Oxford Street Pedestrianisation Threatens Pollution in Fitzrovia

Today newspapers are reporting a concerning development in the long running saga of the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street.  Up till now FitzWest had been assured that there would be no pedestrianisation between Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Circus because there were no suitable routes for buses and taxis through our area.

However Valerie Shawcross, London’s deputy mayor for transport, has now announced to the London Assembly that the plan is to ban all vehicles from Tottenham Court Road to beyond Selfridges and the entrance to Bond Street tube station.  There is no indication of how this is to be achieved.

In response to this announcement I have written to Val Shawcross as follows:

Dear Val,

 PEDESTRIANISATION OF OXFORD STREET

I represent Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Forum.  Our forum is a 200 strong group that represents both residents and businesses in Fitzrovia.  We are united in order to create a neighbourhood plan for the area. 

One crucial aspect of our plan, triggered by strong public support, is to improve the streets where we live and work.  There is no public green space in our area, little sitting out space and hardly any pedestrian streets.  We suffer from some of the worst pollution of any residential area in Europe.

We are in the middle of writing policies that will go public this autumn.  So far public consultation has strongly prioritised the greening of streets, the reduction and calming of traffic and the improvement of arrangements for pedestrians.

In particular we wish to enhance the Great Titchfield Street/Mortimer Street hub of our area.  This has become a dynamic focus for local and specialist shops, small businesses and provides the area’s vitality.  But it is already stymied by the fact that Mortimer Street is a by-pass street for Oxford Street.

There are over 4000 people living in very dense flats in this area.  Our population is not dominated by West End Wealthy, but by ordinary people, many of whom have lived in the area for years, whose children attend the local schools and who work in local businesses.  Many people live in social housing, or housing for the elderly.  They cannot choose to move out of the area if it becomes even more devastated by traffic.

This week’s announcement that pedestrianisation in Oxford Street shall go ahead leads us to fear the implications for our area, especially Mortimer Street and Newman Street.  While the Crossrail project has gone ahead we have had several long term bus diversions through our area, along Mortimer and Newman Street.  This has resulted in lines of jammed buses belching out exhaust.  I enclose a photograph of Newman Street, taken during one of those diversions, to indicate how unpleasant those short term diversions were. 

150409 Newman Street
Taken 12.22 09.04.2015

If the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street results in a permanent diversion of taxis and bus routes along these streets it would be devastating for the area. 

We support a reduction of traffic in Oxford Street, and have no objection to pedestrianisation per se.  In fact, we too wish to look at traffic calming schemes to support improvements to Great Titchfield Street and Mortimer Street, which is the social and economic hub of our area. 

Unfortunately it is not just Oxford Street that subjects the population of Fitzrovia to life threatening pollution.  The diagram below (taken from the Kings College Model commissioned, as I understand it, by GLA) identifies Mortimer Street and New Cavendish Street as highly polluted as well.  This pollution is exacerbated in the centre of London because of the urban heat island effect, which can trap a bubble of polluted air, stopping it dissipating, as it might do in greener parts of the capital.  I am sure that enlightened traffic engineers in the GLA have already considered these limitations and are proposing alternatives.  For example a bus hub at Tottenham Court Road and a further hub at Hyde Park Corner would be well supported by our community.

Poster 7

We are especially concerned that All Souls’ Primary School,  our excellent local primary school,  lies only yards from the Mortimer Street/Newman Street junction.  The prospect of diverting transport onto a minor road and increasing pollution levels so close to an area where children are taught, is not worthy of the new GLA administration.

The FitzWest Neighbourhood Forum is doing all it can to improve the environment for our inner city residents, existing businesses and the hundreds of thousands of new visitors that will be attracted by Crossrail 1, Crossrail 2 and HS2 which also arrives at our doorstep.  We seek help from the GLA to achieve that result, not hindrance.

Please, can I have your assurance that no scheme will be approved which diverts public transport and taxis through the streets within our area? 

