Click for planning applications being looked at by CGCA and discussed at our fortnightly Planning Subcommittee meetings.
The Night Tube
London may benefit from a limited all-night weekend tube service such as the one being proposed by TfL and the Mayor’s office. But it must be impeccably managed, with plans to deal with the impact ‘above ground’ of people’s likely changes in behaviour at night, especially near tube stations. We are worried that such plans have not yet been put in place, even though the project is due to roll out soon.
Also, Covent Garden station is in a particularly sensitive, highly residential area which is currently quiet after Midnight, so we believe that it makes sense to keep this station closed at night. Four other stations within a few minutes’ walk can serve all the same journeys, so nobody will be inconvenienced,
Read more here.
Short letting & renting through websites like AirBnB
Reports of homes being rented out for short-term holiday lets have escalated over in the past year.
Much of this activity is illegal, but people are willing to risk high fines because it is so profitable in an area of great tourist demand like the West End of London. The activity erodes the housing stock and pushes up rents. And it can cause great distress to neighbours from antisocial behaviour and crime, or even just from a high turnover of noisy people coming in and out of a building who are always in holiday mood and don’t know the rules or conventions.
We maintain a register of particularly troublesome properties, and work with both Camden and Westminster to enforce the law in these cases.
Read more here.
The retail lobby has been pressing for deregulation of Sunday trading rules for a long time, but are the voices of residents going to be heard? Sunday really is special for people who live in those parts of our towns and cities that have become busy retail centres.
Here in the West End of London residents say “we get our neighbourhood back” on a Sunday morning and on relatively quiet Sunday evenings. The shops are still, the traffic flows lightly, and the relentless noisy deliveries stop. It’s a breathing space for us, a little down time for our families, before we welcome the crowds back again.
Most residents here love the liveliness and rich cultural mix, or they would not stay amid increasingly intense commercial pressures that squeeze our community on every side. But just as a city needs its green spaces, so city dwellers need their time spaces. We ask for our needs to be respected by our visitors and by those considering policy change.
Policing & Street Crime
Covent Garden is generally a very safe place. Our residents feel secure walking our streets at night in a way that people might not elsewhere, and break-ins are relatively rare. But a lot of criminal activity does take place here that, while it rarely harms local people, can make life unpleasant.
CGCA works closely with local police from both Camden and Westminster and with other agencies to try to minimise issues such as street drug dealing and high-level antisocial behaviour. Recent increases in crime come from foreign gangs who ship thieves over for a few months at a time, accommodate them in Dickensian conditions in outer London, and bring them into the West End for prostitution or to pickpocket and snatch mobile phones in the street.
If you see a crime taking place, please dial 999 immediately. If you know about a crime but it is not actually taking place, please dial 101. It is important that we report all crimes so that the police can task their officers where it counts, and so that CGCA can bring the right priorities to their attention. It is also essential to ask for a CAD number when you call. This ‘Computer Aided Despatch’ number, with the date that is part of it, uniquely identifies the incident – and without it follow-up can be difficult.
Office to residential conversions & loss of small businesses
Surely you would expect CGCA to be in favour of building and converting as many homes as possible, with our history of campaiging for more and better homes from our earliest days in the 1970s? But not necessarily. There are many factors to consider.
Small businesses and niche industries are part of the character of the West End. Some recent permissions for redevelopment will destroy these small commercial spaces to create luxury flats for investment and small London pads for occasional use. They do not create real, primary homes. And when the offices go, they take with them the local service businesses and sandwich shops that rely on them.
Risks to peoples’ homes from changes in the law
Proposals past and present such as increases in council tax, ‘mansion tax’ and earnings caps on social housing are all a threat to the community in Central London. They sound quite sensible ideas at first glance. But the context here is one where house prices and rental values have sky-rocketed while nothing special has happened to the incomes of people living in them.
Our long-term residents who own their own homes cannot afford to pay more tax just because their flats are valuable on paper. And our long-term residents who rent from the council or from housing associations can’t afford suddenly to pay enormous ‘commercial rents’ when their salaries tip over an arbitrary threshold. Such measures will force people to move away from Central London, and our community will lose many who have a strong stake here and contribute so much.
Parker Tower demolition & refurbishment
BNP Paribas Real Estate bought Parker Tower in April 2015. They plan to refurbish the building in line with the planning permission granted by Camden Council in 2014 (and some amendments granted in September 2015). The consented scheme is to convert Parker Tower from office to residential with 59 new apartments, including both private and affordable units, 74 cycle spaces and refurbishment of the basement car park as well as improving the public realm on Parker Street. For more information about the scheme, visit BNP Paribas’ consultation website, (though at the time of writing it appears to be in need of some updating). If you are affected by the demolition works, which will start in 2016, contact the company’s liaison Jessica Stewart at email@example.com or on 020 7125 0421.