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Women-only affordable housing scheme in west London rejected by council planning committee


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lans to build 60 new women-only affordable flats in west London’s White City have been dealt a major blow after the local council rejected the scheme.

Women’s Pioneer Housing (WPH), a housing association founded by suffragettes, and developer HUB said they were “disappointed” after Hammersmith & Fulham’s planning committee refused to grant permission for the project.

Under the plans, designed by architect AHMM, the housing association’s tired existing offices and 36 flats at 227 Wood Lane would have been demolished and replaced with 60 new affordable homes for single women on the housing waiting list and a new HQ for the housing provider.

The new affordable housing would have been funded by a second “enabling” development on the same site; an 18 storey co-living tower with 209 studios for build-to-rent developer HUB.

Designs for the women-only housing scheme and co-living tower in White City

/ AHMM

The scheme was rejected for four reasons; the height of the building, its energy efficiency, the detrimental impact on neighbouring homes and the “standard” of the proposed accommodation, according to minutes posted on the council’s website.

Neighbouring borough Kensington and Chelsea had objected to the height of the 18-storey tower, arguing it would have a “harmful impact” on the listed Kensal Green park and garden.

Other local residents had raised concerns about the co-living element of the scheme, they said was “experimental and risky”.

The co-living scheme would have included studios of around 24 m2, with a shower room, a central bed area, a separate living area, and small kitchenettes with a hob and fridge, according to documents filed with the council.

The tower also included a communal roof terrace and an entire level given over to a range of shared kitchens facilities, capable of being used by 53 people at a time, plus dining areas including booths or more traditional tables.

London and other large cities have seen a surge in co-living projects, a model based on the principle of student halls but aimed at young professionals with luxury facilities from workspace to ‘sky bars’, wellness centres, or even swimming pools.

But while the model is profitable, many planning committees in London have been turning down co-living projects due to concerns over the size of the rooms, which don’t have to meet space standards, and the affordability of the rents.

In a statement, HUB and Women’s Pioneer Housing said they were “very disappointed” that its plans had been refused.

“The application followed four years of engagement with the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, the GLA and the local community. As a result of this process, our proposals had been refined to address feedback, resulting in a significant reduction in height from 29 to 18 storeys, revised materiality, improved public realm and community benefits.”

“Alongside our partners Bridges Fund Management, an impact investor, we will now take some time to carefully consider our next steps.”

Founded in 1920 by suffrage campaigners, WPH is an independent, women’s-only housing association which owns and manages just over 1,000 socially rented homes across London.

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Its website explains how nearly a century after Women’s Pioneer was first established, women still face “particular disadvantages” in finding secure and affordable housing.

A Hammersmith & Fulham Council spokesperson said: “We can confirm that the item relating to 227 Wood Lane was refused planning permission on Tuesday night (11 October) by H&F Council’s Planning Applications and Development Control Committee.

The officers’ recommendation on the agenda to grant planning permission was overturned by the committee and planning application was refused.”

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