Yours sincerely

Wendy Shillam

Chairman Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Area Forum Executive

CC

Caroline Pidgeon Chair London Assembly Transport Committee

Tim Steer Head of Transport

Cllr Robert Davis MBE Deputy Leader Westminster CC

Jace Tyrrell, Chief Executive New West End Company

Paul Dimoldenberg Leader Westminster CC Labour Group

I have also sent copies to our Ward Councillors.

Please add your comments below.

CHANGES TO MIXED USE POLICIES

We’ve mad a comment regarding Westminster’s proposal to change mixed use policies in the city plan.

Our general concern is the proposed relaxation of the requirement to provide an increase of residential use as part of larger commercial developments in the Core CAZ and Opportunity Areas such as Tottenham Court Road. The West End and central parts of the City are characterised by a mix of commercial and residential uses adding variety, interest and enhancing interaction between different sized businesses and residents. The proposed change in wording will lead to more large scale, single use, ‘iconic’ developments which, although highly profitable, add very little and often detract from the quality of the built form in the City as a whole, or indeed in areas such as Fitzrovia.

 For the full text go to: EXTERNAL CONSULTATION

 Please add your comments if you agree or disagree with our response.

It’s not rubbish; it’s serious.

04.12.14 (2)

The forum receives more complaints about rubbish than almost any other topic.  In response to this we have set up a sub-group to focus of the problems of rubbish disposal, dumping and collections in our area.

We’ve devised a questionnaire and we would be very grateful if you could fill it in for us, giving us your views.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/190rmWoVZjnJ-8IuVYafRcta49kBJ-22QpS7v99ycEWE/viewform

If you have any further comments please feel free to add them in the comments box below, or if you are reading this on our home page use the quotation icon at the head of this article.

Thank you.

Delivering the Green Oasis

market place

Market Place could be a much greener oasis than it is today. Do we really need this wide delivery bay?

Now that our public consultation exercise is coming to an end we are delighted to report that we are in a position to start delivering one of the most popular aspects of our proposals ahead of time. Many of you supported the idea of greening small oases that would bring some welcome calm to our busy city as well as provide opportunity for pollution busting planting and locations for wildlife to flourish.  In fact new green oases in the streetscape received the most votes when we asked what community Infrastructure money should be spent on.

Fitzrovia is one of the least green areas in Central London.  The only public blade of grass in FitzWest is the new development at Pearson Square.  That pocket handkerchief, delightful though it is, cannot hope to serve all our needs.  It is our intention to recommend to Westminster City Council that more spaces like this are built as part of developments.  But what about the concrete jungle we already inhabit?

Regents Park Hotel

Consider places like this above. It is the pavement on Great Titchfield Street, right outside the Regent’s Park Hilton.  It’s the view that people living in the sheltered housing across the street view daily.  Now we have some hope of doing something about such spaces (where development might not happen for years)

FitzWest Neighbourhood Forum is delighted to announce that we have been selected as one of the areas to receive Tesco’s BagsofHelp funding.

Tesco has teamed up with Groundwork to launch its Bags of Help initiative in hundreds of regions across England and Wales. FitzWest applied for a grant and we are the lucky recipients of a regional award.  How large the funding is will depend on votes cast in our local Tesco.

The scheme will see three community groups and projects in each of these regions awarded grants of £12,000, £10,000 and £8,000 – all raised from the 5p bag charge.  The public will now vote in store from 27 February until 6 March on who should receive the £12,000, £10,000 and £8,000 awards. To learn more about the initiative please look at www.tesco.com/bagsofhelp

Bags_For_Help

Making it easier for you to comment

credit dmitry 9

Credit Dmitry just.photo.lab@gmail.com

We’ve had a few complaints that the web version of our consultation is not as easy to follow as the exhibition itself.  So we re-arranged the pages for you and hopefully, made it easier to follow and to comment.  Click here to go to the exhibition pages

We had an amazing response at the exhibition, but we still need your comments if you didn’t have a chance to go. You can download the questionnaire and send it to us, or you can browse through the panels leaving, your thoughts on each page on the website.

Thank you for taking the time to comment.  We hope to be able to show you very soon that we have listened and are responding to your ideas.

