The developer appointed the practice in April to demolish 111 private flats on Cundy Street and to flatten the neighbouring Walden House, a 40-home council estate built on Grosvenor-owned land.
The developer wants to build new private and affordable homes to replace the existing mansion blocks, built on a bombsite in the early 1950s, as part of its new ‘Cundy Street Quarter’.
But residents living in Walden House are fighting back against the project, which they say will see them displaced from their homes. A petition against the scheme has more than 100,000 signatures.
A spokesperson for the Save Cundy and Walden House group said residents in the council-run block faced the prospect of either bidding for properties outside the borough or being left homeless.
’There is nothing wrong with what are beautiful buildings,’ they said. ‘This is just about an opportunity to build a big investment development on prime central London land.
‘The families that will be displaced are seen as getting in the way of profits. Grosvenor have made no commitment to existing residents and the community there, and no concrete commitment to social housing.’
According to the group, consultation events never presented a ‘no demolition’ option, and ‘all the questions are framed so as to give legitimacy to whatever Grosvenor want to do’.
Grosvenor property group, which is owned by the Duke of Westminster, argues the site’s regeneration will provide a ’material increase in much-needed high-quality housing in Westminster’.
The developer said it first notified its Cundy Street tenants of its redevelopment plans back in 2012.
A spokesperson said: ‘Since this notification, we have been providing tailored support, over and above what is required of us, to help them plan carefully for the future.’
With regards to Walden House, the spokesperson said Grosvenor had given Westminster Council an additional two years on the lease, providing ’substantially more time for suitable new homes to be found’.
Grosvenor has said it is committed to re-providing the affordable housing currently on site. As the plans are still in development it remains unclear what percentage of affordable the scheme will be targeting.
Craig McWilliam, Grosvenor’s chief executive, recently published a statement discussing the ‘lack of trust’ between developers and communities.
In Changing our approach: The Cundy Street Quarter, McWilliam said he wanted to bring greater ‘transparency, understanding, public scrutiny and involvement’ to the company’s development proposals.
‘Some are understandably upset at our decision to demolish these buildings even if they appreciate that doing so gives us the chance to create a better place with more homes for more people. We won’t deny those feelings as we open ourselves up.’
He explained the company had had more than 500 conversations during the public consultation and had collected ’over 1,500 points of view influencing our plans’.
McWilliam added: ‘We’re offering residents, workers and visitors the chance to post their comments and poll their opinions through a new user-friendly app.’
DSDHA was approached for comment.
Photo © n chadwick (cc by sa:2.0)