Westminster has recently transformed in the public consciousness from a rather sedate area associated with politics to a vibrant residential neighbourhood teeming with activity. As a result, many current and future residents are now looking to buy a property in this upmarket district.
Here, we outline the current Westminster City Council policy, as well as the various schemes for home ownership available for Westminster residents. There are also details on relevant Residents Associations.
The Westminster Housing Policy, which outlines how housing priorities and social housing allocations are assessed, is laid out in a document available on the Westminster City Council website, along with maps of all temporary housing in Westminster.
There are a variety of home ownership options in Westminster, many of which are run jointly by Westminster City Council, CityWest Homes and other partner housing associations.
For current council tenants in the area, home ownership services include ‘The Right to Buy’ scheme, which offers tenants of Westminster City Council the opportunity to buy their current council-owned property and the Discretionary Scheme for those who have been tenants for fewer than two years.
Flexible Ownership is also an option, where tenants are able to buy their home in stages rather than outright - starting with as little as 25% of the property and paying a reduced rent in return.
For first-time buyers or those who have not owned a property for at least two years, the Shared Ownership Scheme offers residents the opportunity to buy between 25% and 75% of a property while paying reduced rent on the rest.
Most of the properties in this scheme are from new developments owned by Westminster City Council partner housing associations, and include flats and maisonettes. Westminster City Council tenants, a selection of Westminster Housing Register applicants and some housing association tenants living in the area also qualify as a priority category for this scheme.
The most inclusive home ownership service in Westminster is the Homebuy scheme for which key workers, Westminster City Council tenants, housing association tenants and those registered on Westminster’s rented waiting list may be eligible.
This scheme is designed to help residents buy a home in the open market throughout England, by offering a loan for 25% of the property purchase price on the condition that the tenants pay the other 75%. The loan is not required to be paid back until the property is resold.
Full details on all Westminster City Council schemes can be found on the dedicated Homeownership Westminster website.
There are a number of Residents Associations currently operating in Westminster, organisations which allow residents to have a greater say about issues and topics affecting the local community. This can also extend to control over the maintenance of public facilities, such as an estate garden.
Successful Residents Associations in Westminster include the Knightsbridge Association, which has been promoting the interests of residents in the SW1X area since the 1960s and the South East Bayswater Residents Association in W2.
If you feel that your area would benefit from a formal Residents Association, it is possible to make a case and apply for this online. For more information, see the dedicated City West Homes page on Local Management Agreements.
We hope this information has been useful. Just give us a call if you’d like us to arrange viewings to some stunning Westminster properties for sale or to rent in areas with successful Residents Associations.
Council Tax is a property charge paid by residents, owners or tenants of a property in the UK. The amount varies depending on the region or borough and can be paid jointly if the inhabitants are married, living together or joint tenants.
The amount is set by the local government, which has lead to a range in Council Tax charges across the UK. Westminster benefits from having the lowest Council Tax rates in England, a very good reason to buy a house here.
Council Tax in Westminster is arranged into bands depending on the value of the property in question in 1991. The property band can be confirmed via the Government website, and for Westminster it is divided into the following valuation bands and taxes (correct as of 2016/17):
Band A - Property value up to £40,000 - Council Tax of £445.87 per annum
Band B - Property value up to £52,000 - Council Tax of £520.19 per annum
Band C - Property value up to £68,000 - Council Tax of £594.49 per annum
Band D - Property value up to £88,000 - Council Tax of £668.81 per annum
Band E - Property value up to £120,000 - Council Tax of £817.43 per annum
Band F - Property value up to £160,000 - Council Tax of £966.06 per annum
Band G - Property value up to £320,000 - Council Tax of £1,114.68 per annum
Band H - Property value over £320,000 - Council Tax of £1,337.62 per annum
If you feel that your property has been valued incorrectly into the wrong band, it is possible to appeal against this via the Government website. You could also approach us for advice and a free home valuation before making your appeal.
The easiest way to pay your Council Tax to Westminster City Council is via monthly Direct Debit. You will need your Council Tax reference which can be found on a Council Tax bill as well as your bank account details.
