Abbey Road Matters December 2016

Cycle Superhighway (CS11) update

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. 

Local business rates campaign

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.

William Court planning proposals

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.

Local pubs campaign

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!

Eruv Application

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.

9,000 and Growing as Westminster Plants More Trees

The number of trees planted by Conservative-run Westminster Council is up by more than a third in a decade, helping to make our city greener every year.
Over the last three years an annual average of 200 extra trees have been planted, going well beyond just replacing the 40 or so which die or have to be taken down for safety reasons. Councillor Heather Acton, Cabinet Member for Sustainability and Parking said: “Westminster Conservatives know that trees are vital to our city and help contribute to the physical and mental health of our residents and visitors. As well as this, they help to reduce on-street flooding.”

Under London’s previous Conservative Mayor, Boris Johnson, Westminster received assistance with its tree planting programme. Labour Mayor, Sadiq Khan, by contrast, does not plan to keep his promise to plant 2 million trees by 2020, having reduced the commitment to a 5% increase by 2025.

Trees on urban streets provide shade in hot weather and contribute to better air quality. They improve the beauty and liveability of our neighbourhoods. Research shows people prefer to live in areas with more trees and greenery and are prepared to pay more to do so.

Westminster now has 9,000 trees on its streets, from the magnificent planes of The Mall to smaller fruit trees and dogwoods in residential areas and the Council continues to plant more.  

Westminster Council Wins Award for Animal Welfare

For the fourth year running Westminster has won the Gold Stray Dog Footprint Award from the Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).

This award recognises councils for professionalism and excellence in providing good customer service that enhances animal welfare. The council also received a bronze award for its work promoting responsible pet ownership on its estates.

Councillor Jacqui Wilkinson, Westminster City Council's Animal Welfare Champion, said: "The awards are well-deserved. I am delighted that the work of our dedicated animal wardens has been recognised by the RSPCA.

“Westminster City Council is committed to promoting responsible pet ownership and works closely with local and national animal charities. We are currently arranging free microchipping events which I know will prove popular with our residents. It’s all a part of our efforts to create a greener and safer city for all.”

Animal wardens regularly deal with stray or lost dogs, complaints about other people's dogs, barking, fouling and other nuisances in Westminster. To contact them, go to www.westminster.gov.uk/animal-warden-service. The service is open Monday to Friday from 8 am to 5pm. Animal cruelty should be reported to the RSPCA.

Nine Million Investment in Westminster’s Sports Centres Underway

Westminster’s sports centres are benefitting from a £9 million investment thanks to an innovative contract. The Queen Mother Sports Centre in Pimlico will receive £1.6 million to refurbish the spa, add a new yoga studio in addition to the recently refurbished changing rooms already delivered. Funds will also go towards a new entrance and a refurbished state-of-the-art gym, with work starting in December.

Cllr David Harvey, Cabinet Member for Sports and Leisure, said: “Investing in the future of sport and leisure centres across Westminster will help to more people to keep healthy and active. More people than ever before are taking part in physical activity and it’s vital we offer the facilities and opportunities they need.”

Money will also go towards improvements at Marshall Street Leisure Centre and the Porchester Centre. Little Venice Sports Centre on Edgware Road and Jubilee Sports Centre in Queen’s Park have already reopened their new gyms following refurbishment earlier in the year.

A consultation on a plan for the upper Vauxhall Bridge Road area, which includes the Queen Mother Sport’s Centre, is currently taking place. This work aims to ensure that future developments in the area involve local people and are in keeping with the character of the area.

Councillor David Harvey said: “Despite what the Labour Party have been trying to insinuate, we are committed to retaining and improving the much loved and popular Queen Mother Sports Centre, which will remain at the heart of the area and any future developments.”