Bryanston and Dorset Square Matters November2016

New £££ Penalties for Improper Waste Disposal

BDS Councillors welcome the new amendment to the Environmental Protection Act 1990 that allows Local Authorities to issue Fixed Penalty Notices for fly-tipping and rubbish-dumping. Under the new charging-structure, valid from 7th November, the Council can issue Fixed Penalty Charges of between £150 and £400 for ‘small scale’ offences.
 
We hope that these new powers will improve compliance among our residents and businesses, and push back the tide of dumped rubbish that is spreading through our streets. Please see the kerb-side notices throughout the Ward, stating the days and times for regular refuse-collections. Our City Inspectors will be working to educate residents, and will issue fines where necessary. Enforcement measures will be focused on those who act irresponsibly, or who persistently offend. These new fines will act as a warning for those who do not dispose of their waste responsibly, or continue to fly-tip and dump. 
 
For household waste, the new policy will mean a £200 fine for a first offence, rising to £400 for a second offence, followed by prosecution. For trade or business waste, there will be a £400 fine, followed by prosecution for subsequent offences. Warnings, valid for a year, will be issued to those who do not put household-waste in appropriate containers and at specified times

To reflect these changes in law the Council's waste-enforcement policy has been reviewed and is now available on the Council’s website:www.westminster.gov.uk/recyclingandrubbish

Pub Closures: The Facts

Your Councillors continue to be concerned about pub closures in our Ward, owing to the difference between a pub’s rental value and a property’s potential real-estate value. 

What can Westminster do?  The City Council’s powers are frustratingly limited.  There’s no authority to prevent a pub’s ceasing to trade: – that’s a matter for the owner.   A pub cannot be converted into flats without a grant of Planning Permission from the City Council: – that’s a Change of Use.  (N.B. There are no such applications in the Ward at present.) A pub can convert to a restaurant without permission: – that’s ‘Permitted Development’, set out in national legislation.

What can residents do?  A community-group of residents can apply to the City Council to have a pub declared an Asset of Community Value (ACV). If a pub is declared an ACV, the owner/developer is delayed from being able to convert the pub to any other use, while the local community to looks to purchase the pub or find a new landlord. Read more at www.westminster.gov.uk/community-right-bid

Meanwhile, there is one more shot in the Council’s locker: an Article Four Direction, which would oblige all pub-owners to apply for Planning Permission to convert a pub to any other use. The Customer Services Scrutiny Committee took expert advice on this on 14 September, and officers are currently studying whether, how widely, and when an Article Four Direction might be made. 

Councillor Beddoe commented, ‘Pubs are part of the unique character of Marylebone. We are committed to doing all we can to save them, and that includes dropping in for a pint at the local from time to time.’

Your Help, Please! Where Can we Plant More Trees in our Ward?

Have you noticed the new trees along York Street? Did you smile this summer, soothed by the scent of linden-blossom on the corner with Seymour Place? Finding suitable sites for tree-planting can be a challenge, and this is where we’d like your help, please.

Evident obstacles are the service-pipes and cables that often run along our kerbs, and vaults that extend out below the footway. Sometimes, there simply isn’t enough soil. None of these complications is insurmountable, though.

In Transept Street, we have planted trees in concrete rings that go down from the footway to the bottom of the vault. Clearly there was quite a bit of engineering involved, to install the concrete rings and to ensure the structural integrity of the footway, so it’s by no means straightforward, and structural-engineering advice is needed to assess the viability of such schemes. Nevertheless, we are keen to plant more trees wherever we can. 

At a recent meeting, Councillor Alexander learned that the Westminster Tree Trust (WTT), which works with Westminster City Council’s Tree Planning Officers, has ‘seed funding’ for more trees in our Ward.

The WTT, with match-funding from several sources, has already planted 750 trees across Marylebone and Fitzrovia. Straightforward plantings generally cost about £500 each, allowing for investigation and preparation of the site. Complicated installations are more expensive, of course. If you and your neighbours see an opportunity to plant more trees near you, please get in touch, and we’ll see what we can do.