can dodge proper scrutiny from the public and the Mayor, scheduling demolition works before a full planning application has been submitted leaves significant uncertainty about the estate’s future.

“It has also emerged that local residents have been given very limited notice ahead of the first stages of the demolitions, which are due to take place in November.

“I am urging Westminster City Council to abandon their tactics and adopt a more open and transparent approach by conducting a residents’ ballot. That way any plans for the future of the Ebury Bridge Estate could begin to reflect the genuine needs and best interests of local people”.

Ends

Notes

  • Tom Copley AM’s letter to the Leader of Westminster City Council and the Mayor of London regarding the demolition of the Ebury Bridge Estate can both be found here and here;
  • Planning documents relating to Westminster Council’s regeneration proposals for the Ebury Bridge Estate can be accessed here;
  • Mr Copley has identified a technical objection to the proposals being put forward by Westminster City Council under the scope of the Prior Approvals process. This revolves around a regulation in the Town and Country Planning Order 2015 which disallows Permitted Development on a site that has been allowed to fall into disrepair. Paragraph B.1 of Schedule 2, Part 11, Class B of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015, states that development is not permitted if “the building has been rendered unsafe or otherwise uninhabitable by the action or inaction of any person having an interest in the land on which the building stands and it is practicable to secure safety or health by works of repair or works for affording temporary support.” The relevant part of the legislation can be accessed here;
  • In July 2018, the Mayor introduced a rule that any major regeneration schemes which involve the demolition of social homes must receive the support of existing residents through a ballot in order to be eligible for Mayoral funding;
  • The Mayor’s Good Practice Guide to Estate Regeneration can be found here;
  • Tom Copley AM is a Londonwide Assembly Member.