Archive for April 2011

BBC - Portland Place Redevelopment Update

The redevelopment is nearing its completion and details of the latest aspects of the work being undertaken is in the attached Newsletter.

BH newsletter 23 -

Walkers Court

An application for the refurbishment and redevelopment of Walkers Court is being made by the owners, Soho Estates Limited, to the Council.

Walkers Court forms an important link between Brewer Street and Peter Street and into Berwick Street.

As the plans for Berwick Street develop the opportunity of providing a longer link between Oxford Street in the north and Piccadilly Circus in the south, via Berwick Street, Walkers Court and Rupert Street can be explored to provide an attractive and pedestrian friendly route through the heart of Soho.

Currently, Walkers Court is characterised by its narrow aspect, dark pavements and preponderance of sex shops.

The proposal includes the covering over of the gap between the buildings to provide a more protected environment by the use of cantilevered structures. The proposal also anticipates a reworking of the floor surfaces to provide lighter and a more welcoming aspect with lighting at ground level. More importantly the proposal anticipates that the sex shops will be replaced with restaurants and other retail usages, thereby changing entirely the character and use of Walkers Court.

In addition the developer proposes to redevelop the properties on either side to make them more affective for modern usage.

One, possibly controversial, aspect of the proposal is to replace the old Raymond’s Revuebar neon sign which was on the Brewer Street frontage (on the right hand side) with a more modern LED advertisement panel which could vary the images portrayed upon it. The sign itself had become part of the iconic aspect of although it has been disused for many years.

Attached is a copy of the developer’s proposals so that those affected can review them in detail. This is currently out to public consultation and, as ever, I would urge you to make your views felt to the planners so that they can be taken into account as part of the process of consideration of this application.

Walkers Court Plans -

Vote NOtoAV

AV is an unfair system, where the person who finishes third can end up winning. The video below looks at what would happen if a school sports day was run under AV and highlights why you need to vote 'No' on May 5th.

Bond Street Station Upgrade - Update

Please see the letter below which gives details of planned works for the Bond Street Station upgrade throughout April 2011.

Bond Street Upgrade -

NOtoAV Campaign

On 5 May, there will be a UK Referendum on whether to change our voting system to the alternative vote. I for one will be voting No to AV.

It is not possible to analyse all the reasons that have led me to this position here. However, I want to draw attention to one particular side of the argument against the alternative vote that has a particular resonance for the West End.

West End is the home to London’s main gay village around Old Compton Street in Soho. There are many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual residents here and dozens of businesses that thrive on the ‘pink pound’.

If AV prevails the door will be opened to parties whose views include intolerance to communities such as that which exist in the heart of the West End.

This is because AV undermines the fundamental principle of One Person, One Vote, and rewards people who vote for fringe candidates by making them the first to get another vote counted.

In some seats, BNP supporters could get at least six chances to have their vote counted, while mainstream voters would only get their vote counted once. Because the other parties would need extra votes in later rounds of counting, they would have an incentive to pander to the extremists to try and win their second preferences.

My greatest concern is that if AV prevails it would allow extremist political parties such as the BNP to get a foothold in mainstream national politics.  While we hope that AV would not lead to extremist parties winning seats, it would certainly give them more influence.

I will not support a voting system that will benefit parties who want to create a climate of hatred and fear in this community.

One vote is enough for everyone – that is the foundation stone of our tried and tested democracy. This is why I will be joining thousands of activists across the country this weekend in a national NOtoAV action day by campaigning in Soho to make sure this wonderful, fun-loving and decent community is aware of what is at stake.

West No to AV Final 3 -

Crossrail - Davies Street Update

A further update from Crossrail which may affect if you if you live in or use Davies Street or Gilbert Street.


Sir Simon Milton

It is with great sadness that I report the death of Sir Simon Milton, first Deputy Mayor of London and former Leader of Westminster City Council.

Simon dedicated his life to public service and was a highly successful and respected Leader of Westminster Council.  He was also Chairman of the Local Government Association and, as Deputy to Boris Johnson provided the strategic thinking and support to shape his administration.  His particular expertise in planning and administrative matters were complimentary to Boris’s skills.

In spite of issues with his health, having recovered from leukaemia leaving him with reduced lung capacity, he devoted his energies to his work and was a stalwart of functions in Westminster and throughout London.

He and his partner Robert were always great company and good friends.  Our Sympathy and condolences go to Robert and to Simon’s family on their loss.

London and Westminster will be the poorer for Simon’s passing and the untimely loss of such a special and unique man.

Mayfair - Oxford Street - Park House Redevelopment

Major progress can be seen on the re-construction of Park House. The structure now stands at level 4 with levels 5 and 6 in working progress. Please see the April 2011 Newsletter which provides detailed information on the works that have taken place over the last month.


Crossrail - Davies Street - Works Update

Over the next 15 weeks working hours on Saturdays will be increased on Davies Street in order to complete demolition works of 65 Davies Street. This will be of concern to businesses and residents particularly in the longer summer evenings.

For further updates on Crossrail at Bond Street please follow this link.


Soho - Berwick Street Market

It appears that progress may now at last be being made in relation to the upgrade of Berwick Street. Westminster City Council has instructed Lambert Smith Hampton to dispose of a long leasehold interest in the shops forming part of Kemp House. By doing so they hope to achieve, working in partnership with a commercial operator, an upgrade both to the existing shops and the ability to address the problems which have played the market over many years and have seen it decline to a shadow of its former self.

By carefully ensuring that the shops are distinctive and continue to provide a character for the local area, it is hoped that those which are empty can be filled with similar operators serving the creative industries in the area by providing specialist materials, trimmings, finishes etc…

It is also hoped that the market will become more popular and the empty spaces and stalls will be filled with market stalls which serve both the local residents and the broader residential and business community at large. In order to achieve this, any successful purchaser will need to comply with the Planning Brief which already exits for the area, which recognises its special status and its unique contribution to Soho. It also recognises the need to spend a significant sum in upgrading the facilities so that the market can comply with modern Health and Safety requirements as to electricity and water supply and broaden its scope and diversity.

Although it will take some time to select a suitable party to work with the Council, they will need to demonstrate appropriate experience and commitment to a Scheme, it is hoped that this will finally unlock this part of Soho over the coming years.

The fact that Trenchard House is also now likely to be disposed of its current owners, the HCA, means that there is a real probability that this area of Soho will improve significantly, providing much needed additional housing (of all kinds), shops and a fully revitalised market.

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