St John’s Wood

ST JOHN’S WOOD LABOUR ACTION REPORT – March 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carlton Hill

We have asked the Road Safety Team to investigate this issue:

“We have lived on the west side of Carlton Hill for 12 years. The traffic is getting worse by the day. The problem is that we have incoming traffic from various roads: Maida Vale Road (left at the lights into Carlton Hill), Hamilton Terrace and Abbey Road.  Moreover, cars perceive Carlton Hill as a wide road (it is between Maida Vale and the junction with Hamilton Terrace) and go at high speed all the way through, which is quite dangerous. Can anything be done about this?”

Abbey Road

We have reported a burst water main at the Abbey Road zebra crossing.

Finchley Road

We are making enquiries again about this issue:

“Crossing Finchley Road from Marlborough Place and travelling onto Queens Grove, the traffic light allows only a few cars through and then all traffic is stationery for a few long minutes. It would be so much more efficient to keeping the traffic flowing with a green turning arrow for cars crossing Finchley Road heading East at this junction.”

Cochrane Street

We have contacted the Parking Department about this issue:

“Apparently there are no restrictions on a Saturday and Cochrane Street is used for parking by motorists from outside the area, many of whom park there to avoid payment in neighbouring streets.  This causes problems for local residents with permits wishing to park there and can make crossing the road hazardous for pedestrians.”

15 Loudoun Road – Update

We have received the following update from the Council following our enquiries:

“Following engagement with the owners of the above property, planning permission and listed building consents have been approved, and are in the process of being implemented. These consents permit the refurbishment and extension of the property, and address the issues that were raised as part of the untidy land complaints. In addition, a hoarding has been erected to protect the site during the construction, and has helped resolve the fly tipping issue. The City Council continues to monitor the site to ensure that the works are in accordance with the planning permission, but has decided to take no further action with regard to the untidy land.”

 

ST JOHN’S WOOD LABOUR ACTION REPORT – February 2017

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Clifton Hill/Greville Place

We have asked the Planning Department about this issue:

“There is an empty/half-finished house on the corner of Clifton Hill and Greville Place. It’s been in this state for possibly 10 years. What can be done to finish the work?” 

The Clifton pub

Many residents have asked us when The Clifton pub will re-open. It looks like the refurbishment works have stopped and we are trying to find out what is happening. 

Northwick Close 

We asked the Council to fix a broken street light in Northwick Close, just by the Cedric Chambers flats.

187 bus route

A resident has suggested this change. What do you think?

“Please could you look at a frequently asked request for the 187 bus to be re routed through St John’s Wood Road on its journey from Central Middlesex Hospital to Finchley Road O2 Centre instead of Hall Road as it is duplicating the no46 route at this point? This would better serve local residents and the many visitors to Lord’s Cricket Ground.”

Carlton Hill – what you say

“I was one of the residents who some 20 years ago campaigned for speed calming measures to be installed and suggested a chicane rather than humps or tables, but I now wish I hadn’t as heavy goods vehicles and especially skip lorries seem to love driving as fast as they can over the humps causing noise and dreadful vibrations that make the houses shake.”

“I live in a house in Carlton Hill, east of Abbey Road, and this stretch is affected by the increased amount of traffic and heavy vehicles in exactly the same way as the section west of Abbey Road. So perhaps the Council could look at the road as a whole.”

Cycle super-highway – what you say

“Finchley Road Road through to Swiss Cottage and beyond is a major arterial route to Central London for all of North West London and beyond. This route can only get busier as there has been a phenomenal amount of new housing built along this route and beyond, and if only a fraction of the new homeowners use cars, it is still an increase.  And yet we see TFL trying to funnel car users into a reduced area.”

 

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – January 2017

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Circus Road

We asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“Please do something about installing rubbish bins on piece of land adjacent to St John’s Wood Post Office. There are two seats there, in use all day. People take their lunch breaks there and there are NO BINS! it is always unpleasant to see all the rubbish left there every day.”

