Now is the time to invest in companies that make small furniture! The City of Westminster in the City Plan 2019- 2040 has suggested that new developments and conversions will (unless necessary to protect a heritage asset) not be allowed to provide units of greater than 150 sq m (1,615 sq ft) to ensure developments provide the number of homes required over the coming years in the area.
Whilst this is above the nationally described space standards by a whole 12 sq m (129 sq ft), for a family home, this would hardly be palatial. The City of Westminster has pointed out that it is also 50% larger than the average size of a private market tenure home in Westminster, although presumably this figure includes the large number of pied-à-terres in the area.
Without doubt something needs to be done to ensure there are enough decent quality properties at the correct price, however how many 'average' buyers could afford even a modestly sized property in Westminster, and will this solve the problem?
This does seem like another situation where wealthy foreign buyers are being blamed for a property market that just simply doesn't allow for affordable homes as everyone on the property ladder wants to pull the ladder up behind them and make money on their own home. Realistically, how many first-time buyers are pushed out of the market by each mansion built in prime residential London?
Whilst it has less than most boroughs, Westminster still has brownfield sites suitable for redevelopment, which I would argue would be a good place to start to create a stock of new, and hopefully decently sized, properties.
The plans are open to consultation so watch this (lack of) space!
The council, which includes the areas of Mayfair, Knightsbridge and Belgravia, said it would restrict new homes larger than 150 sq metres (1,615 sq ft) because “Westminster’s position in the global housing market can create demand for supersize properties which underoptimise development of Westminster’s scarce land resource”.