Statement by the Rector of St Marylebone on Luxborough Street development.
The decision by Westminster City Council’s Planning Committee to approve the Luxborough Street development application has caused a great deal of local anger, both within the congregation of St Marylebone and in the community more widely.
We urgently need new and affordable housing, but housing must be of good quality, including safeguarding adequate outdoor space for all residents, not just those lucky enough to afford a garden or access to a private square.
The Church’s objections, which I have voiced throughout the application process and at the most recent Planning Committee meeting, also relate to the fact that Westminster City Council has a legal duty, whatever its decision, to seek permission under ecclesiastical law. The law requires this because the works border – and encroach into – consecrated land.
The Council’s failure to seek such an approval is disappointing, as is the lack of consultation undertaken with Church bodies to understand the impact of both the design and the implementation of works on the consecrated open space. We hope that a satisfactory agreement can be reached and will do all we can to ensure one is found.
I very much hope that, as I have tried to encourage from the very outset of this project some years ago, the Council will now take seriously the advice of the Council’s legal officer that it engages in timely and constructive dialogue with me and the diocesan authorities with regard to the very real concerns relating to the site.
The Revd Canon Dr Stephen Evans
Rector of St Marylebone