We were delighted to hear from residents: 

“It was wonderful yesterday to walk past the post office in Circus Road and see that a rubbish bin had been placed next to the benches where people sit to eat their lunches etc. Thank you for your efforts, a result after years of trying to get it resolved.”

St John’s Wood Terrace 

We have asked the Council to look into this issue:

“A few years ago I urged Westminster Council to install a bench to enable the elderly residents of the two almshouses to rest on their way to and from the shops. We got the bench and we use it daily. So too, do the employees of the many estate agents nearby and gentlemen of the road and Saturday night revellers! A bin has been placed on the kerb a good way from the bench so no-one uses it but all debris, bottles, cans and empty sandwich packets clutter up the bench and me and my neighbours frequently are the ones to clear up and place the rubbish in the bin.

Is it not beyond the wit for the bin (it’s a heavy duty one) to be moved beside the bench so that it encourages those using the bench for eating/drinking to dispose of their own rubbish?”

41 Abbey Road – Update 

Following our enquiries about the derelict state of this property, the Planning Department has told us the following:

“We wrote to the proprietors of the property in December 2016 requiring a written confirmation of their plans of how they intend to improve the appearance and condition of the property. Our letter brought the following concerns to their attention:

  • the condition of the render on the front elevation at all levels
  • cracks on the front façade in need of repair with lime-based mortar
  • peeling and flaking paintwork, including window frames, windowsills, walls and parapet, in need of repair and repainting to match the remainder of the building
  • poor state of cornices and all window sills and frames, also in need of repair works with lime-based mortar and repainting to match the building
  • vegetation growing from within the windows and walls of the building. 

They sent an email informing the City Council that they are currently obtaining quotations from contractors to carry out works as per our letter. However, due to the Christmas break, obtaining quotations was taking longer than anticipated. They hope to begin works shortly.”

Grove End Road

We reported a water leak at the end of Grove End Road in the hope that it could be fixed before it caused serious damage.

Carlton Hill

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

May I draw your attention to the increased level of traffic now using Carlton Hill west of Abbey Rd. it is a residential street but in the morning, early evening and now most of the day it is taking much more heavy traffic than it was designed for. There are speed bumps but these are not doing the trick, in fact heavy vehicles taking them at speed are causing shock-waves to affect the houses. Additionally, residents’ Vehicles leaving their off street parking take their lives in their hands as they try to reverse out onto the road. The speed and volume of traffic, associated noise and pollution really does need to be addressed.”

Acacia Road/St John’s Wood Tube Station

We arranged for a number of dumped Christmas Trees to be removed.

Park Road/Baker Street

We have asked the Road Safety Team to look into this issue:

“At the junction of Park Road with Baker Street there is a traffic light which pretty much gets ignored by the motorists. We have to cross there every day on our way to school and back – and have nearly got run over several times or at least gotten some nasty looks as we make our way through the cars during green light for the pedestrians. It is very dangerous with my 3 kids and very frustrating because drivers just don’t care or maybe they don’t notice that they have to stop?”

Empty Property

We have asked the Council to tell us what can be done to get these two properties repaired and back in to occupation:

  • 19 Cavendish Avenue NW8 – a very large beautiful old house falling into disrepair.  A rusty sat dish on the side, no tv aerial on roof that I can see.  Always a light on in lobby behind front door and a light at the side.
  • 112 Hamilton Terrace NW8 – another large house in disrepair.  I noted tv aerial on the house and lower windows one had shutters closed the other a grill so some security.  Other windows blinds or a partial curtain.  No lights.  The front portico over the door is padded over to secure crumbling decoration over the portal

 

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – December 2016

Ordnance Hill

We have made enquiries about a long standing empty Council property in Ordnance Hill:

“The house next door has been empty for nearly two years. The council say it would be too expensive to ‘do up’ in order to house a needy family. But the neighbour who left the address said it was perfectly okay. It is now, however, getting very run down. If the Council were not planning to sell it for these years why hasn’t it been used for temporary emergency family housing? And why haven’t the Council looked after the property meantime? This morning I saw a rat coming from the front of that property.”

