Please see below for the latest Crossrail works information sheet regarding the BFK demobilisation at the western ticket hall on Davies Street and the removal of the ‘crane deck’.
This year the Pride organisation have been asking for support for a national letter writing campaign called #FreedomTo Represent. It has asked for politicians at local, national and European levels to write a letter detailing the importance of Pride. Although simple, this technique sends a powerful message to all about the LGBT representations in the UK today. I have written and support this campaign so please take the time to write or blog on this subject.
This year's annual Pride in London has already started and ends on 28 June. The annual Pride Parade and other events take place on Saturday 27 June and further details can be found via the website http://prideinlondon.org/pride2015/.
Originally published by Huffington Post on 19/06/2015
With some reports suggesting house prices in central London have cooled dramatically and increasing demand for commercial space in the Capital will the market now cool the mania for office to residential conversions?
When the Government's reforms to planning law came into force in 2012, the new rules told developers councils "should normally approve planning applications for change to residential use and any associated development from commercial buildings." Westminster City Council won an exception from this for Central Activities Zone, recognising the unique nature of our City - but that has not stopped the surge of developments seeking, and winning, consent. Some 5,000,000 square feet of commercial space in Westminster has been converted or is consented for conversion and many more schemes are in the pipeline.
Westminster's City Plan, produced when commercial values were significantly higher than residential, sought to address the then market pressure to convert from residential to office by establishing a presumption in favour of commercial to residential. That presumption is now being revised so that developers will have to prove special circumstances to undertake commercial to residential conversion and provide replacement commercial space. Although this is a welcome move has the market itself already begun to correct this?
There is no doubt about the market's appetite and the need for more homes across London, but sacrificing valuable and desirable commercial space in the engine room of the London economy is no longer the right solution, particularly if these homes remain unlived -in and are merely safe havens for investors to park their money, rather than homes for London's workforce. Converting prime-commercial into residential accommodation is not how we will maintain and enhance vibrant communities in the centre of our city nor will empty flats support the local shops, restaurants and services which make the very glue that holds such communities together. It is ironic that these very factors which make London such an attractive place in which to live should be threatened by a policy designed to build more homes.
So as the London Land Commission seeks to identify brown field sites for 400,000 new homes in London they should be mindful of the need to preserve commercial space for firms to expand. Failure to do so could leave thousands of businesses literally squeezed out of the Capital and with them the jobs relied up to by the thousands of new tenants for those homes. Particularly from amongst the creative industries, small start-up businesses, professional firms and other SMEs which have thrived in the properties now being converted and permanently lost to commercial use.
We have already seen the market shift as tax changes on residential property have kicked in, including (ATED) on properties held within corporate envelopes and higher rates of SDLT, the froth at the very top of the London residential market has faded away. Talk to Estate Agents in Westminster and they will tell you properties are sitting on the books for longer than they have for some time, bucking a national trend which has seen the number of homes for sale fall to their lowest level in nearly 40 years.
When the assumption of developers is that even poorly equipped and located properties will necessarily achieve £2,500 per square foot in the West End just because of their post code the market has clearly overshot. The market which has now caught them out and many units remain unsold or unlet as the investors come to terms with real return (often sub 2%) that they can obtain from their investment. These properties will now come back to the market at more realistic sale or rent prices and help to lessen the shortage of homes which they were planned to address.
At the same time, news this week of the continuing success of London's £18bn tech industry and the inflow of investment to the sector, which is now rivalling the City as the powerhouse behind the UK's economy, shows the growing desire for international firms to locate in London, and they are increasingly looking for office space outside the traditional silicon roundabout hotspot. Not only does this inward investment help to rebalance the UK economy away from financial services to a broader base, it also signals the need to ensure our city can continue to grow. The opening of Crossrail in 2018 will add significantly to this demand as Central London become easier to access. There is no question that Greater London needs more homes of all tenures.
Office rents have now reached record levels in central London and the ripple effect is being felt far beyond the Central core where rents of £120 per square foot on the best space has seen the small office suites in Marylebone, Fitzrovia and Bloomsbury head up to £75 per square foot and beyond.
As the market changes again and with booming demand for commercial premisesacross the city seeing West End vacancy levels fall to just 2.3% and booming rents, developers are now looking again at their numbers and schemes like Derwent Valley's Savile Row and others across Fitzrovia, Soho and St James which have consent for conversation but increasingly look unlikely to be developed as residential.
As a very famous Lady once put it "You can't buck the market".