Council Tax can also be paid online with a debit card, by post, in person at the bank or post office or via their 24-hour automated payment line. Read more about Council Tax in Westminster here.
Businesses are required to pay a Business Rates Bill rather than Council Tax, due to the commercial nature of the premises. These are charged on most non-domestic properties, including shops, factories, offices and guest houses. These bills are sent to the premises in February or March each year. There are certain exceptions, such as in the case of farm buildings, places of public, religious worship or buildings used for the welfare of the disabled, in which case they are exempt from Business Rates.
There are a number of exemptions to the Council Tax bill, with certain groups eligible to apply for reduced Council Tax. Full-time students are not required to pay any Council Tax, one of the primary reasons why properties to rent in Westminster appeal to students. However, they must confirm their attendance via a student certificate or written confirmation..
If the property is a second home, a discount of up to 50% can be applied depending on the circumstances. Severely mentally impaired residents are fully exempt from Council Tax, while those with disabilities may be eligible for a reduction.
Properties with single occupancy are entitled to a 25% discount and this still applies if there are other residents in the house who are completely exempt (children under the age of 18, full-time students or those with mental disabilities).
Exemptions also apply if the property is left empty, the residents are carers, apprentices or in prison or occupied by those of a low income. Read more about Council Tax exemptions here.
If you are looking into carrying out alterations or improvements to your property in Westminster, including extensions and basement excavations, a form of consent known as planning permission from the Westminster City Council is likely to be required.
Applications are necessary if residents are seeking to build something new, make a change to the building (including extensions or changes in appearance) or change the use of all or part of the building.For listed buildings, further consent is required from the council’s online Planning Portal. The status of a building can be verified through the Listed Building Database.
It is a criminal offence to carry out building works both internal and external, on a listed building without consent from the council - even if the residents were unaware of the building’s listed status. Information on current and historic applications can be found publicly online on the Westminster City Council website.
The best way to apply for planning permission in Westminster is online through either the iApply system or the Planning Portal. Most applications require supporting documents such as a location plan and a site plan which can be arranged through the Planning Portal prior to the application being made. Fees for applications vary and can be suggested via the Fee Calculator.
All planning applications are subject to a rigorous validation process, and are usually expected to be in-line with the local planning authority’s development plan. These development plans will include details on aspects including the external appearance of buildings, the likely impact on the surrounding area and the infrastructure available.
Once the claim has been validated, it becomes publicly available and neighbours will be notified unless a notice is posted near the proposed site, giving the community the opportunity to express their views. The relevance of these views will be taken into account by the local planning authority.
The majority of planning applications will be refused or granted within 8-13 weeks, depending on the size and nature of the project. If a decision is not reached in this time, it is possible to make an appeal. Applicants will be notified of the decision by letter.
Once granted, planning permission will expire after a certain period of time, usually three years from the date the permission was granted. If work hasn’t begun by this time, it may be necessary to reapply. Minor changes to the plan following approval can be made but must be approved by the local planning authority.
These clear-cut guidelines are one of the major reasons why individuals looking to add a luxury home to their portfolio with the intent of renovating the exteriors at a later date, opt to invest in Westminster property.
General advice on planning proposals is available on the online Planning Portal and Westminster City Council also offers a pre-planning application advice service for any residents or future residents who are considering submitting a planning application but want to confirm the validity of their request. This is an excellent way to find out if a proposal is likely to be accepted and also to discover if specialist input will be needed.
The fee for this service varies depending on the type of permission being applied for, ranging from £300 for written advice on permission for altering or extending an individual house or flat (with unlisted status) to £4,800 for an initial scoping meeting on large-scale development for 100 or more residential units. If the query is related to trees or disabled access improvement, the fee for advice is waived.
If you feel that your application has been wrongfully rejected by the council or disagree with the outcome, an appeal can be made to the Planning Inspectorate, an independent body to the local planning authority.
We hope this information has been useful. If you have any questions about Westminster City Council planning or need a free home valuation, get in touch with our knowledgeable Westminster property experts.
Contact details for useful services within Westminster, including information on Westminster City Council, key educational establishments, employment resources and recreational activities.
