Why I'm speaking out to #SaveTheYard
Many readers will have heard about the planning proposal submitted to Westminster City Council for redevelopment of The Yard Bar in Soho.
The site an iconic venue and important independent business in Soho, but is also a unique and historic building. For these reasons I am opposing the applications.
Developers have submitted two separate applications, which are a reincarnation of proposals first submitted in 2010 and were rejected by Westminster Council but won approval on appeal.
The first would see a basement excavation under the existing courtyard to provide storage and staff room facilities, as well as enclosing the existing courtyard with a glass platform which would provide additional space upstairs, consequently removing the unique enclosed outdoor space on the ground floor. The second application would see three flats build above the existing first floor, removing the timber beamed roof.
The first application is due to be considered by Westminster planning committee tomorrow.
The Yard is a unique place within Soho. It is the only remaining stable yard and a place where people from across the communities in Soho can make use of outside space, away from the busy streets. There are 14 years remaining on the current lease and this application is unnecessary, inappropriate and unwelcome.
The proposals would be an unacceptable intensification on the site, would see customers forced out onto a busy thoroughfare to smoke creating a nuisance and would damage the local Conservation Area. There are very few places where customers can enjoy a drink and smoke away from the busy streets of Soho. Westminster seeks to preserve the culture of Soho and that does not mean there should be no development, but any proposed development must enhance the area not undermine it.
I will be speaking on behalf of residents at the planning committee tomorrow against the development and urging colleagues to reject the application.
Work is also being undertaken by the Society Society, which I am supporting, to provide long-term protection for the site with listed building status, given its unique nature.
The planning committee meets at Westminster City Halll, 64 Victoria Street at 18:30 on Tuesday 27th January 2015. There is a public gallery, but only councillors can speak.
For more information and to support the campaign, please visit http://yardbar.co.uk/