The former Royal Mail delivery centre in Rathbone Place goes to Westminster Council’s planning committee this Tuesday (ref 13/04844/FULL). The proposal is to create a mix of offices, retail, restaurants and housing on the site around a central open space. The social-rented portion of this will be provided off-site in Mortimer Street and Great Portland Street.
Westminster Council’s target for affordable housing is 25 percent. The proportion of affordable housing generated from this development would only be 17. 1 percent of the total housing. Furthermore, only 60 percent of these would be for social rent, which means a mere 10 percent (18 units) of the housing generated by this scheme will be for social rent.
We are also concerned that the off-site social rented housing (ref: 13/04849/FULL) will displace existing private-rented housing at the sites in Mortimer Street. This existing housing in Mortimer Street while not “affordable” is not prime luxury and therefore relatively affordable compared with the amount of prime luxury on offer. In effect the increase in social-rented would be off-set by a decrease in existing, averagely-priced private-rented.
While we welcome the addition of the social-rented units we are concerned about the loss of small office units at 88 Great Portland Street because of a loss of employment and loss of premises suitable for small businesses. There is already a trend under way to convert small and relatively affordable office space to residential which detracts from the character of the area which currently supports a variety of commercial units and diversity of business sizes.
Westminster Council planning sub-committee 15 October 2013.