The Star, St John’s Wood Terrace – Update 

Following our enquiries, the Council says: 

“Since the appeal was decided, we have heard very little from the owners.  However, we understand they are looking at bringing forward a development that reopens the pub at ground and basement levels with flat/s above.” 

St John’s Wood Barracks

Revised plans on a scheme to turn the former army barracks in St John’s Wood into luxury homes has been submitted to Westminster City Council. The Council gave the scheme planning permission back in 2014 for 163 apartments and houses but this has now been increased by eight – while a series of villas has been reduced in number. The site, will also include retail along with 59 affordable homes and a further 41 off-site.

Wellington Road

We have reported this issue to TfL:

“We live on the west side of Wellington Road, the extension southward of Finchley Road from St Johns Wood station to the roundabout at Lords which includes Wellington North and Wellingon South hospitals and the pavements here are in a very poor condition.  Taking into consideration the crowds using this thoroughfare during the cricket season, plus those using the hospital and of course the many pedestrians going to and from the station and bus stops etc., when is this extension to Finchley Road pavements going to be repaired?”

Finchley Road/Marlborough Place

We have asked the Council and TfL to investigate this suggestion:

“Crossing Finchley Road from Marlborough Place and travelling onto Queens Grove, the traffic light allows only a few cars through and then all traffic is stationery for a few long minutes. It would be so much more efficient to keeping the traffic flowing with a green turning arrow for cars crossing Finchley Road heading East at this junction.”

 

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – November 2016

Finchley Road/Queen’s Grove

We asked the Council to investigate this issue

“I have noticed that the drivers travelling from Marlborough Place and continuing onto Queens Grove via the traffic light at Finchley Road tend to not keep to their side of the road and are often heading straight towards oncoming traffic that is turning out of Queens Grove and left onto Finchley Road. This is a problem as on many occasions I have had to brake very suddenly so as to avoid a head on collision despite staying very clearly in my side of the road. “

The Council has told us:

“I am pleased to be able to inform you that Transport for London were aware of the issue that has been raised. Consequently. as part of their planned works at this junction TfL will be amending the line markings for right turning vehicles into Queens Grove from Finchley Road. The stop line is being realigned so that turning vehicles remain on the correct side of the road. The amendments to the carriageway markings were undertaken at the end of October. Hopefully this will address this issue and TfL will be monitoring the revised layout once installed.” 

Residents say: 

“Thank you so much for sending this issue to the correct people. I am very grateful for the action that will be taking place. I hope that this is enough to solve this problem. Again, many many thanks for your swift action.”

St John’s Wood Post Office 

Our petition to peen open St John’s Wood Post office has over 150 signatures and you can sign here https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/keep-the-st-john-s-wood-post-office-open. These are some of your comments:

“The staff really know what they are doing and have years of experience. Everything is very efficient each time I go there and there is a staff member who helpfully corrected my daughter’s passport application three times before I successfully submitted it and received her passport within a few days.”

“This is a PROPER post-office. Formosa St is nowhere close to the quality of service that we have been used to receive in SJW… A very sad news indeed! Keep it open!”

“St John’s Wood post office is vital to the neighbourhood. It is always busy and provides a great service. The next post office nearby would be the corner shop in Formosa St! It can sometimes barely cope with the numbers it serves.”

St John’s Wood Station

We have asked the Council to fix this problem:

“I hope you could talk to the council about the lake that appears outside St. John’s Wood station when it rains – by the newspaper hut. Somewhere there is a drainage problem. Makes it impossible to cross safely.” 