Address: 21 Grosvenor Place, London SW1X 7EA, United Kingdom
Phone: 020 7245 2000
For information on recycling and waste collection, see the Westminster City Council’s Recycling page. Collection times vary according to address.
Westminster Registry Office
Address: 317 Harrow Road, London W9 3RJ
Phone: 020 7641 7500
Residents looking for employment, job support or advice can benefit from a number of support services in Westminster, including a Jobcentre Plus, drop-in advice sessions at Paddington Library, and courses at the Abbey Centre.
University of Westminster Career Development Centre
Address: 309 Regent Street, London W1B 2HW
Phone: 020 7911 5000
Families and Communities Employment Services (FACES)
Phone: 020 7641 3336
Abbey Centre Into Work Support
Address: 34 Great Smith Street, London SW1p 3BU
Phone: 020 7222 0303
Westminster is home to a wide range of educational establishments, from primary schools to higher education. For more details on education in Westminster, see our guide here.
City of Westminster College
Address: 25 Paddington Green, London W2 1NB
Phone: 020 7723 8826
Westminster City School
Address: 55 Palace St, London SW1E 5HJ
Phone: 020 7963 6300
Address: 309 Regent St, London W1B 2UW
Phone: 020 7911 5000
Westminster City Council operates a number of public libraries, where you’ll find free WIFI, events, computers for public use, books and resources for loan and more. The area also benefits from various parks and sports facilities.
Charing Cross Library (including Westminster Chinese Library)
Address: 4 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0HF
Phone: 020 7641 6200
Church Street Library
Address: 67 Church Street, London, NW8 8EU
Phone: 020 7641 6200
Westminster Music Library
Address: 160 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 9UD
Phone: 020 7641 6200 (press 3)
Westminster Reference Library
Address: 35 St. Martin's Street, London, WC2H 7HP
Phone: 020 7641 6200 (press 2)
Address: 4 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA
Phone: 0844 248 3776
Westminster is served by a number of underground stations, as well as many bus routes and Victoria Station, Paddington Station and Marylebone Station. Westminster has many streets inside the congestion charge zone, and residents within the zone are eligible for a 90% discount for up to one vehicle.
Read more on Westminster City Council congestion charges here.
Westminster Underground Station
Address: Westminster Station, London Underground Ltd, Bridge St, London SW1A 2JR
Address: Victoria Street, London SW1E 5ND
Phone: 0343 222 1234
Address: Praed Street, London W2
Phone: 0343 222 1234
Address: Great Central House, Melcombe Place, London NW1
Phone: 0843 222 1234
Westminster is home to a variety of educational establishments, ranging from primary education upto postgraduate qualifications. Many of the schools, located within walking distance of exquisite Westminster properties for sale are administered by the Westminster Children’s Service, while fee-paying independent schools can also be found for children of primary and secondary school age.
There are over 40 state-funded primary schools in Westminster, and around 15 fee-paying primary and prep schools. Both coeducational and single sex options are available, as well as faith schools for Judaism, Catholicism and the Church of England. In addition, two bilingual French schools can be found — L’Ecole Bilingue Elementaire and L’Ecole Internationale Franco-Anglaise.
Applications for state-run primary schools can be made online from September until January prior to the September intake and offers will be made in April. Preferences can be noted, as well as information on siblings, exceptional medical reasons or exceptional social reasons for choices. Applications for independent schools vary and must be verified via the individual school website.
For infants, there are also 28 primary schools in the Westminster area which offer nursery classes in addition to their primary teaching. No wonder properties to rent in Westminster are sought-after.
Westminster offers a wide range of excellent secondary schools, including state schools, private schools, Church of England schools, Roman Catholic schools and Academies. Particularly renowned institutions in the include Westminster School and Francis Holland School, while for a different curriculum there is The American School in London, Sylvia Young Theatre School and The Royal Ballet School.
Applications for a secondary school place at one of the state-run schools must be made while the child is in year 6 of primary school, with offers being received at the beginning of March every year. As with applications for primary schools, preferences can be noted and applications for independent schools must be verified via the individual school website.
