Market Place Greening Project

New West End Company (NWEC) presented their ideas at the last Forum meeting for a much needed green space in the neighbourhood around Market Place.

We agreed to be involved  with the consultation and planning and  welcomed this proposal.

You can see NWEC’s presentation in detail here:

Market Place Greening Project Powerpoint Presentation

Great Portland Street Improvements

We recently received this letter from Westminster City Council:

Great Portland Street Public Realm Improvements Westminster City Council, in partnership with The Crown Estate, is proposing public realm improvements on the western side of Great Portland Street between Riding House Street and Mortimer Street. The improvements are indicated on the enclosed drawing and include the following:

  • Repaving the footway with new artificial stone paving footway and installing new granite kerbs, and
  • Removing the level difference between the footway and the basement roof slabs.

The works are programmed to commence in February 2017. If your property has a vault/basement that extends beneath the footway and possibly the carriageway, the works being undertaken may cause water ingress or dampness to appear when the ground is disturbed if the vault/basement has not been properly protected by tanking or other damp proofing. The City Council is not required (nor can it) undertake to maintain the surface of the public highway in a watertight condition. This is in accordance with Section 180 Sub-Section 6 of the Highways Act 1980. The basement/vault to your property is a separate structure from the public highway and keeping it in a watertight condition is the responsibility of the owner or freeholder. If you are the occupier but not the owner of the property, you should make the owner aware of this notice.

Contact: Tel: E-mail:

Ref: Date: Ryan Reardon 020 7394 3020

ryan.reardon@wspgroup.com 0001-70027737-S6-1 09 December 2016

FM Conway Limited is working on behalf of Westminster City Council on this scheme and would be pleased to receive any comments you have regarding the proposals by 23rd December 2016.

Your views are important and will be reported to Westminster City Council officers for their review and consideration before a decision on the proposals is made.

Yours sincerely,

Ryan Reardon

great-portland-street-public-realm-improvements-consultation-plan

Click o the link above to view a plan.

We have replied as follows:

Dear Mr Reardon,

Thank you for consulting us.  We have placed the information on our website and look forward to further responses from our members. Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Forum is currently writing its policies at the moment.  These will be published early in the new year.  However, we can confirm that the community – both residents and businesses wishes to see more public realm improvements and so in general we welcome this initiative.  We do however have a few observations:

  1. The removal of a kerb cross-over, thus limiting wheelchair access in this area even more is regretted.  We recommend that you re-consider this regressive action.
  2. We wish to see all pavements in the area re-paved with York stone which is the traditional material.
  3. It is a shame that works like this are simply replacement works, when it is clear that Great Portland Street needs a holistic design approach along its entire length.  This re-design should, in our view include improvements for pedestrians access, crossings and disabled accessibility.  It is not clear whether this pavement work will make crossovers at shop thresholds better?

With kind regards

Wendy Shillam  Chair FitzWest Neighbourhood Forum

It’s not rubbish; it’s serious.

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.

In The Green

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.

20151102

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:

https://fitzwest.org/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

Cycle Quietways – Too little? Too Late?

Cycle Quietways – Too little? Too Late?

Plan

Westminster Consultation on Cycling QuietWay from Edgeware Road to Fitzrovia

The Greater London Authority has developed a cycling strategy, which involved super highways and quiet routes which criss-cross the city.  In Westminster several of these proposed routes run through FitzWest.  The Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Forum welcomes the attempt to link up the city and to devise routes where less experienced cyclists might feel more comfortable.

The proposals are modest.  They include a cycle waiting area at the head of junction stop lines on major roads and a small cycle priority path leading up to the junction.  The proposals do not designate an area of the carriageway for cycles, do not provide cycle only phases to traffic lights and do not attempt to calm or restrict traffic in any way.  There is a modest section of cycle contra-flow adjacent to Holcroft Court.

We dont believe that cycle quiet routes can be achieved without closing roads to vehicular traffic or (at the very least) reducing access, type and speed of traffic on the proposed cycling quiet routes.

In principle we believe that cyclists and pedestrians should have priority over vehicles on all but the most major thoroughfares, throughout the West End.  Many people live and work here.  We agree with the GLA that the best method of transport for many of those people is walking and cycling.  But we also see that a plateau of cycle road users will be reached unless cars and other vehicles are not also restricted in their use of side streets. This could be achieved with quiet zones, speed limits, traffic calming and cycle/pedestrian priority areas.

A Dutch Quiet routes

In Fitzrovia the narrowness of the streets, the quantity of on-street parking and the volume of deliveries, all mitigate against a successful cycling system.  We believe that quiet routes should be introduced, but we don’t feel that the measures taken, which are minimal, will make a lot of difference.  Vehicles, deliveries and parking must be better managed on these roads in order for them to be useful for novice cyclists.

In addition the measures taken to allow cycles to cross major road junctions seem flimsy.  Putting a priority waiting space in front of traffic is a useful measure, but it is not enough.  Cycle priority lights would be one solution, where cycles have their own green phase – perhaps linking with better pedestrian crossing facilities.

We enclose some images of quiet routes from Dutch and Danish cities to illustrate the difference between Westminster’s proposal and more enlightened cities.

We will be commenting formally to Westminster CC soon.  Please leave your views here and we will take account of them in our response.

Thank you.

Cycle priority routes in Copenhagen

Read the full details