The result the public vote in June on the Westbourne Green regeneration proposals was:
Westminster Council has stated that the proposals will not now go ahead.
Based on discussion at its July meeting, Westbourne Forum has written to the council about the result, stating its disappointment. The scheme had its weaknesses, and certainly needed more work. But in the Forum’s view it was a lot better than nothing, and if done well, with the involvement of local people, it would have brought many improvements that the neighbourhood needs.
The Forum believes that the scheme was closer to the aspirations of the local community than a ‘no change’ option. This view is based on:
- the Forum’s years of experience of working with residents from right across the Westbourne Green community on a host of issues;
- the community consultation carried out during 2011-2012, which identified a majority of roughly two-to-one who felt that change was needed.
However, the end result was ‘no’. According to the Forum this was because:
- The benefits of the scheme were not explained well enough.
- A number of known concerns were left unanswered, or at least the message that they would get serious attention after the vote was easy to miss.
- Community engagement in the year up to the vote was not as skilful or effective as it needed to be.
The Forum’s concern now is that the area should not suffer neglect in the years to come.
Regardless of the vote there are pressures for change which will only increase with time. In terms of population the wider Westbourne ward is one of the largest and youngest in Westminster. With wellbeing measured at 612th out of 625 wards in London it inevitably remains a focus for public services.
Meanwhile its location adjacent to Paddington – at the knot where Westway, railway, canal, and the Harrow Road meet – creates a dynamic for development. Given these social and economic realities, it is important that Westbourne remains at the heart of the council’s programmes.
In the immediate future any impetus for change and improvements may depend more on the community, and the continuing work of local organisations like the Forum. But the council has a key part to play, and the Forum’s letter to the council stressed that notwithstanding the vote, its involvement in Westbourne Green is needed as much as ever.