Elm Tree Road – Update

Following our enquiries about improving visibility for drivers along this ‘dog-leg’ road, the Council say: 

“Mirrors are not a ‘permitted’ measure on the highway so that is not an option. As there have not been any personal injury accidents at this location in the last 3 years there is not really the justification for any intervention measures. However, I have noted that there are already SLOW markings on either side of the bend and these probably need to be refreshed. In addition. it might be that a centre-line is implemented on the bend to provide a further indication of the change in direction of the road.”

St John’s Wood roundabout

We have asked Transport for London to complete the replacement of the safety railings after receiving this message:

“Thank you for taking notice of my concern regarding the safety railing near St Johns Wood park leading out onto St johns wood round about. Why has only HALF of the safety railing been replaced? You can clearly see markings on the pavement outside of the position of the previously removed railing. Currently it only makes half of the area outside the gate safe. If a child were to exit the gates and turn right he/she would end up on the busy round about. “

TfL say:

“Originally intended to guide pedestrians away from the road, guardrails had the opposite effect. We found that people often walked around them, which sometimes trapped them in the road. Pedestrian guardrails are not vehicle restraint barriers and do not offer pedestrians protection from vehicles. In many cases, they provide a false sense of security to both pedestrians and drivers. We have been monitoring the situation where guardrail has been removed, and we have noticed a decline in the numbers of incidents involving pedestrians.

At this particular location, we did not consider the guardrail to be offering benefit to any user of the highway and so had it removed, however after receiving representations from a local school and others, we met with the school on site and agreed to reinstall the panels that are today, and in both of our views that was determined to be the most suitable outcome.”

Abbey Road

We have asked the Planning Department for an update on this issue:

“I wonder if anyone knows what is going on inside and outside no. 41 Abbey Road. It was a nursing home when I moved here and now look at it…… A disgrace”

 

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – October 2016

St John’s Wood Post Office

We have started a petition calling on Westminster Council to lobby the Post Office to keep open the Crown Post Office on Circus Road, St John’s Wood

http://petitions.westminster.gov.uk/CircusRoadPO/

The government owned Post Office on Circus Road serving St John’s Wood is set to shut down or be taken over by a private company.  It has been identified as 1 of 42 loss-making main Crown branches in the UK. It is currently on the market as a franchise meaning a private company could take it over and run it.

So far, the petition has been signed by 138 local residents – many thanks!

The Star, St John’s Wood Terrace – update 

The Planning Department tell us:

“The applicant’s appeal was dismissed and we understand that the unauthorised use has ceased operation. At this stage, we do not know if anyone else has taken the premises on, whether the pub will reopen or if it is on the market.”

Northwick Terrace

We have contacted the Council’s Tree Officer about this issue:

“Two years ago, the Council removed a tree from the west side of Northwick Terrace, promising to replace it.  This has not happened and the space is an ugly blank except for the rubbish which accumulates there. Can it please be replaced?” 

The Tree Officer says: 

“We’ll be planting replacement trees towards the end of the month and I can confirm that this on the list.”

Cunningham Place/Aberdeen Place

We have reported these issues to the Council for investigation:

“Since the closure of the Regent’s Canal towpath between Cunningham/Aberdeen Place and Lisson Grove many more people have been using the high-level pathway adjacent to Wharncliffe Gardens Estate.  However, this is still being extensively used by cyclists who do not dismount and is subject to large pools of water after even average rainfall due to inadequate drainage. Would you please take the following issues up with the Council: 

  • Almost all the “No Cycling” signs are missing and new ones are required at both ends of the footpath and at intermediate points;
  • The drains adjacent to the railings are blocked and need to be unblocked.
  • Several of the lights are on all day thereby wasting electricity and the barriers designed to encourage cyclists to dismount could do with a coat of paint.”

We also asked the Council to remove graffiti from a wall at the junction of these two roads:

“This eye sore at the end of the road just brings the area down and encourages more of the same. Can you get the council to clean up the graffiti? It’s been here for ages and more and more is added. Also, the dumping of rubbish around the recycling bins is appalling. Collections really need to take place here daily.”

