The public consultation for the Eruv application has been extended with the hearing most likely in February. As detailed in our last Abbey Road Matters we urge local residents to ensure they understand what this is and to have their say http://idoxpa.westminster.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=O7N0RARPGR700 See below a map of the area covered by the Eruv.
Our next major campaign will be to fight for our local retailers as they face a threatened hike in business rates with the Rating Revaluation. Many people don't understand that the Local Authority merely serves as a collecting agent for Government for this tax and we are very concerned at current proposals. With the changing High Street landscape and the onslaught of on-line shopping, we remain passionately committed to fighting this corner to protect our vibrant High Street and indeed all the hard working local retailers who make Westminster so special and indeed successful. If your business is facing an unsustainable hike in Business Rates please let us know.
Cllr Peter Freeman met recently with local residents concerned by the proposals to redevelop the rear of the building at William Court. Following the formal consultation, the developers have now taken on board local opinions and will be representing a revised proposal to WCC's Planning Department, at which point Cllr Freeman will again meet with residents most likely in February.
Following the awaited publication of TfL's response to the public consultation on CS11 which is proposed to install a dedicated cycle lane from Swiss Cottage to Portland Place, including changes to Regents Park, you may find the detail here:
Mayor Khan has confirmed TfL's intention to press ahead with CS11 with building works commencing in Autumn 2017. Whilst we fully support improved safety and infrastructure for our cyclists and understand the need to invest in our city to improve air quality and achieve a 'modal shift' to cycling, we remain very concerned that the removal of arterial road space is not the way to do it, especially with all the major redevelopments planned for the Finchley Road area including HS2 in the coming years.
After many months of intensive lobbying and working with local stakeholders to find a constructive alternative route that protects cyclists but prevents rat-running, displaced traffic and worsened pollution in our Conservation Area, we are disappointed that TfL have decided to press ahead with the scheme, notwithstanding some of the concessions they have agreed to. The threatened closure of Regents Park gates at peak times is still to be decided upon, though we welcome the proposed speed controls most specifically for the safety of pedestrians.
We will continue to fight hard for the majority of local people who did not support CS11, most especially for the 4,500 who signed local petitions but who were excluded in the formal consultation statistics. This 'heat map' (below) shows where the objections came from and we maintain that opinions from outer London zones such as Kingston or Dagenham should not have been included.
We will also be calling on Westminster City Council to formally assess the impact on all existing Cycle Superhighways on traffic and air quality elsewhere in the City before more schemes are implemented.
It is never easy to please all the people all the time, but when thousands of local people ask us to step in to fight for their iconic and popular local pubs, it is incumbent upon us to do what we can. Several years ago Cllr Lindsey Hall presented two petitions to Westminster City Council in protest against the closure and redevelopment of The Clifton in Clifton Hill and The Star in St John's Wood Terrace.
Working closely with the St John's Wood Society and utilising our Government's new legislation to protect "Assets of Community Value", we were able to persuade the owner of The Clifton to see what he might do instead of his proposed residential basement development to reinstate the pub. Roll forward to 2017 and months of detailed negotiations with our Planning and Licensing Departments, we are delighted to welcome the new proprietors to what will be a very carefully managed and special gastro-pub and look forward to the formal re-opening soon! We are very grateful to the immediate neighbours of The Clifton who have had mixed feelings about the re-opening of the pub, but wish to re-assure them of our commitment to ensure a professionally managed pub can and will work well in our local community.
The future of The Star is less certain; having achieved "ACV" status Cllr Lindsey Hall - again supported by the SJW Society - made representations at a lengthy hearing with the Planning Inspector who found in our favour. We are delighted to report that the developer is now looking to bring forward a development that reopens the pub at ground and basement levels, with private flats above. We will continue to do all we can to help achieve this; as there will be very many happy locals!
