I must start my report with the good news that Philip Vernon, my predecessor, is maintaining good progress in his recovery from a period of illness. I and all the members of the sub-committee would like to wish him a swift recovery to health.
The sub-committee remains strong and we are very fortunate to have such a dedicated group of professionals. The time and effort given by the team in responding to applications, attending presentations and commenting on policy documents is considerable and worthy of a note of thanks.
The last year has been busy and the number of applications received by Westminster has been slightly higher than the previous year: this mirrors the statistics across the country. The number of large building cranes in Westminster is also indicative of a construction industry that is gearing up as the economy improves.
International House at 66 Chiltern Street has received planning consent to be demolished and rebuilt to match a previously consented scheme which retained the building; the new scheme adds 3 storeys and creates 56 private flats with underground parking. Works are due to commence in 2015.
The new Marylebone Library located on the old basketball court site on Luxborough Street has now been granted planning consent by Westminster and a second application to remodel the landscaping around Luxborough Tower has been submitted and is currently under review. The loss of the play space is a significant concern for residents and its re-provision is critical. There is an ongoing conversation with Westminster Officers focusing on this subject.
A major residential development enveloping the whole of Park Crescent West has recently been submitted for planning to Westminster following a number of pre-application meetings with the Association. The Crescent is a poor post war facsimile and although Listed Grade I it is to be demolished and rebuilt in a more accurate and aesthetically pleasing version of the original. The development includes 70 flats and mews houses to the rear.
The former 70,000 sq ft Marylebone Police Station on Seymour Street has been acquired by the Portman Estate for a mixed use redevelopment. The Association will be working closely with the Estate as their plans come forward.
Following a lengthy process Moxon Street has finally been sold by Westminster to Ridgeford who are a locally based development company. We have had a very positive initial meeting with Ridgeford in which we stressed that the development must be sensitive in scale and character to the area. We look forward to working with them on their emerging plans with particular regard to the continuation of the Farmers' Market, new public spaces and the mix of land uses.
Relationships with Westminster and the Estates
The sub-committee undertake 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 exemplary design quality and that all the arising planning issues are tackled from the very outset.
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.