Residents tell us:

“Just to say thanks for arranging for the problem with the lighting to be addressed.  You will be pleased to know that the lights are now not burning during the day.”

‘Huge thanks for pointing, as ever, your boot in the right direction! The graffiti in Cunningham Place has been removed. I’m not sure when, but I was delighted to see a lovely clean wall today. I’m sure they will vandalise it again, but for the time being it looks great.”

Queen’s Grove  

We have asked the Council to take this issue up with TfL: 

“The disused Marlborough Road underground station is undergoing extensive prolonged works by TfL in the middle of the night. The team arrive and leave during the night as they change shifts but park along our road noisily, banging car doors, having conversations and roaring engines. This is very disruptive to those of us who have bedrooms to the front of our houses including children, students doing exams, the elderly and so forth. The consequences are huge. Dogs bark, people have their sleep disrupted, shut the windows and generally experience stress.

The solution is simple, if only Transport for London would listen, which is for the service personnel to park along the stretches of Marlborough Place and Queen’s terrace where there are no occupied residences to disturb. Please can you help with this?”

Abbey Road 

We have asked the Council to replace the lights on the belisha beacons at the ‘Beatles crossing’ on Abbey Road.

Hill Road

We have asked the Council to repair a defective street light in Hill Road. 

Hall Road/Circus Road

We have made enquiries about this issue:

“Can you please ask the council why they are not hoovering out the drains which are becoming clogged with leaves?   The junction of Hall Rd and Circus Road the drains were full yesterday and there wasn’t much rain. No wonder there is flooding.”

Elm Tree Road

We have asked the Council investigate this issue:

“I live in Elm Tree Rd, a small road between Grove End and Circus roads with a dangerous full 90 degree elbow bend. I had previously written to you regarding a mirror which had been mounted on a tree on the bend which had been removed and the response was that this mirror had not been placed by the council. The danger remains and a mirror mounted on a pole on the corner would help reduce the danger. Could the council mount such a mirror in the interests of public safety?”

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – September 2016

Petition to save St John’s Wood Post Office from closure

We have started a petition calling on Westminster Council to lobby the Post Office to keep open the Crown Post Office on Circus Road, St John’s Wood

http://petitions.westminster.gov.uk/CircusRoadPO/

The government owned Post Office on Circus Road serving St John’s Wood is set to shut down or be taken over by a private company.  It has been identified as 1 of 42 loss-making main Crown branches in the UK. It is currently on the market as a franchise meaning a private company could take it over and run  it.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said the changes are not necessary as the Post Office is due to break even this year. It added that the move is being forced through in a bid to make a £10million turnover by the end of 2018. CWU rep Huw Davis said:

“It’s early days but it’s an outrage where we’ll see many job losses. They want to make £10m by ridding those they say are losing profits, looking at staffing costs and buildings. Somehow the St John Wood’s Post Office has become part of that. The services, whether you get them in WH Smith or in a shop is not as good as what you get from dedicated staff who have worked there for many years. I hope the public will fight against this privatisation.”

Hall Road

We have reported this issue to the Council:

Can you investigate traffic flow in Hall Road.  This is a bus route. Due to extensive building works there are often lorries parked both sides of the road most of the day. It makes it very difficult for local residents who wish to pass through this road. I understand there is to be a further development in William Court. Please can you see that the Road is free for cars to pass freely and for wardens to monitor the parking.”

The Council say:

“Marshals have been to this location and spoken with the site manager who states that they are asking their drivers to report to site later in the day to help ease any congestion.  Our marshals have also been regularly patrolling the area and will continue to do so, and so far on their visits the area has been clear of any obstructions.”

