Archive for 2015
The Crossrail contractor appointed to provide the power, utilities, track systems and other services within the central tunnel areas (known as the Systemwide works) has begun enabling works within the tunnels below the new Crossrail Bond Street station. This marks the beginning of work to install rail tracks within the central section of Crossrail.
From 12 January 2016 night time concreting will commence for the construction of the rail track, which is specially designed to minimise operational noise and vibration transmission. Concrete pumping equipment will be enclosed within an acoustic shed in order to mitigate against potential noise disruption.
Pumping concrete to construct the rail track between Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road, will take place from January to July 2016 every fourth night. The night time working has been chosen to reduce daytime traffic congestion in the vicinity of the work site.
For further details regarding the works, please see the information sheet below:
The new south plaza entrance to the station is now open in what is a major milestone for the stations upgrade.
The 15 metre tall glass entrance to Tottenham Court Road has also been greeted by the announcement that Central Line trains will now be stopping at the station again from Monday 7 December.
These works are part of TFL’s £500 million upgrade to the station and will be fully completed in 2016. Please follow this link to find out more about the new entrance and details of what the station will feature in the future: Tottenham Court Road Upgrade
Please see the information sheet below which gives information about the slip form works which are currently taking place at the Bond Street Western Ticket Hall over the next two weeks.
Next Tuesday, 1st December, is World AIDS Day, and G-A-Y have launched a ‘10k challenge’, in conjunction with 56 Dean Street.
For more information on the challenge, launched by G-A-Y owner Jeremy Joseph, please take a look at the graphic attached, or click this link and share the tweet from Jeremy.
Novikov Restaurant and Bar will be hosting the Mayfair Christmas Market on Saturday 28 November from 10am till 9pm. The event will see the whole of Mayfair Place closed off to traffic and turned into a festive event.
To find out more about this event please visit the following link: Mayfair Christmas Market
In order to install new services, both BT and UK Power Networks will be working within the Bond Street Eastern Ticket Hall site to complete service diversion works over the next month. This works will last until late-December. The majority of the works will be carried out within the existing CSJV footprint, however please see below for the information sheet which details what to expect as the works take place:
In order for CSJV to complete the next phase of works, including the ventilation shaft, the site boundary will be moved along Gilbert Street from today (9 November) until late December 2015. The footpath will be diverted. Please see below for further detailed information:
There are two major demonstrations this week which may have an adverse affect on businesses and residents. There are full policing plans in place for each event. Please see below for information on both events:
National Campaign Against Cuts and Fees – Wednesday 4th November 2015
A number of student groups are holding a march and rally through Central London campaigning against student cuts . Police have increased the expected numbers to 300,000 people.
Areas around Charing Cross Road, the Strand and Victoria will be particularly affected with protesters assemble at 12:00hrs at Malet Street. Route includes Russell Square, Southampton Row, High Holborn, Charing Cross Road, Trafalgar Square, Whitehall, Parliament Square, Millbank, Smith Square, Horseferry Road and concluding at Great Smith Street J/W Victoria Embankment.
Million Mask March – Thursday 5th November 2015
The protest group Anonymous organised an annual, global event titled the Million Mask March. Numbers are currently anticipated to be in excess of 3,500.
The London event, described as a “friendly gathering of minds”, will take place at 18.00 hours in Trafalgar Square. However, some social media entries are actively trying to encourage attendees to cause trouble.
There is no intelligence to indicate anywhere in London will be specifically targeted or that there will be any antisocial or criminal behaviour during this event. Previously demonstrators have targeted Buckingham Palace, Soho, Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square.
In case of any emergency always call 999.
200-300 volunteers per night are need to make this immersive theatre experience work. No experience is necessary and all are welcome to take part in a unique experience. Please see the poster below for further details:
Benesco Charity Ltd will shortly be submitting a planning application to Westminster City Council for the refurbishment of 53-55 Frith Street and 8-10 Bateman Street.
The proposal is to extensively refurbish the buildings to provide improved office, residential, retail and restaurant accommodation.
If you would like further information or a separate briefing on the proposals, please do not hesitate to contact Matthew Richards on 020 3697 4294 or via email email@example.com.
Please find below the latest Information Sheet about alternative vehicle routes and the demobilisation of the BFK tunnelling works in the Crossrail Bond Street western ticket hall.
