Westminster Council provokes anger by approving Arup's estate regeneration

24 July 2018 Consultancy.uk 2 min. read
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A regeneration plan by Arup is at the heart of a heated debate in the Council of Westminster, after opposition councillors accused the initiative of being a land-grab which will reduce social housing in the area. The scheme is currently projected to commence in early 2019, with an anticipated completion date of 2029.

Westminster Council has come under fire after it approved plans designed by engineering and construction consultancy Arup to build 750 new homes near the £1 billion Chelsea Barracks development. The new homes will be built as part of the regeneration of the 1930s Ebury Bridge social housing estate in Pimlico, but the number of homes being created appears to be lower than the area currently hosts, angering residents and local representatives.

144 new family-sized “affordable” homes are set to be built – of which only 87 are marked for social rent and 57 will be available for “intermediate” rent – while the overall scheme will involve the demolition of 13 existing buildings which contain 336 homes. As a result, Labour ward councillors in Westminster are calling for a full ballot on the project, claiming the council has not produced any evidence that residents are in favour of it, while citing a survey conducted by residents themselves which found a resounding 88% do not back the scheme, known as “Scenario Seven”.

Westminster Council provokes anger by approving Arup's estate regeneration

A spokesperson for the local Labour group said, “If the council’s plan goes ahead as it is currently proposed, social tenants will go from being a majority on Ebury Bridge Estate to being the minority – and the make-up of its community will be forever changed.”

The Ebury Bridge Estate was first earmarked for regeneration eight years previously, having fallen into disrepair while 35% of its flats remain empty, and are reportedly covered in Sitex to prevent squatters moving in. The area is presently home to many residents who are particularly vulnerable, either via age, physical or psychological health, or low incomes. In response, council leaders said the public body had spent months consulting on the new plans for the estate.

Councillor Rachael Robathan, Westminster’s cabinet member for finance, property and regeneration, commented, “The Ebury Bridge estate will remain a council housing estate. We wanted to get this right, which is why we spent months listening and talking to the community. A right of return is guaranteed for all secure council tenants and lease holders.”

Related: HAUT project designed by Arup wins BREEAM sustainability award.