Westminster Labour Councillors are calling for 60 homes in Castle Lane and Palace Street, Victoria, that have been empty since 2012, to be brought back into use immediately.
The empty homes are owned by Land Securities who bought them for £22.5m in 2011 from charity Look Ahead with the aim of developing affordable housing at the site to act as an offset against its obligation to provide affordable housing as part of the conversion of the nearby Portland House office block to 206 luxury apartments which was granted planning permission in 2013.
However, since 2013 no work has been undertaken on converting Portland House to apartments and following recent enquiries to Westminster Council, Planning Director John Walker told Councillors:
“The planning consent to upgrade and convert the buildings into new affordable housing was linked to converting Portland House into private residential but as the market has changed Land Securities have said they no longer intend to implement the scheme. They are therefore reviewing other options for Castle Lane and have said they expect to approach us about alternative proposals in the autumn.”
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson said:
“It makes no sense for these homes in the centre of London to remain empty any longer. The Council should take immediate action to insist the owners bring forward plans for these empty homes without further delay. These homes have been empty for 5 years and there can be no excuse for further delays.”
“Westminster Conservative have been negligent in allowing these homes toremain empty for so long, when the homes could have provided temporary accommodation for families who been living in unsatisfactory bed and breakfast accommodation”