Wellington Road

We have asked the Council to fix a drain cover outside Lord’s – “It’s noisy when the car goes over the it but when a bus or a train goes over it it is ear piercing”

St John’s Wood roundabout

We have asked the Council to let us know about this issue:

Why have the safety railings outside St Johns Wood park leading onto St John’s Wood roundabout been removed? This is a major issue as the exit leading onto St John’s Wood roundabout has a slope near the exit and children on their push bikes or scooters exit it frequently. Please have the safety railing put back as a matter of urgency before some child gets seriously injured”

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – August 2016

Bus Routes 13, 82, 113, 139 and 189

TfL are consulting on changes to bus routes 13, 82, 113, 139 and 189 that operate in the ‘Baker Street corridor’ area serving Golders Green, Finchley Road, Abbey Road, Baker Street and Oxford Street. This is a revised proposal following feedback received during a previous consultation held in spring 2015, which resulted in extensive opposition to the plans for route 13. Further information and a response form are available on TfL’s website: www.tfl.gov.uk/consultations including full details, maps and frequency information. The consultation closes on Friday 30 September 2016

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – July 2016

Elwood House

We have urged the Council to deal with unpleasant smells in this block following concerns raised by residents. The Estate Office has told us:

“I managed to get Thames Water out today and have just completed an hour long inspection with them on the drainage system. We got to the route of the cause of the blockage, this was proved to be excessive domestic waste, specifically wet wipes and nappies. This waste got down to Thames Water drainage system and built up over time, causing the blockage to the drains. There was so much in the drainage that the regular van and unit they sent to was not powerful enough and had to send out a “heavy duty” unit who will have the relevant equipment that can jet out the waste. They are scheduled to return this afternoon. Therefore, in light of this situation, letters will be sent out to the residents informing them of guidelines of what can and cannot be put down they’re sinks and toilets.”

Cotman House

We have asked the Estate Office to investigate persistent anti-social behavior at Cotman House.

Hill Road

We have again urged the Council to repair two longstanding potholes in Hill Road outside numbers 20-22.

Circus Road bus shelter – Update

Following our enquiries, TfL has told us:

“I am sorry we have been unable to provide a shelter at this location. We tried installing a shelter in 2007 but the attempt failed due to a legal challenge. A further request was received last summer but was not pursued in view of what had happened previously. The local authority then consulted locally about providing a bench. I understand this was initially positioned to the back of the footway but was moved to the middle after objections were received. We have no plans to provide a shelter at this location.”

Junction Maida Vale and Carlton Hill/Carlton Vale – update

Following our enquiries, the Council says:

“The construction has taken longer than expected but the scheme is now nearing completion. The current position is that the ducting works have been completed and TfL is now on site installing the new signals equipment, including all-round pedestrian facilities. These signals works are currently programmed to be completed by 14th/15th July. Resurfacing of the junction will then follow, taking a few days. Lastly high friction surfacing on the approaches will be laid towards the end of August.”

Springfield Road

We have reported this issue to the Council for investigation:

“There are builders working at two sites in Springfield Road and regularly the builders block off the residents parking bays with cones or bags of rubble and/ or planks of wood or just park their vans or skips in the bay’s without having any permits or applying for suspension of the bay’s from Westminster and which are totally ignored by the traffic wardens to the detriment of the residents who wish to park there. Cannot Westminster and its wardens not enforce the law and ensure that the builders do not abuse the law and inconvenience the residents more than absolutely necessary?”

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – June 2016

St John’s Wood Post Office

We have written to the Post Office to oppose the proposed closure of the St John’s Wood Post Office. We said:

“The Post Office is an essential local service used and valued by many residents; especially older people with reduced mobility who rely on the variety of services it provides. St. John’s Wood High Street is a great example of small independent business working to serve local residents and the loss of the Post Office would be keenly felt. As the possibility of the Post Office closing is a matter of great concern locally we would appreciate it if I could be kept update with any developments regarding its future.”

