The Exhibition Panels

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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!

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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

 

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

Keep The Date Free

We are holding another exhibition on Monday 11th January 2016, at the Getty Gallery Eastcastle Street from 11.00am to 8.00pm, where our draft policies and priorities will be exhibited.  Keep the date free in your diary.  We’d like as many people as possible to come along and give us their views.

More information will be published here soon.

In The Green

This week I have been thinking about the environmental benefit of roof gardens and edible gardens in particular.  My thoughts have been driven by two very different events.  The first is that the West End Partnership have been adding flesh to the bones of their plans for London’s West End.  As a member of their Peoples Task Group, I needed to consider, among other topics, what their emerging greening strategies might mean for people who work here, live here or visit Fitzrovia.

And in another, completely unconnected event, my own rooftop garden features in this month’s Garden Magazine, the organ of the Royal Horticultural Society(RHS).  It is a special issue devoted to urban gardens.

runner beans and french beans making a bid for the heavens

My own rooftopvegplot. Open by appointment April – September

If you are not a member of the RHS then this might be a good time to join.  The organisation is slowly becoming a little more progressive and organic gardening, protection of wildlife and greening the urban realm are now all on their agenda.  People like me, who do not own acres of manicured evergreens somewhere in the Dukeries, are now welcomed.  I’m rather proud that a productive, urban, organic garden, the size of a postage stamp is featured within the hallowed pages.

The RHS is taking a number of excellent initiatives that the most progressive of urban gardeners and the most devoted of environmentalists would approve.  In this issue November 2015, the magazine is suggesting how we can find space and place to plant more.  Their ‘Greening Grey Britain’ initiative.

Front gardens make an amazing difference. But we don't have front gardens in the inner city!

Front gardens make an amazing difference. But we don’t have front gardens in the inner city!

The RHS are right on the button when they say that gardens play a crucial role in urban and suburban areas, and potentially will become even more important in the future as our climate changes. From helping protect us against flooding and extremes of temperature, to supporting wildlife and helping gardeners to be healthy, gardens can provide an amazing range of benefits.

https://www.rhs.org.uk/science/gardening-in-a-changing-world/Greening-Grey-Britain/urban-planting

The estimate is that 25% of the urban realm is open space, that might be transformed into a garden.  That could be a formal flower garden, a wild space, a flowering place for pollinators or an allotment.  Gardens can be at ground level, on balconies or on rooftops.  Temporary gardens can be found on building sites. So called guerrilla gardens can spring up anywhere.  We have our own guerrilla gardens in Great Titchfield Street, started by one of the flat dwellers in Collingwood House.  The idea has proved infectious, the space around trees in the street have been invaded by flowers right up as far as the restaurant Conchiglia and the Smile Clinic.  Well done to those businesses for taking up the initiative.  It’s a great pleasure to walk down that part of the street now. (Though I despair at the number of cigarette butts I see casually tossed into flower beds.)

Guerrilla Gardening in Great Titchfield Street

Guerrilla Gardening in Great Titchfield Street

My own contribution to greening the city is a rooftop vegetable plot, designed to be intensively productive all year round as well as beautiful.  It is organic, and full of flowering produce as well as leaves and roots.  I have bee hotels up there, a stick tower for insects and several bird feeders and nesting boxes. You can find the article in this month’s RHS magazine, or in the recently published book, ‘My Tiny Veg Plot’ by Lia Leendertz. Pavillion, Books 2015.  This lavishly illustrated book is an excellent resource for different urban/small space gardening techniques.

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As part of the FitzWest Neighbourhood Plan we will be looking at how we can improve the urban space.  That’s about reducing deliveries, traffic calming and improving space for pedestrians and cycles.  It’s about improving our rubbish collection system so that the streets are no longer strewn with take-away cartons and banana skins.  It’s about management of contractors and street diggers, so that builders rubble, skips and cranes don’t litter the streets, causing danger to pedestrians and blocking carriageways. And it’s also about finding more places for planting.

A survey of green space in FitzEast has already been completed for the Business Improvement District.  This is an issue that touches those who work or visit the area as much as it does residents.  We need something similar in FitzWest.

if you would like to join FitzWest please visit this page of the website:

http://fitzwest.org/wordpress/become-a-member/

And if you’d like to help with the survey of public space and greening of FitzWest email me, Wendy Shillam on info@fitzwest.org

WHAT FITZWEST CAN DO ABOUT PRESSURE FOR DEVELOPMENT?

Wendy Shillam, Chair of the Fitzrovia West (FitzWest) Neighbourhood Forum tells us how she feels the Neighbourhood Plan can help to control development in our area.

“Some residents I speak to are awestruck by the schemes which seem to receive preferment in our planning system. Why is it happening? We think that the Neighbourhood Plan can help resolve the problem, blocking poor development and raising the standard for developments that do go ahead.  In addition government policy will help funnel money from developments, to improve the area.”

 Why is there pressure for development?

It is government policy to encourage living in the city,especially where there’s good public transport. So Fitzrovia is  a target area for increasing development.  But the Neighbourhood Plan can help manage and control that development.  It can ensure that residents and local businesses don’t lose out because of its negative impact.  In fact the Neighbourhood Plan can help to ensure that development goes hand in hand with other important improvements for Fitzrovia.  