Due to unforeseen circumstances Costain Skanska, Crossrail's contractor, will be undertaking works in the newly constructed platform tunnels from Thursday 11 June to Friday 19 June.
Works may take place at anytime of the day/night but steps will be taken to minimise disruption to the local community and visitors.
Queries can be answered by the Crossrail 24-hour public helpdesk on 034 5602 3813. Further information can be found on the Crossrail website via http://www.crossrail.co.uk/route/stations/bond-street/.
As part of a series of crime prevention advice notices, the Metropolitan police have issued the following advice and simple steps to avoid becoming a victim of Car Crime:
· Always lock your vehicle and use an Alarm and Immobilizer. Motor cycles should have a disk lock fitted and be secured with a ground anchor.
· Always protect your keys, never leave a running vehicle unattended and place your keys and any vehicle documents out of sight in your home.
· Steering wheel locks or wheel clamps are also recommended.
· Fitting locking wheel nuts will reduce the likelihood of wheels and tyres from being stolen.
· Tamper resistant screws will prevent your number plates being stolen.
· All items should be taken with you or removed from open view and placed in the boot.
· Consider having your car or bike security marked with one of the recommended methods or fitted with a tracking device.
· When driving in slow moving traffic activate your central locking and keep your windows up and your handbag or valuables down in the footwell.
· When parking try to leave your vehicle in a safe place that is managed with security staff, good lighting, and CCTV surveillance – for a list of Police approved parking places please visit British Parking Association
Keyless car crime
· Ask to see proof of the seller's identity and address - an official letter or driving licence, for example.
· Make sure the vehicle's VIN matches that on the registration document (V5) - The VIN, formerly known as the chassis number, is a unique 17 character number issued to every vehicle by the manufacturer and can be found: Stamped on the body chassis or frame on a manufacturer's VIN plate under the bonnet or fixed to the post between the front and rear doors or on an additional plate fixed securely to the top corner of the dashboard where it can easily be seen through the windscreen - this is called a visible VIN.
· Never buy a vehicle without the registration document (V5) - make sure it has a DVLA watermark and has not been altered in any way.
· If in doubt, ask the AA, RAC or another reputable organisation to inspect the vehicle before agreeing to buy.
· You can check the vehicle's history and second-hand status by contacting Equifax HPI.
If you're buying a used vehicle, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) can also tell you what it knows about the vehicle. That information can include the make and model, the year it was built, and whether tax is owed on the vehicle.
In an emergency you should dial 999, for all other calls to the Metropolitan Police Service please call 101 our non-emergency number. If you wish to report a crime, please see our section on reporting crime - click to report a crime
- Visit the Westminster Police Website
Road Resurfacing Works - Mount Street, Hay's Mews, Rex Place, Balfour Place, Hill Street and Aldford Street
Over the next 6 weeks a series of carriageway resurfacing works will take place across the West End to repair and upgrade the road surface on Mount Street, Hay's Mews, Rex Place, Balfour Place, Hill Street and Aldford Street.
These works are scheduled for May and June, the detail of which is as follows:
Mount Street- Rex Place to Park Lane including junction with Park Street
Carriageway resurfacing on 26/05/2015
Hay's Mews- entire length (Chesterfield Hill to Waverton Street/Hill Street to Charles Street/Hays Mews to Chesterfield Hill)
Carriageway resurfacing on 28/05/2015
Rex Place- Aldford Street to South Street
Carriageway resurfacing on 11/06/2015
Balfour Place- Mount Street to Aldford Street
Carriageway resurfacing on 12/06/2015
Hill Street- South Audley Street to Berkeley Square
Carriageway resurfacing on 15/06/2015
Aldford Street- Park Street to South Audley Street including area beyond Park Street
Carriageway resurfacing on 23/06/2015
The works will be undertaken between 8am and 6pm to ensure minimal disturbance to residents.
1.Don’t drink too much
TIPS ALSO TO AVOID BECOMING VICTIM OF MOBILE PHONE THEFT:
- Ensure it's harder for thieves to get at your phone by making a habit of keeping it in a secure or zipped pocket
- If you are getting out your phone out in the street, don't attract attention to it - try to avoid texting/checking it as you are walking along and be especially alert when taking it out as you emerge from a train/tube station - these are often hotspots.
Fitzrovia Festival 2015 will take place from Wednesday 3 to Sunday 28 June with exhibitions, talks and walks.
The first event kicks off next week with an exhibition of textiles of quilts and other art and craftworks made by women at the Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Centre.
A full list of events for Fitzrovia Festival 2015 is here http://festival.fitzrovia.org.uk/events/