SAVE DOLPHIN SQUARE AND ITS BEAUTIFUL LISTED GRADE II GARDENS
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The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, took the decision on 15th July not to call in Westbrook's planning application and to allow Westminster city council's refusal to stand.
We are delighted by this victory against all the odds and despite the recommendations of the professional planners to both the council and the GLA.
We thank the small team of supporters that have dedicated a great deal of time to fighting the cause and we thank equally all of you who have signed our petition and passed the word to your friends.
We give a special thanks to those of you who have made a financial contribution to this campaign, either through the change.org website or by helping our social media campaign.
Westbrook has six months from the date of Westminster's decision to enter an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate and 12 months in which to enter a revised application without payment of the usual fee.
We will not close the petition but wait to see what happens now. In the event that there is any change to the situation, we will continue our campaign in whatever way is appropriate.
Dolphin Square is at risk! We urge you to prioritise the protection of irreplaceable heritage, and the rights of both residents, neighbours and low-income residents of the borough, by applying national and your own local policies to refuse the current application which proposes irreversible damage to Dolphin Square.
Dolphin Square is a historic and iconic building located by the Thames in London's Pimlico, a Conservation Area in its own right and adjacent to two further Conservation areas. The beautiful gardens were recently listed Grade II.
Its American owners, Westbrook Partners, have filed a planning application to demolish the 6-storey northern block and replace it with a 10-storey building and add one floor to the remaining buildings. Most of the redevelopment is for hotel and short-term letting use and not to provide long-term housing for locals which is so desperately needed in Westminster. If the plans are approved, the northern half of the listed gardens will be lost and replaced with a modern design to accommodate the new building and two huge deep basements providing facilities for the hotel. Also, the famous art-deco shopping parade will be demolished.
Already Dolphin Square has one of the greatest housing densities in Central London with 1,250 homes on a site of only seven acres. By comparison, the adjoining council estate of Churchill Gardens has 1,500 homes on a 37 acre site. The development will increase the density substantially and is completely out of keeping with the three Conservation areas of which Dolphin Square forms a part and the surrounding village community of Pimlico
Affordable housing was a long tradition at Dolphin Square, when built between 1935-37, with more than 1,200 homes specifically aimed at those needing to live in central London for their work – a priority that continued when it was owned by a trust controlled by Westminster City Council.
After filing the application, Westbrook made an "affordable" housing offer pursuant to new Government guide-lines issued last summer in response to Build-to-Rent developments which Westbrook claim their development to be despite the bulk of the application being for service apartments for short-term rental. The "affordable" housing offer includes the provision of 57 housing units comprising 23 for social rent (7x1 bed, 8x2 bed, and 8 by 3-bed). The remaining 34 "affordable" units will be 34 1xbed flats available at intermediate rent. All of the flats will be owned and managed by Westbrook and only the 23 social rent flats will be available to tenants nominated by the council.
Westbrook already claims that their standard rental offering in Dolphin Square is at intermediate rent level (around £400 a week for a 1-bed unit) and these flats will not qualify for tenants nominated by the council since the rent is substantially in excess of social rent rates and even Local Housing Allowance rates used to calculate Housing Benefit. Furthermore, Westbrook will be entitled to sell them on payment of a penalty to the local authority estimated to be between 10 and 20% of the capital value. The intermediate flats are also likely to be available for short-term letting use.
The affordable housing will not compensate for the irreversible damage to the three Conservation areas and the village character of the local community and the sole motive for the development is profit for the off-shore owners who are based in Jersey.
If this application is approved the character and fabric of Dolphin Square will be lost for ever.
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