We all know that Fitzrovia is a great place to live and work.  We appreciate being part of a diverse community.  We enjoy the interesting cafes,  shops and offices – and businesses, along with their staff, like being here.    No wonder more developers are taking an interest in what used to be considered a rather sleepy backwater, albeit in the centre of town.

Crossrail and HS2

A great asset of the area is its transport connections.  In a few years’ time this will get even better.  Crossrail 1 is due to open in 2018, Crossrail 2 is already planned and the lines will cross at Tottenham Court Road, making it a major hub.  Some estimates suggest that 200 million people will travel on Crossrail annually.  Global Estate Agents like CBRE predict:

‘Tottenham Court Road, Charing Cross Road and New Oxford Street – and their immediate environs – will all be beneficially affected, repositioning many areas that have been borderline poor secondary or tertiary [commercial property] for years. Public realm improvements, combined with cutting-edge modern transit architecture, will give these areas a major boost, brushing aside decades of decay.’

In their website article on the subject, CBRE advise developers that the best opportunity sites will be immediately north and south of Oxford Street, i.e. in Fitzrovia and Soho.

High Speed 2 (HS2) will terminate at Euston and eventually run via Birmingham to Manchester and potentially further north.

Three new transport lines, just a few minutes’ walk from Fitzrovia, is the primary reason that we are getting unprecedented pressure for development in our area right now.

Crossrail-HS1-2-Map TFL

 Where should development occur?

The area around Tottenham Court Road, including the hinterland of the new Crossrail station is designated as an ‘opportunity area’ by the Greater London Authority (GLA).   Development  here is inevitable, and many sites like the sorting office at the bottom of Newman Street have already been given planning permission.  But the Opportunity Area represents only a fraction of the entire FitzWest Neighbourhood Area.

How the neighbourhood plan will work?

Our job will be to identify other potential sites within FitzWest and evaluate them for ourselves, weighing up the pros and cons, according to neighbourhood priorities.  How high should these new buildings go? What uses should they have?  How can we integrate affordable housing into such a high value area? How sustainable should development be?  As well as considering massing, form and function, we will be considering issues like parking, deliveries, waste and emissions from boilers and air-conditioning?

Consider the question of height.  There is no high buildings strategy for Fitzrovia, yet high building planning applications are commonplace these days.   

There are some parts of our area where high buildings are definitely out.Parts of FitzWest  happen to be in the line of sight between Primrose and Parliament Hills and the Palace of Westminster. That means that in some locations high buildings cannot be built because they would interrupt these important views.  In addition, within the East Marylebone Conservation Areas around Great Titchfield Street,  the traditional roofline is very consistent.  We plan to publish policies about high buildings suggesting where they are and are not appropriate.  We will take into account the overshadowing of existing residential blocks which, until now, the City Council have been unwilling to consider as important.

 View over the rootops looking south along Great Titchfield Street. The spires of All Saints and All Soul's are both visible.

The view of the rooftops looking south along Great Titchfield Street.  The spires of All Souls and All Saints Churches  are both visible, framing the view.

Community Infrastructure levy

Westminster’s own planning policies are unequivocal in demanding that development, where it is acceptable, should contribute to mitigation.  For example, when discussing impacts from transport changes the policies state that new station development should contribute to ‘the public realm’.  Mechanisms exist to ensure that the contribution is fair for each development, large or small.   Our Neighbourhood Plan  can help formulate those mechanisms.

From later this year, most new development will bring with it a payment to the GLA and the City Council which is called the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) .  The Authorities are duty bound to consult with the Neighbourhood Forum to establish a local agenda to agree how to expend this levy.  For example, CIL money could be spent on improved rubbish disposal systems, better green infrastructure, more cycle facilities and more electric vehicle charging points.

What Government says about neighbourhood planning

Once the Neighbourhood Plan is published it will go to a local referendum.  If, as we hope, this is agreed, we will be a much stronger community, with the authorities taking note of our wishes.   The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF),  a government policy document that sets out how neighbourhood planning will work, makes it very clear that:

‘Outside… strategic elements, neighbourhood plans will be able to shape

and direct sustainable development in their area. Once a neighbourhood plan

has demonstrated its general conformity with the strategic policies of the Local

Plan and is brought into force, the policies it contains take precedence over

existing non-strategic policies in the [Local Authority] Local Plan for that neighbourhood, where

they are in conflict. Local planning authorities should avoid duplicating

planning processes for non-strategic policies where a neighbourhood plan

is in preparation.’  NPPF Par 185

It is true that we can’t stop growth. We can’t go against national, London-wide or Westminster City strategic policy. But we can work with all of the policy makers, on behalf of the community, to make sure that growth is managed.  Well-mannered development can bring benefits to everyone who lives, works or visits our area.   The FitzWest Neighbourhood Plan aims to ensure that this will happen.

Wendy Shillam

FitzWest Neighbourhood Forum

Join us, help us draft the Neighbourhood Plan and ensure that your views are included.  Membership of the FitzWest Neighbourhood Forum is free and open to anyone who lives, works or runs a business/organisation within the area.  Go to http://fitzwest.org/wordpress/become-a-member/  to find out more.

We welcome comments on the website.  All our committee meetings are held in public.  Check the agenda page for more details.   We will also continue to hold regular public meetings and events throughout the plan making period.  We believe that everyone should have a say.

A shorter version of this article appears in The Fitzrovia News