The Sub-Committee team remains both strong and committed and we are very fortunate to have such a dedicated group of professionals giving their time for free. The addition of Dan Marks, a young local architect, has been welcomed by all. The effort given by the team in responding to applications and attending presentations is significant and worthy of a note of thanks.
Marylebone has seen a significant rise in major applications reflecting the increasing property values in the area. In all residential schemes we strongly argue for the retention of affordable housing on site rather than offset payments. Unfortunately this does not always happen which we feel is to the detriment of both the schemes themselves and the wider area.
The new Marylebone Library located on the old basketball court site on Luxborough Street was granted planning consent by Westminster last year however it still mired in procurement problems and no site start has been confirmed. We have expressed great concern about the delays and expect to hear good news later in the year. The temporary Library on Beaumont Street will remain into 2017/18 until the new Library opens.
The Moxon Street planning application was approved by Westminster last year despite our objections to the scheme principally due to the lack of the provision of public realm for the benefit of the community. Ridgeford, the development company behind Moxon Street, are continuing to push forward and hope to commence site works in 2017 with completion in 2019.
We have recently seen significant proposals for the redevelopment of 19–35 Baker Street by Michael Hopkins Architects, Derwent London and The Portman Estate. They propose a new publicly accessible courtyard between Baker Street and Gloucester Place which is welcomed however the block size and ‘hat’ on Baker Street have generated many varying opinions. The scheme is still in development and we look forward to seeing the next design iterations – we will shortly have a link on the MA Planning page to a project webpage.
Following the demise of the Paddington Pole project, to which we added our strenuous objection, the project has been renamed Paddington Quarter and we have been invited to give our views on the new proposals. We are keen to engage at this early stage to ensure our feedback is taken on board and will report any developments through the website.
In the near future we hope to see plans for the NCP car park site behind Debenhams on Marylebone Lane – we understand that Shiva Hotels purchased the site and plans are being developed.
Relationships with Westminster and the Estates
The Sub-Committee undertakes regular meetings with both Westminster’s Senior Planning and Design Officers and Councillor Robert Davis, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for the Built Environment.
There is a good relationship based on shared knowledge and in some cases shared frustrations. This aspect of our work is key and we undertake as many pre application conversations as possible to ensure all planning matters and exemplary design quality is tackled at the very outset.
Digital by Default
Westminster introduced paperless consultations in September last year and hard copies of planning applications are now not issued to amenity groups and all documents must be viewed online. We have dealt with nearly 500 applications since inception and despite a few teething problems it has speeded up both our response times and the processing of applications.
We have recently undertaken development reviews with both The Portman and Howard de Walden Estates to look at their 5/10 year plans; this has been very fruitful to look into the future of our area in the context of the ongoing progress by both Estates.