With the announcement that London Mayor Boris Johnson is going ahead with the his flagship Cycle Highway linking Hyde Park with Tower Hill (pending Transport for London Board approval on 4th February) the debate surrounding cycling in London has continued to grow. Although there are still a large number of obstacles (adverse weather, dangerous driving, careless pedestrians to name but a few) facing cyclists in the city, cycling is proving to be an ever-growing popular method of transport for those travelling to and around the City of Westminster. This growth is fuelled by the widespread availability of Barclays Cycle Hire throughout the Borough, introducing cycling to a much wider audience.
Within the West End Ward, I believe we have one of the most diverse and accommodating cycling infrastructures in the city, from the chic higgledy-piggledy streets of Soho to the urban jungle of Oxford Street and surrounding streets. The East-West Cycle Superhighway proposal, recently closed to public consultations will see, if agreed, a largely segregated cycle route throughout Central London from Tower Hill to Acton. This segregation from traffic will allow for a much clear and convenient route for cyclists and increased safety for both cyclist and other road users. Coming up Constitution Hill and travelling through the Ward by Hyde Park Corner, users of the route will be treated with cutting through Hyde Park, crossing the Serpentine and back on to Westbourne Terrace.
I welcome upgrades to the cycle network and hope this investment is a big step forward in making London a safer and more accommodating city to cyclists.
Transport for London have announced that Park Lane (A4202) will be resurfaced starting early February. This resurfacing, part of Transport for London's Road Modernisation Plan will eliminate cracks, rutting and pot holes on the carriageway, making this important road safer and more reliable for London commuters. The improvement works taking place between Sunday, 8th February and Thursday, 27th February 2015 will be carried out in stages to reduce the amount of disruption caused, to maintain traffic flow and road capacity.
If you have any concerns regarding this resurfacing please do not hesitate to contact me.
I'm pleased to report that at this evening’s meeting of Westminster City Council’s Planning Committee, councillors have deferred a decision, pending a site visit, on the planning application submitted by developers which would have seen the outside courtyard of The Yard Bar enclosed with a glass platform.
As I said in my representation to the committee and blogged yesterday, The Yard is a unique place within Soho and this application is unnecessary, inappropriate and unwelcome.
The decision by the committee to defer this application is a positive one. But means further efforts will be needed to secure a full rejection of the application.
I hope the strength of opposition to the plans demonstrated by the #SavetheYard campaign, which has received support from all corners of the local community and beyond, will give the committee plenty to think about.
A second application at the site which would see the destruction of the timber roof and development of three flats above the existing first floor has yet to go before the planning committee.
Many readers will have heard about the planning proposal submitted to Westminster City Council for redevelopment of The Yard Bar in Soho.
The site an iconic venue and important independent business in Soho, but is also a unique and historic building. For these reasons I am opposing the applications.
Developers have submitted two separate applications, which are a reincarnation of proposals first submitted in 2010 and were rejected by Westminster Council but won approval on appeal.
The first would see a basement excavation under the existing courtyard to provide storage and staff room facilities, as well as enclosing the existing courtyard with a glass platform which would provide additional space upstairs, consequently removing the unique enclosed outdoor space on the ground floor. The second application would see three flats build above the existing first floor, removing the timber beamed roof.
The first application is due to be considered by Westminster planning committee tomorrow.
The Yard is a unique place within Soho. It is the only remaining stable yard and a place where people from across the communities in Soho can make use of outside space, away from the busy streets. There are 14 years remaining on the current lease and this application is unnecessary, inappropriate and unwelcome.
The proposals would be an unacceptable intensification on the site, would see customers forced out onto a busy thoroughfare to smoke creating a nuisance and would damage the local Conservation Area. There are very few places where customers can enjoy a drink and smoke away from the busy streets of Soho. Westminster seeks to preserve the culture of Soho and that does not mean there should be no development, but any proposed development must enhance the area not undermine it.
I will be speaking on behalf of residents at the planning committee tomorrow against the development and urging colleagues to reject the application.
