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August 20, 2013
Westminster City Council Standing Up to Protect Office Space
Westminster has witnessed a flurry of office to residential development as strong demand for residences in the borough and high end user capital values have provided significant arbitrage opportunities to developers.
The local authority, which governs the area from Knightsbridge to The Strand and from the River Thames upto Kilburn, encompassies super prime residential locations such as Belgravia, Mayfair, Knightsbridge and also St John’s Wood and Western side of Regents Park .
As developers have swooned in, the council is now concerned there is a shortage of affordable office space in the borough as the number of planning applications for residential use in the borough has increased 8 fold between 2010 and 2013 and surpasses that in any other London borough.
In a move that would not go so far as prohibiting residential conversions, the borough is proposing conditionality on the granting of residential planning use to provide affordable office space as part of residential schemes over a certain size or alternatively, similarly to the operation of affordable housing requirements under s106, the developer could alternatively make a payment to the council which would contribute towards affordable office space schemes elsewhere in the borough.
It is not clear at this stage how the proposals would work in conjunction with s106 affordable housing requirements.
Mayfair Chambers at 7 Broadbent Street, W1 is an example of residential scheme that has been granted permission in Westminster.
CGI of reception area at Mayfair Chambers