CONSERVATIVE LONDON MAYORAL SELECTION
YOU DECIDE - LONDONERS INVITED TO HELP THE PARTY CHOOSE ITS CANDIDATE
The Conservative Party is holding an online primary to select its candidate for the 2016 London Mayoral Election. Anyone in London who is on the electoral roll can register to vote to help the party choose who will stand for the Conservatives in the election next year.
The current Mayor of London Boris Johnson was selected as the Conservative candidate in 2007 using a primary and the party is again giving all Londoners the opportunity to be involved in the process.
Four candidates have been shortlisted to stand in the primary. Andrew Boff, Zac Goldsmith, Stephen Greenhalgh and Syed Kamall .
Please see below the latest Information Sheet about the demobilisation of the BFK tunnelling works in the Crossrail Bond Street western ticket hall.
A planning application for the redevelopment of Nightingale House, on Curzon Street, will shortly be submitted to Westminster City Council.
The proposal is to provide a new high-quality residential building, with a new retail arcade on the ground floor linking Stratton Street and Curzon Street.
If you have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Genting UK PLC will shortly be submitting a planning application to Westminster City Council for the redevelopment of the Park Lane Mews Hotel on Stanhope Row and a number of adjacent properties.
The site currently benefits from two existing permissions for the site granted in 2010 and 2013 (09/09841/FULL and 12/10538/FULL) for the redevelopment of the site for a new hotel with an ancillary casino.
The current planning application, necessitated by the change in ownership of the site, broadly follows the same principles of the existing planning permissions – a new hotel, with ancillary residential and casino uses, designed to a high quality.
If you have any further questions please email email@example.com.
A new scheme which shows the quality and capacity of internet and broadband connectivity in buildings is now being introduced, similar to the scores on the doors scheme for restaurants and catering premises.
Building owners can now make clear how good the connectivity is and prospective tenants can assess whether the connectivity is sufficient for their needs.
As Lead Member for Broadband and Connectivity at Westminster we have been working with the City and major landowners and stakeholders to encourage them to ensure that sufficient capacity is built into their developments and refurbishments in the same way as sufficient supplies of water and electricity are taken as a given.
Individual occupiers can then key into this infrastructure according to their specific needs.
This is a useful step towards ensuring that the current areas poorly served by the historic infrastructure can be given the kind of service that they need to operate businesses in the twenty first century.
Please follow this link http://wiredscore.london/ to the scheme.
My article for Conservative Home with Owen Meredith.
Earlier this month, the government announced a significant but under reported change in the way the NHS in England will issue prescription medicines. From next year, medicines that cost more than £20 per pack will have the indicative cost, alongside the words “funded by the UK taxpayer” printed on the pack.
This is a welcome and bold move. It takes another step in the direction of empowering people and providing them with more information about the public services they use. We have written before about the importance of users of all public services better understanding the cost and value of those services. Not only does this help greater understanding of the politics and economics of public services, is also gets over the something-for-nothing culture that often prevails.
It would be madness not to look at the £14.4 billion cost of prescription drugs to the NHS, which rose 7.6 per cent last year, at a time when the NHS needs to find £22 billion of efficiency savings over the next five years. These savings need to be made even while NHS spending as a whole is protected and will in fact rise by £10 billion.
In an article in September 2012, we argued:
The move by Jeremy Hunt to inform patients of the costs of medicines dispensed on prescription is another very welcome step along that pathway to better transparency and understanding. Let us also take this opportunity to remind ourselves why this is needed. As it stands, we are expected to deliver a budget deficit of £69.5 billion in 2015/16, that is spending £1,000 more than we raise in taxes – this year alone – for every man, woman and child living in the UK. With Government departments needing to find 40 per cent savings in order to plug that gap and deliver balanced books, we need to bring public opinion with us when cutting the size of the state. The easiest way to do that is to show people exactly what it costs.“To rebalance the economy and restore a rational state, the Government needs to act boldly and remind taxpayers just what it is they are paying for… following a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Ben Gummer MP, Osborne took the next baby step in the transparency agenda and adopted individual tax statements… but tax statements are only one side of the coin… What is also needed is a personalised statement of services to be issued alongside your tax statement… to break the cycle of dependency and deliver a smaller State, we need everyone to be more connected to what we get and what we pay for it.”