The Post Office say:

“We have identified St John’s Wood Crown Post Office as a branch where we are seeking a franchisee to take on the running of the Post Office.  At this stage we have not finalised proposals for this branch and we will launch a public consultation when we can announce our intended franchise partner and location for the branch.  We will also host a customer forum so that members of the public can speak to Post Office Ltd about our plans.”

Abbey Road

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“Once again Abbey Road was flooded in the recent rains. The drain on the south eastern corner of Abbey Road/Carlton Hill remains blocked. This has been the case for 5 years. The water runs north on Abbey Road and west on Carlton Hill flooding to the crown of the road. You cannot access the post box or stand at the bus stop without being drenched by passing vehicles.”

Violet Hill Garden

We have asked the Parks Department to investigate this issue:

“I have a serious problem with dog owners using Violet Hill gardens as a dog lavatory.  I regularly see young children playing on the small lawn, too young for the playground, being totally ignored by dog owners who allow their animals to foul the grass near to where they are playing.  I have challenged a few of these selfish dog owners and been shocked by their response.  The problem is that, no matter how scrupulously they clean up after their dogs, if the animals defecate on the lawn one cannot clean the grass properly.  The smell and traces of poo remain.  Parents do not allow children to defecate in public!  Why should we accept gross behaviour from dog owners? Not all of us are lucky enough to live in houses with gardens.  We need our parks for the children.  But we cannot allow toddlers to play amongst filth which can so easily be prevented. “

Barrow Hill area

We asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“I would just like to mention whilst writing if anyone else has found it rather disagreeable seeing so many small black bags littered around Charlbert Street, Eamont Street, Mackennal Street, and other streets in NW8 left by dog owners.  May be a few dog bins would help.”

The Council says:

“Dog owners can use any of our street litter bins to dispose of bagged waste – the majority of our litter bins have stickers highlighting that bagged dog waste can be put in the bins. Several additional bins were placed in streets around this particular estate last year to assist owners.”

Cameron House update

The Estate Office has given us the following update

“We currently working with our ASB team and have taken steps to address the issue of youths congregating in the area that has been highlighted to us near Cameron House. Quotes have been requested from our contractor to install gates in the vicinity of Cameron House’ sheds which were highlighted as an area of concern, and will be applying for funding to install them once this has been received.”

Elm Tree Road

We have asked the Council to fix this problem:

“Elm Tree Road is a narrow road which has a 90 degree dogs leg bend. We are on the bend. Very dangerous bend for traffic. A mirror had been fixed to a tree, presumably by the council – to help motorists see incoming traffic. This mirror has been removed.”

Aberdeen Place

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“I live on Aberdeen Place. We have two problems on the street; the pub traffic where people come and park outside the pub. The zone restriction ends at 6.30 Mon -Fri and basically as a resident I don’t remember the last time I was able to park on the street. Second problem is that on any given day 70-75% of cars parked on Aberdeen Place are Zone C; so people drive from zone C and leave their cars on Aberdeen Place as it is closer to Paddington etc. Everyone iving on Aberdeen Place gets resident permit Zone B, yet the vast majority of cars parked on Aberdeen Place are Zone C. A simple solution would be to re-zone Aberdeen Place into Zone B and not B/C. We have cricket coming up and this would make parking impossible on weekends.”

The Council says:

“I have investigated this and it appears that this allowance of allowing C and B permit holders to park in certain counter respective zones seems to be as a consequence of a decision that was taken back as far as 1990. Although, the full reasons for this decision seems to have been lost in time, it is felt that it was something to do with boundary changes that happened then. I have therefore forwarded this request onto the relevant parties, so that it can form part of our Parking Service Review to see if there is still a need for this concession. The point raised regarding extending controlled parking hours already forms part of this review process anyway and will be looked at in line with this policy review.”

Prince Albert Road

We have asked the police to be vigilant about this issue and to take action whenever possible:

“I continually observe cyclists on the pavement along Prince Albert Road. Today one came around from Townshend Road on to Allitsen Road on the pavement and told my wife and I to get out of the way   This cannot be right. We are pensioners.”