You can also email us at info@fitzwest.org

The Exhibition Panels

cropped-cover-crop.jpg

Copyright FitzWest Map drawn by Lydia Bevan hand-drawnmaps.co.uk

Thank you to everyone who came to the exhibition.  It was a great success and we were particularly pleased to see so many new faces.  Go to the exhibition pages to see the panels and download a questionnaire in order to have your say.  The consultation ends 16th February 2016.

We will shortly also publish a copy of the questionnaire about rubbish collection which was also available at the exhibition.

If you’d like to leave a quick message please use the comments at the base of this page.

It’s a New Year and A New Fitzrovia

Happy New Year!

cover crop

Map drawn by Lydia Bevan Hand Drawn Maps

Dear members and Friends of the Neighbourhood Forum,

As a New Year dawns, I thought I’d remind you all of the exhibition that we’ll be holding on 11th January.  We are very grateful to the Getty Image Gallery, 46 Eastcastle Street for hosting us.

It will be open between 11.00am and 8.00pm.  As well as exhibiting ideas and proposals, we will be unveiling the hand drawn map of the area by artist Lydia Bevan. (Detail above)  Everyone who comes along will be able to take away with them a copy of the map, showing many of our houses, offices and landmarks.

Our vision is a vibrant, prosperous, creative and connected neighbourhood; where people from all sectors and communities enjoy wellbeing; where we can work collaboratively to ensure that our living and working needs are met.

If you value Fitzrovia as much as we do and if you live, run a business or work here, we welcome you to come along to the exhibition and help to shape the neighbourhood plan for the future.

As well as inviting Forum members, and anyone in the community, we are hoping to draw those people who might have other types of interests in the area – the press, politicians, developers and landowners.  If you know anyone who you think we should add to the invitation list email info@fitzwest.org

Tea,coffee and biscuits served all day.

We look forward to seeing as many people as possible at the exhibition,

Wendy Shillam
Chairman of the Executive

 

Happy Christmas from Georgina Davies (and Cllr Paul Church)

151218 All Souls Christmas Card Georgina Davies Paul Church

Congratulations to Georgina Davies, aged  nine years, from All Souls C of E Primary School in FitzWest for her stunning Christmas card design.  And thanks to Councillor Paul Church for sponsoring such an excellent competition and turning the winning design into a stunning greeting card.

I can’t help but observe that here is more proof that Fitzrovia is definitely the most creative part of the West End. Georgina’s work illustrates this perfectly.  She has portrayed a London Christmas, as it is; a decorated city with tower blocks, welcoming lit windows and garlanded front doors. What a good idea to put a Father Christmas hat onto top of the Swiss Re tower!

Christmas Cards

151213 Christmas Card from councillor Roe

We have received a Christmas Card from Westminster City Council, signed by the leader Councillor Philippa Roe.  As we have nowhere to display it, it will have to remain on my mantelpiece, but I thought that it would be worth circulating the very pretty picture of ice skating in Hyde Park.

Complements of the season to all our readers!

The FitzWest Exhibition

On Monday 11th January 2016

Getty Image Gallery

46 Eastcastle Street, London, W1W 8DX

Between 11.00am and 8.00pm

We look forward to seeing everyone at the exhibition which will;

  1. Introduce newbies to the Neighbourhood Plan Process
  2. Outline what has happened so far
  3. Present the findings of our consultations, in particular the issues you told us were important
  4. Present the solutions and policies that might provide options for dealing with the important issues
  5. Seek your views and ideas
  6. Present a road map of what happens next

In addition we shall be holding a briefing for  press, politicians, landowners, business  and developers who have an interest in the area.  If you know someone who you feel should be invited to the briefing please send us their details via our email info@fitzwest.org

We are grateful to the management of the Getty Image Gallery for their support.

Those who attend will be able to pick up a free three D map of the area drawn especially for us by the artist Lydia Bevan.

© Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Forum Committee

© Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Forum Map Drawn by Lydia Bevan Hand Drawn Maps