Cundy Street Quarter: Our comments to Planning Committee

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Cllr Mann spoke at Westminster City Council’s Planning (Major Applications) Sub-Committee about Grosvenor’s planning application for its Cundy Street Quarter development:

“I wanted to take this chance to give some comments on these proposals from both myself and my fellow Churchill Ward Labour councillor, Shamim Talukder.

Ever since Grosvenor announced these plans, the two of us have sought to represent and support affected residents – primarily, in the first instance, those living in Walden House and Cundy Flats, whose homes are being demolished to make way for this development.

We supported their ‘Save Cundy And Walden’ campaign, led by resident Liza Begum – and it was pressure from this campaign which led Grosvenor to guarantee new homes on the development for Walden House residents. We’re glad that Grosvenor finally did the right thing in this case – and we want to thank them for it, and for the phasing allowing residents to move directly into their new homes. But we also remain hugely disappointed that, despite the residents’ and my and Shamim’s continual requests, Grosvenor have refused to offer the same guarantee to their own tenants in Cundy Flats.

We are greatly saddened by the resulting break-up of the Cundy Flats community – and by the demolition of these fine post-war buildings, which are a local heritage asset.

We also share some other local residents’ concerns: including over the proposed scale and height of buildings – and resultant loss of light to both Ebury Square Gardens and houses on Ebury Street – the loss of protected trees, and some of the proposed designs. It’s particularly important to get scale, architecture and design elements right because this development borders a Conservation Area.

We’re pleased that there will be provision of social, affordable and senior living homes. But if this application passes, we want Grosvenor to do all it can to ensure that the market rate flats will not sit empty or be Air BnB’d out, but will be people’s main residences.

We also seek assurances that the amenities being created – cafés, shops, community hub, cinema etc – will not be exclusive but will be accessible to all in our community, and, if suitable, community-run.

We have continually pushed Grosvenor to work with local residents on their plans – including those in Semley House and especially those in Coleshill Flats – and we want Grosvenor to have an ongoing dialogue with all local residents if this application is passed. We also ask that Grosvenor, Peabody and the Council work closely together on specifically supporting Coleshill Flats residents during what will be years of incredibly disruptive demolition and construction work right outside their flats.

All in all, we ask the planning committee tonight to take local residents’ concerns very seriously – which we know they will – as the proposed Cundy Street Quarter is a huge development, both literally and figuratively. The addition of all these new homes in a relatively small area, the resulting dominant architecture, the new amenities… all this dramatically changes the local area. As such, there is no second chance here to get this right. As a result, if the committee could possibly consider a short deferral so that the issues still of most concern to residents – as mentioned above and represented tonight by two local amenity societies – can be looked at again by Grosvenor’s design team and Council officers, we would be most grateful.”

The Planning Sub-Committee agreed that they were minded to grant the application – but, as we requested, they agreed to defer the final decision in order for Council officers and Grosvenor to look into the implications of reducing the height of one building (A1) in order to tackle the loss of light issue to affected homes on Mozart Terrace, Ebury Street.

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