Westminster council looks to stop big stores swamping Soho

Joanna Bourke
Westminster city council does not want Soho to be swamped by chain stores: JEREMY SELWYN

Westminster Council’s drive to prevent large new property developments was stepped up on Friday, as it announced a new plan for Soho.

Westminster, one of London’s richest boroughs, has proposed a new planning policy that would restrict new-build hotels to 40 bedrooms. It would also look to prevent companies bulldozing through adjoining shops to create one larger store.

The proposal is aimed at stopping the area being swamped by chain stores. It comes in the same week the council launched a consultation on making mansions smaller in the borough.

The council also said it wanted to encourage more independent music venues to open.

Westminster’s cabinet member for planning Richard Beddoe said: “By using our planning powers to create an environment where the creative industries can thrive, we’ll create more space for modern independent retailers or new start-ups, making sure Soho remains special.”

However, some in the property industry think the move could deter investors.

James Ebel, boss of retail property agent Harper Dennis Hobbs, said: “I do not think Westminster should place further restrictions on planning ... This is not the time to discourage any type of investment in London.”

Although he did point out that smaller units can still be very profitable.