In-year applications can also be made for children wishing to transfer or who have recently arrived in the area. Read more about In-Year applications here.
For information on the performance of individual schools, Ofsted inspection reports for schools in Westminster can be accessed here while term dates for Westminster City Council run schools are updated on this page.
With so many education options available, and the possibility of applying online to secondary schools and state-run primary schools, selling a house in Westminster is a breeze and with our free home valuation, you’re sure to receive a fair price.
Westminster is home to the University of Westminster, a public university with a main campus on Regent Street and additional campuses in Marylebone, Fitzrovia and Harrow. It is currently ranked within the Global Top 40 Universities by the QS World University Rankings and 77th in the UK in the Times Educational Supplement, as well as having a strong reputation for research excellence. Former students include Cherie Blair and Ezra Pound.
The university offers a wide range of subjects in around 45 departments. Both undergraduate and postgraduate courses are offered, while annual tuition fees vary from £5,000 up to £13,500 for EU students.
Westminster also offers vocational and short-term courses at the City of Westminster college, Central London’s top vocational further education college. A-levels can be taken here, as well as vocational courses in subjects including Performing Arts, Business and Administration and Applied Science, as well as diplomas and adult evening courses.
The University of Westminster
309 Regent St, London W1B 2UW, United Kingdom
020 7911 5000
City of Westminster College
25 Paddington Green, London W2 1NB, United Kingdom
020 7723 8826
We hope this information has been useful. We have plenty of student friendly accommodation in our portfolio so if you need viewings arranged for conveniently located Westminster properties to rent, let us know.
The city of Westminster with its iconic attractions, stunning Victorian and Georgian architecture, Parliament buildings and landscaped Royal Parks is increasingly regarded by single professionals, couples and families as a great district to live and work in.
Where do I park? Are there any permits I can buy? What parking restrictions do I need to be aware of? are just a few of the questions we receive from clients who contact us for assistance finding the perfect Westminster property. We have therefore put together some information on parking which we hope will help.
Regarding permits, the three most commonly purchased permits are:
Resident Parking Permit - If you own a car or motorbike, we recommend you apply for this. Your registration, application and permit purchase can be done online; unless you own an eco or electric car in which case you need to post your application to Westminster City Council.
Trade Permit - You can get one of these if you’re renting a house near Westminster and need to travel across Westminster frequently for work purposes.
White Badge - Consider applying for a White Badge if you are a disabled resident or nonresident who visits the borough of Westminster regularly for work, medical or educational purposes.
As a car owner, you can enjoy free parking in the resident parking zone your permit indicates, as well as in Resident, Shared-use and Paid-for-bays (before 9:30 AM and after 5:30 PM) within your parking zone.
If you ride a motorcycle, you can park at any motorcycle bay in Westminster, London as well as Resident, Shared-use and Paid-for-bays within your zone.
Incase you need to park in another zone, use the very efficient ParkRight App which is effective in locating on-street empty parking spots. Alternatively, try the Parking Locator which enables you to book your spot in advance.
These parking privileges are one of the primary reasons why properties to rent in Westminster are swiftly occupied.
Note: One parking area your permit doesn’t cover is the City West Homes managed council estates or private housing estates.
You can park in a number of bays within the parking zone where you are offering your services. We suggest you use the Pay-to-Park bays since you will receive a 20% discount.
With this permit in hand, you can park free in Resident and Paid-for bays. In Blue Badge bays, a 4 hr maximum period during controlled hours is imposed and on single yellow lines no parking is allowed during controlled hours.
A little insight into parking restrictions in Westminster will go a long way to avoiding a ticket. Common parking faux pas include parking:
Read more about parking restrictions here.
Should you have forgotten your permit or left your vehicle in a non-designated spot, chances are that you have or will shortly receive a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) or parking ticket. You can either challenge this or pay up. If you choose the former, raise your concern online or post your written challenge to Westminster Parking Services.
If you believe the ticket is justly issued, we recommend payment within 14 days (21 if its a CCTV parking PCN) as doing so, will give you a 50% discount.