Score two for the developers: Pair of controversial requests get council’s approval
LONDON, ONT -- Tuesday was a big night for downtown developers as a majority of council flexed their political muscle forcing through a pair of controversial requests.
One decision will see a building demolished for a new parking lot, while the other will see a parking lot make way for two buildings.
“Supporting the refusal does not mean we’re not going to be developing here. We will be,” said councillor Anna Hopkins speaking on the high rise proposal for 556 Wellington Street.
Inconsistent planning permissions have the property zoned for up to 26 stories, but 12 and 18 story proposals were deemed inconsistent with its location within the West Woodfield Heritage Conservation District by city staff and neighbours.
“My fear is that there will be no building or development that will meet those stringent requirements,” said councillor Steve Lehman.
Ultimately, Council overruled its own Planning Committee voting 9 to 5 to grant the permit, paving the way for construction.
“What’s there now is a very nondescript and ugly parking lot. In this case here we’ve said ‘this is a great plan,’” said Mayor Ed Holder.
On the other side of the downtown, another decision whether to grant a demolition permit for a heritage building to pave the way for a new surface parking lot.
“It’s not moving us forward, it’s moving us back to the 1950s,” said councillor Stephen Turner.
Last week the Planning Committee was deadlocked on granting Farhi Holdings a demolition for 120 York Street.
Councillor Turner arguing downtown policies discourage demolition to create more surface parking.
However, Council still voted 11-3 to permit the demolition.
“It gives an opportunity for the owner of the property to be able to have parking for the employees of the firms nearby,” said Holder.
Both decisions by council could be argued as being inconsistent with policies that influence development in the core, and both are victories for developers.