Banksy is not a ‘disgrace’ – it is Westminster council that is a disgrace

Banksy artwork on wall saying: If Graffiti Changed Anything.

Councillor Robert Davis at his first planning committee since receiving an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List showed no signs of the humility normally associated with someone recognised for public service. If he was humbled, he was hiding it well. Davis was a sight to behold has he read out his lengthy declaration of interest before …

Camden Council must not waste an opportunity to gain housing

Corner of building.

Camden Council's planning committee is due to make a decision this month on plans to redevelop a former hospital building in Fitzrovia. But despite the site being identified for housing the proposals would deliver only two affordable homes. UCLH Charity seeks to redevelop Arthur Stanley House in Tottenham Street by refurbishing the main building and constructing an extension at the rear. The …

Homelessness is not a ‘lifestyle choice’

A man under a blanket on a park bench.

“When one has consorted with them, and found that they are ordinary human beings, one cannot help being struck by the curious attitude that society takes towards them,” wrote George Orwell about the homeless in his 1933 memoir, Down and Out in Paris and London. What would Orwell, who championed clarity and transparency in writing, …

Lack of affordable housing is diminishing our mixed neighbourhood

Row of Georgian houses.

The news of 88 affordable homes being completed across three sites in Fitzrovia is good news, but the number of homes is far short of what we should expect from planning policy and S106 agreements. At the Fitzroy Place development, out of 291 homes only 54 (17 percent) are affordable and only 40 of those are for …

Breakfast in Belgravia: Westminster City Council and rights to light

Ancient lights sign.

Robert Davis, deputy leader of Westminster City Council, declared in his register of interests that on 18 September 2014 he accepted the gift of "Breakfast at the Goring Hotel to discuss Rights of Light" with Westminster Property Association. A warm breakfast and a hot topic for the City Council and property developers, it seems. And also for residents …

Ministry of Justice in odd arrangement at Bedford Square

Front of Georgian buildings.

Buildings in Bedford Square used by the Ministry of Justice to hold tax tribunals belong to a company registered in a tax haven, says Private Eye. The discovery by the Eye means the UK government is going against its own rules which forbids it from transferring its assets offshore. In this case it is paying a landlord that is registered …

V1 death remembered, competition winners, and Lend Lease’s PR company. What the papers have been saying

Newspaper cutting.

The West End Extra has two stories in the latest issue about Fitzrovia. The paper reports on a memorial plaque to honour WPC Bertha Cleghorne who was killed on duty during an a World War 2 air raid. "WPC Gleghorn was killed, aged 33, when a V1 missile struck the rear of Tottenham Court Road police …

Affordable housing, viability, and profit

Cover of viability report.

Westminster City Council’s planning applications committee number 4 decided this week to defer a decision on an application to renegotiate a contribution to affordable housing. Instead members of the committee will take the unusual step of “seeing the viability report” and allowing “the applicant to consider a higher affordable housing payment”. In November 2013 the council …

Time out for Dobbo and more. What the local papers have been saying this week

Mastheads of London newspapers.

Fitzrovia has new distribution points for weekly papers the Camden New Journal (Thursdays) and its Westminster sibling the West End Extra (Fridays). The CNJ can be collected from the corner of Goodge Street and Whitfield Street. It is also available outside the Fitzrovia Community Centre in Foley Street where you can also get the WEE, Time Out and Fitzrovia …

One neighbourhood under a sandwich

Pret a Manger on corner of street.

Last Friday our friends -- I use the term loosely --  at the Fitzrovia Partnership Business Improvement District (BID) were tweeting away about the latest chain sandwich shop to open. "Who's heading to @Pret!? That's right - it's opening today! What a Friday treat!" they gushed full of excitement. What they probably didn't do was count how …

Don’t trust The Fitzrovia Partnership for mother’s day advice

Newsletter.

I can imagine nothing worse than hauling my mother into central London with the promise of fine dining and a glass of wine only to find the restaurant closed. But that's what would happen if I was dumb enough to heed the advice from Fitzrovia's so-called business improvement district. The Fitzrovia BID's latest newsletter  -- decorated in pink …

No shortage of housing in the West End of London

Dwellings and electorate statistics.

The West End ward in the City of Westminster is now unusual in that it has an excess of housing. Hard to believe with all the worrying news about shortage of homes for Londoners. But between the neighbourhoods of Mayfair, Soho and a large chunk of Fitzrovia there are now more individual dwellings than there …

What the First World War means to me

Date on stone memorial 1914-1919

By Simon Glyndwr John I read “Our Island Story,” by H E Marshall, when I was about ten years old and began a lifelong love of history and books. Unsurprisingly, history became my best academic subject and within that subject one topic chose me: the First World War (WW1).  My interest in WW1 developed whilst …

Evening Standard lost in time and space with Saatchi feature

Press cutting from Evening Standard with picture of Norman Cook.

The Evening Standard has got both geography and history mixed up with its article on Saatchi & Saatchi's forthcoming departure from Charlotte Street. In a feature on its business pages today Fitzrovia's most famous advertising agency is reported as about "to move east from Soho to a new landmark office on the former site of …

Fitzrovia BID acting like clowns on Twitter

Twitter screen shot.

When the London Evening Standard's Homes & Property editors called on locals to respond with their tips for great places in Fitzrovia to enjoy, a number of attractive suggestions were made. But the one suggestion made on Twitter which stood out head and shoulders above the rest was the recommendation put forward by the Fitzrovia …

Camden Council and Fitzrovia BID drunk in charge of food and drink quarter

Cans of beer on supermarket shelf.

Readers of the Evening Standard and the Camden New Journal may have seen articles last week about an initiative by Camden Council to stop sales of super strength lager and cider in off-licenses in south Camden. Someone in the Town Hall is busy running a public relations campaign this festive season. "A pilot scheme will …

Michelin recognises Fitzrovia eateries in 2014 guide, but the food fight continues

The prestigious Michelin guide to restaurants and hotels has continued to recognise Fitzrovia restaurants and has also awarded new eateries. In its 2014 edition published this month nine Fitzrovia establishments are listed. However, food and restaurants arouse passions in the neighbourhood in many ways. Three restaurants -- Dabbous in Whitfield Street, Pied à Terre in …

Boris Johnson’s housing policy is feeding a “developers’ feast”

By Angela Lovely London assembly member Darren Johnson says the Mayor of London is actively encouraging overseas investors to buy up homes in London. In a report published this week he says the Mayor's policies are doing little for ordinary Londoners but everything to feed a "developers feast". That's stating the obvious for people in …