One of the more highly-publicised and politicised regeneration projects in London over recent months has been Grosvenor Britain & Ireland’s proposal to knock down five blocks of flats in south Belgravia – four for private renters, one for Westminster Council tenants – and build a new mixed-use development to be called Cundy Street Quarter.
On London has documented the neighbourhood context, the vision of the architect, the opposition to it, the assurances given to council tenants, arguments about who speaks for residents, the state of play at the beginning of this year and Grosvenor offering council tenants the option of moving directly into their new replacement homes on the site, rather than having to first live temporarily somewhere else.
Now, Grosvenor has published its final proposals for consultation, placing online the essence of the detailed plans it intends to formally submit to Westminster Council later this year.
Most of what currently stands on the triangular site bounded by Ebury Street, Pimlico Road and Cundy Street will be demolished, though not the two blocks of Peabody housing association flats at the corner whose point will continue to be formed by Orange Square (also known as Mozart Square, thanks to its statue of the composer, who lived in Ebury Street as a child) or the shops on Ebury Street.
The 111 Cundy Street flats – comprising the four private blocks, which have had some noted tenants – and the separate 40-dwelling Walden House, which Grosvenor leases to the council, will be replaced by a combination of 93 “affordable” homes (including replacements for the 38 Walden House secure council tenants), 70 for full market price sale and specialist “senior living” accommodation for up to 170 people. There will also be 17 shops and other amenities, including cafes and restaurants and a cinema. A “flexible community space” is promised too, along with trees and green space. A map on the consultation website shows how the different components of Cundy Street Quarter will be arranged and links to computer-generated views of the new buildings.
Grosvenor says that the affordable homes, including those to be built for the Walden House residents, will be “on average 50 per cent larger than the existing flats“. They will account for 39 per cent of all the Quarter’s homes, as calculated by habitable room. Who provides and runs them won’t be decided until after planning consent has been secured. The senior living section will be market rate housing and run by a specialist operator, yet to be selected, which will likely provide homes for both relatively independent older people and others nearing the ends of their lives or suffering with dementia, along with appropriate facilities.
The site at present is self-contained with a car park at its centre. The proposed new quarter will have public pedestrian routes through it, reviving a feature of the site that was lost when the buildings that preceded the Cundy Street flats were hit by a World War II bomb. The adjoining Ebury Square gardens will get an upgrade, including a new play area for children.
Grosvenor has been running a campaign to increase trust and public confidence in developers and the planning process, but the effects of the coronavirus outbreak have presented obvious obstacles to putting this into effect. Normally, the plans would also be displayed in a local building for the public to visit and real people would be on hand to answer questions.
Social distancing makes that impossible, so Grosvenor is to host three webinar briefings with live presentations by members of its team on 5, 7 and 11 May. These are to be advertised through information packs to be delivered to around 13,000 local address and via email and social media. Sign-up details and times are shown on the consultation website.
The process still has a long way to go. There will be consultation outcomes to consider and rehousing concerns to take on board. It is hoped that demolition and construction work will start late next year with the first new homes completed in 2025 and the whole project finished by 2028. On London will keep you up to speed with whatever happens next.
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