Westminster City Council's Labour opposition has called in plans for the demolition and redevelopment of a major central London housing estate.

Labour has backed residents unhappy with the plan to knock down Ebury Bridge Estate in Pimlico to make way for a mix of social, affordable and market-price homes.

The site has long been earmarked for regeneration and is mostly empty, but the process has been beset by problems.

A previous concept was scrapped as it failed to attract a development partner as it was deemed to not be providing enough new homes, and was unsafe to carry out with residents still living in their homes.

Earlier this month, residents protested outside the council building as Westminster's cabinet decided on the option of building 750 new homes at Ebury Bridge Estate.

Of those homes, 342 would be affordable housing, and another 408 private and leaseholder homes.

The chosen scheme, scenario 7, guarantees a right of return to the housing for all secure tenants and resident leaseholders.

It also promises to fully replace all council homes, and allocates 35% of the new units to social and intermediate-rent housing.

An artist's impression of Westminster City Council's proposed Ebury Bridge Estate renewal design. Credit: Westminster City Council
An artist's impression of Westminster City Council's proposed Ebury Bridge Estate renewal design. Credit: Westminster City Council

Leaseholders would have an option to buy back into the new estate, with the option of using council-provided equity loans.

Secure residents and leaseholders would get support packages including storage, and disturbance payments during the works period.

The council's leadership touted the project as the “largest single delivery of new council homes in the heart of London for over half a century.”

However Labour has been critical of the plans and has called it in.

The council had balloted secure tenants and leaseholders only, with 60% of secure tenants and three of the six resident leaseholders who responded to its survey supporting the plan. Another 33 leaseholders did not respond.

Leader Cllr Adam Hug said the party wanted all residents to be asked their views.

"Firstly, building on the consultation so far, we believe it is important to give Ebury residents the final say on what happens to the estate through a ballot," he said.

"Especially as the Council's figures do not yet prove that the proposed 'Scenario 7' has the backing of the majority of residents."


London Mayor Sadiq Khan recently announced new rules for local authorities effective from July 18, stating that any major new regeneration scheme involving the demolition of social homes must have the backing of existing residents before it can receive City Hall funding. A consultation showed widespread support for the Mayor's mandate.

Cllr Hug said Westminster's plan needed to ensure it offered as high a proportion of affordable homes as possible.

"Given Westminster's housing crisis, we believe it is essential to ensure any Council-owned land maximises the proportion of new social and genuinely affordable homes to be built on it, and there are further steps the Council can take here, including applying for funding from the Mayor of London's Building Council Homes for Londoners programme."

The council's spokesman said it was on track to deliver more than 1,850 new council and affordable homes by 2023, and planned to renew its social rented homes, which make up around a quarter of housing in the borough.

“We also urgently need more intermediate homes within reach of key workers in the city, which currently make up only 1.5 per cent of homes.”

"The key fact is we will not sell a single piece of Ebury Bridge freehold, this will remain a council owned estate with our own residents at the heart of it. Local people will continue to have the chance to shape the proposals for the estate.”

“We have been clear that we need to develop our own range of rented and sale accommodation affordable to a range of working people. To do that in one of the most expensive areas in London requires us to be innovative and have the freedom to deliver.”

The council's housing policy and scrutiny committee are set to hold another discussion on the future of Ebury Bridge Estate on Monday, July 30, as a result of Labour's move.