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
email@example.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.
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:
- 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.
- We wish to see all pavements in the area re-paved with York stone which is the traditional material.
- 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
I agree that York stone should be used and the other observations. However, I would also like to see some of the existing granite kerb stones re-used as most of them are in good condition. There are a variety of different coloured stones used (see https://flic.kr/p/Qp5TdT and https://flic.kr/p/Qzpptv ). These, in my view, are more attractive than the replacement white or grey granite that WCC uses.
Also some of the kerb stones have unusual markings possible made at the quarry by the stone masons as can be seen in these pictures: https://flic.kr/p/Q1swyu and https://flic.kr/p/QzptLi
Keeping some of these stones would reflect the variety of architectural styles and heritage along the street and be a good way of re-using existing materials. An example of this can be seen in front of the Boulting building at 61 Riding House Street where at the request of local residents many of the existing stones were re-used.