Work is also being undertaken by the Society Society, which I am supporting, to provide long-term protection for the site with listed building status, given its unique nature.
The planning committee meets at Westminster City Halll, 64 Victoria Street at 18:30 on Tuesday 27th January 2015. There is a public gallery, but only councillors can speak.
For more information and to support the campaign, please visit http://yardbar.co.uk/
All are welcome at the public exhibition of proposals for the Audley Square Car Park and former Ascot Hotel site being held from next week. The exhibition will be held on site, in the car park, and will be open to the public from Tuesday 27 January to Friday 30 January between 3pm and 7pm and 10am to 1pm on Saturday 31 January. Please do visit the exhibition if you would like to view the proposals and have your views heard.
All are welcome at a Grosvenor Chapel Opera Gala in Grosvenor Chapel on South Audley Street on Wednesday, 28th January. Beginning at 7:30pm, this gala in support of the Chapel’s Outreach Programme will see performances by professional Soloists and combined Mayfair choirs. Ticket information and contact details for the Chapel can be found on the PDF above.
For those of us living and working in the West End Ward who use Tottenham Court Road will be as pleased as I am to hear of the opening of the new enlarged ticket hall to Northern Line customers. The new ticket hall is nearly five times the size of the old one, providing customers with a more spacious, accessible and safer travelling environment. Work continues on the Central Line services upgrades in the station and upon its completion in 2016 this ticket hall will be six times larger and serve both the Central and Northern lines. This year work will continue on a second high-capacity entrance/exit, the demolition of the old ticket hall and the complete refurbishment of the station, meaning upon the completion of Crossrail in 2018 customers will be able to interchange between lines in a safer and more accessible station.
All are welcome at a Community Carol Service in Grosvenor Chapel on South Audley Street on Tuesday, 16th December. Beginning at 6:45pm, this service will see performances by The Grosvenor Chapel Choir, the Mayfair Community Choir, St George’s School Choir, The Dorchester Choir and the UK-Japan Choir
Local residents and other users of Tottenham Court Road station should be aware that from Saturday, 3rd January to early December 2015 Central Line services will not stop at the station. This closure is needed for important modernisation work which, when completed will make the station more accessible and more user-friendly for all local residents and all commuters with the installation of eight new escalators, five lifts, new CCTV, better lighting and contrasting handrails for the visually impaired. These improvements are crucial if the station and the Central Line are going to be able to cope with the estimated 200,000 daily commuters using the station once Crossrail is complete. Those using Tottenham Court Road on a daily basis will alternatively need to use Holborn or Oxford Circus stations and local bus services.
Charing Cross Road has also been reopened for the first time since 2010, giving pedestrians direct access from Charing Cross Road to Oxford Street and traffic access north onto Tottenham Court Road.
Great Portland Estates will shortly be submitting a planning application to Westminster City Council for the regeneration of its Hanover Square Estate. The application will make a number of amendments to the original master-plan which was granted consent in May 2011. If approved, the amendments allow Great Portland Estates to deliver a bold scheme worthy of its status as being one of the first sites that new visitors will see when they exit the new Bond Street Crossrail Station when it opens in 2018. The mixed use scheme would also include a brand new public space, an increase in retail provision and upgrades along the adjoining section of Bond Street and a new roof terrace amenity space.
Great Portland Estates welcome you to have a look at the details and have your say on the proposed scheme at the public exhibition which is currently running at 23 Hanover Square between 2pm and 7pm on Thursday 4th December. A team representing the landowner, developer and architect will all be on site to answer any questions that visitors may have.
I am sure all of us who use Bond Street as our local station will be as pleased as me to hear confirmation that the full re-opening of Bond Street Underground station is being brought forward to this Friday, 5th December. Transport for London have confirmed that following the early return of Jubilee Line services in the station, Bond Street will be fully operational with both Central and Jubilee lines. As well as this, passengers will once more be able to both enter and exit the station, which should be of great relief to those living and working in the area.