17 February 2021
Cundy Street Quarter – our speech to the planning committee
Last night Westminster Council praised an ‘exemplary’ scheme to create a handsome, low-carbon neighbourhood in Belgravia, deferring a final decision pending a decision on the height of one building. Anna Bond gave this speech to the planning committee.
Thank you, Mr Chairman. And to all the officers, residents and neighbours for their hard work and involvement over the last two years.
By way of introduction, I’m Anna Bond, the Executive Director of Development for Grosvenor Britain & Ireland.
I want to begin by recognising there were challenges early in the process – and have been just recently. These conversations are an important part of planning.
Over 850 people have come to public meetings and 2,500 have responded to our surveys.
In this case, they have not only improved the proposals but helped transform how we engage with communities right across our business.
The dialogue has led to significant changes: reducing the number of shops on Ebury Street and working with neighbours on Elizabeth Place Gardens and to amend the design for Ebury Square Gardens.
We have also removed a floor from the tallest building and looked very carefully at building heights, to strike the right balance and provide as many new homes as possible of all tenures whilst respecting the context.
All the while, we’ve worked closely with private residents in Cundy Street flats, providing alternative accommodation for the most vulnerable.
And above all, we re-phased and re-designed the project so that Walden House residents will only need to move once.
So these proposals reflect the views of many different people from a broad cross-section of Belgravia.
The development will provide 93 affordable homes and 70 for the market, as well as senior living for up to 170 people. It’s a genuine mix that better meets the needs of people living in Westminster today.
The redevelopment will result in a 55% reduction of carbon emissions over a standard 60-year life cycle compared to what’s here today.
And we’ll invest £10 million in the public realm including Ebury Square, alongside a community hub, food store and a small cinema.
In closing, these proposals can transform a closed-off site with no public amenities, dominated by car parking and tired housing into a handsome, low-carbon neighbourhood.
This will provide bigger, better homes at social rents and almost double the amount of affordable housing on the site.
Clearly one of the issues to discuss tonight is height. The hard reality is that losing another floor on Ebury Street would result in the loss of homes for senior living and at least 15 affordable homes – both of which are desperately needed.
We believe this scheme is in the best interests of Westminster. It strikes the right balance and will make this neighbourhood better for the long-term.
And I passionately believe that is something we can all support tonight.
To find out more about the scheme visit www.cundystreetquarter.co.uk