Many residents will already be aware that a planning application has been submitted to Westminster City Council (WCC) for the creation of a North Westminster Eruv which effectively is the construction of a boundary made up of 26 sets of poles and wires on the public highway to enable Orthodox Jews to travel freely in this designated area on the Sabbath. Whilst there are no actual poles proposed for the Abbey Road Ward, the proposal will enclose St John's Wood and part of Maida Vale enabling freer movement for those attending our Abbey Road Synagogues.
Your Ward Councillors would encourage you to make a comment on this application which will go before the Planning Sub-Committee in November. The consultation period has been extended to the end of October, but it would be helpful for our planning team to collate feedback as soon as possible. The link is http://idoxpa.westminster.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=O7N0RARPGR700. See above a map of the area covered by the Eruv.
Abbey Road Ward Councillor Lindsey Hall joined protesters at the Anti-CS11 march at Swiss Cottage recently following the Major of London's announcement in August of his intention to push ahead with the CS-11 cycle superhighway through St John's Wood including the closure of most of the gates to traffic in Regents Park saying "CS-11 will play an important role improving the quality of our toxic air, improving Londoners' health and make thousands more people feel comfortable cycling."
Whilst we support efforts to improve the safety of cycling and wish to encourage a greener city, we do not believe the proposals as they currently stand will achieve this, particularly as they do not take into account localised pressures of traffic on the Finchley Road with major developments such as the Barracks and confirmation that HS2 will now go ahead.
At a packed local meeting we secured a powerful mandate from our residents to explore constructive alternative safer routes for our cyclists that will ensure Regents Park remains open for ALL to share and that our local streets will be protected from worse congestion, rat runs and pollution. To that end we are working closely with local stakeholders and Cabinet Members to lobby Mayor Kahn and ensure that alternative proposals are properly considered and that TfL does not ride roughshod over the 4,500 local people who signed the Anti-CS11 Petition delivered by Cllr Lindsey Hall to City Hall last spring.
We are also calling on TfL to properly assess the impact of other Cycle Superhighways such as the Embankment and in Hyde Park before imposing more schemes in other parts of the City particularly in light of the extra pollution caused by gridlocked traffic. We believe the key to safer cycling and improved air quality is the better utilisation of 'quiet-ways' rather than the expensive reduction of arterial road space. A decision will be made later this year.
We have been lobbied by many residents in the vicinity of William Court following an application to redevelop part of the grounds. This it at the early stages of assessment by our planning department and we are working closely with all parties to ensure every response is fairly considered in preparation for the Planning Sub-Committee hearing, most likely towards the end of December.
Your Ward Councillors are keeping a close eye on the difficulties surrounding the expiry of the Post Office lease on Circus Road and the complex renegotiation's for a new lease. In spite of Westminster's offer to the Post Office to remain in the unit on their existing rent and terms (below market value), this was declined. A counter offer from the Post Office for a further reduction of 12% is likely to be resisted because it does not represent best value for taxpayers especially as the proposal allows the Post Office to sub-let, with the risk that not only would the Council be losing money on the property (against its legal obligations) there would be no guarantee it would even remain as a Post Office.
We continue to work hard with the WCC Property Management Team and with our Cabinet Members to try to secure the best possible outcome in the hope we may be able to keep our Post Office for the community, but hope residents can see why it is not straightforward and ultimately remains a commercial, independent decision by the Post Office.
With the start of this major redevelopment postponed to next Spring, we can confirm that Ward Councillors led by Cllr Peter Freeman continue to drive hard for the best possible solution to the problems of demolition and removal of spoil. Working closely with the developers, local stakeholders and our planning and transportation department at City Hall, we believe we have found an alternative route to access the site from Finchley Road that will avoid Queens Grove and reduce any temporary loss of residential parking. We will report back as soon as details are confirmed.
We are also thrilled to learn from the developers that our suggestion of a £100,000 Section 106 donation to our highly valued St John's Wood Adventure Playground has now been agreed, meaning that the future of this wonderful local community resource can now be assured. We have supported the Playground with our Ward Budget considerably this year but were always concerned about long-term viability; so this announcement is great news.
Your Abbey Road Ward Conservative Councillors represent you on Westminster Council.
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