Westminster is known for its mansions, but these may soon be outlawed under upcoming planning policy.
This is one of the proposals being considered in a consultation for Westminster City Council’s City Plan 2019-2040, used to determine future planning applications.
The council suggests it is concerned about new properties being either too small for family use, or so big they make inefficient use of scarce land.
The consultation, closing on 21 December, says the policy is designed to ensure Westminster has a balanced mix of housing with an adequate (minimum 35%) supply of affordable properties. It says that 25% of new homes should be family sized with 3-5 bedrooms but should not have six bedrooms nor exceed 150 sq.m. (1,615 sq.ft.).
The council explains their reasoning, but says it does not believe it will impact the prime market: ‘We have also set an upper limit on the size of new homes. This is because Westminster’s position in the global housing market can create demand for super-size properties which underoptimise development of Westminster’s scarce land resource.
‘The 150 sq.m. limit is 12 sq.m. above the highest minimum standard in the NDSS (Nationally Described Space Standards) and is 50% higher than the average size of a private market tenure home in Westminster.
‘It will still enable generously sized homes to be developed to meet development from the prime market, but balances that against the other, more strategic housing need of the city.’
While, on the face of it, the proposals might appear to ban any future ‘mega mansions’ developers won’t be slow to notice a possible loophole. The upper limit will not apply where a converted purpose built home – which Westminster has an ample supply of – is returned to a single family dwelling.