And there is plenty of evidence to support the case. In Wales where prescriptions are free, Paracetamol – which costs as little as little as 23 pence over the counter – is prescribed on the NHS at the rate of more than 1 million prescriptions a year. In fact, doctors in Wales wrote more than 74 million prescriptions for free medication last year. The statistics published by the Welsh Government reveal that the number of prescription drugs being issued is now 52 per cent higher than a decade ago. This is a scandalous waste of public resources. Simply reminding people (and doctors) of the cost to their purse and those of other taxpayers would have a behavioural impact on demand that could reduce demand by at least 20 per cent.
Take another example, there have been numerous studies on the cost of pathology tests and how simply changes to request forms or making doctors aware of the cost of tests dramatically reduces the number of unnecessary tests carried out. Replicating this across all public services is a sensible approach to reduce waste and manage costs.
In making this simple change, Jeremy Hunt is seeking to tackle the level of prescription waste, which costs the NHS £300 million a year. He is beginning to broker a new deal between the citizen and State and in so doing will reaffirm the value of public services received.
Unfortunately I will be absent from this month’s Surgery due to unforeseen circumstances . However, my colleague, Councillor Glenys Roberts, will be representing the Ward at St Anne’s Church, 55 Dean Street from 5pm to 6pm.
If you are unable to attend this drop-in and have Ward issues to raise , Councillor Paul Church, will be taking a surgery on Saturday 1 August at 2pm at Danceworks, Balderton St.
I look forward to seeing you as usual at the next Surgery which will be taking place on Friday 28 August.
Dumped rubbish on Westminster's streets is an ongoing battle within the Ward and 75 City Inspectors are now on our streets to comabt this issue.
Please help us keep our streets clean by reporting flytipping online. Either send details and photos to us on Twitter using #FightFlytippers or fill in our quick online form at westminster.gov.uk/report-it.
Please see below to view the latest works notification about the closure of Dean Street to through traffic to facilitate the removal of a scaffolding structure around the Nellie Dean public house.
Please also note that contractor, Laing O’Rouke, will be receiving a large welfare cabin delivery at the Goslett Yard worksite on the morning of 22 July 2015 approx 6am. The large load will be brought in under escort.
Many residents and business in the West End and elsewhere in Westminster are frustrated by the inability to access cost-effective superfast broadband. Small and medium sized businesses which make up the bulk of those operating in the West End are told by BT that they should be able to operate on the residential standard basis which operate on a shared arrangement , not unlike the old party-lines which means that the limited bandwidth available is divided and rationed between many users. At busy times their access to the internet and email is effectively slowed down to make the running of a business in the 21st century practically impossible. As use of the internet increases and programmes need more band with the position will only get worse.
As Lead Member for Broadband and Connectivity my inbox is full of those complaining of the lack of service and whilst larger businesses can fend for themselves and have a wide choice of higher capacity providers , smaller businesses and residents are told that there is no prospect of upgrading the 4 exchanges in Westminster for a better service that can be provided by Fibre to the Cabinet as BT, who control the infrastructure state ”there is no demand” and it is prohibitively expensive to do so in central London because the residential population “not sufficiently dense”.
This is clearly counter-intuitive and , in my view, nonsense.
In order to address this, and enjoy the unheard of luxury of being able to watch a programme on Netfix without it constantly stopping for buffering we need to provide evidence of demand.
Please follow the link and this on the Westminster City Council website (https://www.westminster.gov.uk/broadband) to show that there is indeed demand to help us get broadband fit for a World class city in the 21st Century.
An investigation, has shown that 341,592 residents across London are without high-speed broadband connection. London’s average internet speed is 25Mbps which makes it one of the worst capital cities in. It is important that we take the time to campaign and invest in this area to help bring the capital back up to a competitive international standard.
Surprisingly Westminster is the borough at the bottom of the pack with 103,000 of its residents without high-speed broadband connection. The map (below), recently produced by The Mayor of London, shows details of black spots across London. By visiting http://maps.london.gov.uk/webmaps/nextgenbroadband/ you will be able to search your postcode and will be given the chance to request faster broadband for the borough.
Hellman's are creating a pop up Mediterranean garden which will be set up tomorrow in Soho Square. The garden will be open to the public and will contain chairs, hammocks, tables and a portable kitchen in which a chef will be undertaking cooking demonstrations. The north east quadrant of Soho Square gardens will be decorated with plants and garden accessories such as wooden barrels, shutters, gazebos. Details are listed below.
Wednesday 15th July 2015
Soho Square Gardens (north east quadrant)
Event live: 12:00 – 20:00hrs
Please see the document below for information on the latest works and progress being made at the Hanover Square ticket hall worksite.
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".