The Star, St John’s Wood Terrace

Karen Buck MP has received the following update from the Council:

“I am aware that the Property has recently re-opened with the same estate agents occupying the ground floor.  An enforcement notice in respect of the use of the site has not been served because the unauthorised use ceased and it became a vacant public house, which is not a breach of planning control.  A planning enforcement inspection has recently been carried out, which confirmed that it is no longer a vacant public house and is being used in breach of planning control – although this is disputed by the owner.

A Public Inquiry is due to be held at the City Council’s offices on 7 June in respect of the appeal the owner has lodged against the City Council’s refusal of their Certificate of Lawfulness application from last year.  The Planning Inspector’s decision on this appeal will clarify whether an estate agent use of the Property is lawful or not.  It is therefore likely that the formal service of an enforcement notice will be held in abeyance pending the formal determination of that appeal, which should be shortly after the Public Inquiry. “

Circus Road

We have asked TfL to let us know the situation about the missing bus shelter:

“Please can you find out why the bus shelter on the south side of Circus Road closest to the Wellington Hospital was removed? Now there is a very nice bench (strangely and inconveniently placed in the centre of the pavement) instead, and no shelter. It seems to me that the shelter would have been better left as is!”

Building works in St John’s Wood

We have asked the Council to investigate a number of building sites in Cliftom Hill and Springfield Road to ensure that the sites are safe.

 

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – May 2016

St John’s Wood Station

We asked TfL to look into this issue:

“St John’s Wood Station was without down escalator service for almost three months while it was serviced. A fortnight ago it re-entered service only to collapse after 10 days. There has been no service since Friday and no technicians are working on it. This is unacceptable. At the same time I would point out that 70% of the light bulbs in the listed uplighters on the escalator are burned out.”

We also asked TfL to investigate this matter:

“TfL recently refurbished the St John’s Wood Station bus stop towards Baker St/Oxford Street but have removed the indicator board!!There are 5 different routes from this stop & timings are needed especially on routes 46 and 187 which have 15 minute intervals and much longer at weekends and also 82 bus to Victoria. Why has it not been replaced?”

TfL have given us the complete list of Countdown signs temporarily out of use, including the one at St John’s Wood Station https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/publications-and-reports/buses. They say that they are waiting for the power to be connected.

Circus Road

We have asked the Council to repair the pavement in Circus Road after receiving this message:

“A resident of Grove End Road is confined to a wheel-chair and has to make regular visits to the medical facilities in Circus Road.  She tells me that the condition of the pavement on her route, especially in the vicinity of the medical practices in Circus Road, is in a very bad condition and causes problems for the person pushing her.”

Cunningham Place/St John’s Wood Road

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“I took my paper for recycling to the containers at the corner of Cunningham Place and Aberdeen Place and found that both waste paper containers were full to overflowing with paper strewed around on the nearby pavement. This is a very unsatisfactory situation as, I assume, the containers are not emptied at weekends and many people, especially those in employment, bring their recyclable waste there at the weekend.  I have experienced overflowing containers on previous occasions and feel that the containers should be emptied more frequently as many residents are being discouraged from recycling.”

The Council says:

“The recycling bin collection frequency at Aberdeen Place is currently scheduled for Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday each week. The basic plan is that we appreciate many more residents use the bins at weekends so they are cleared on Friday (ready for heavy usage on Saturday) and then again on Sunday morning.  Unfortunately, it isn’t cost effective to send vehicles every day unless usage is consistently above 50% of the ‘bin capacity’ available. Some bin locations can be overwhelmed on occasion by one or more residents having a major clear-out (e.g. large volumes of cardboard packaging) but we are tracking patterns of usage to determine efficient collection schedules. I have asked for a review of weekend usage at Aberdeen Place to take place over the next four weeks and this data will be used to determine whether collections need to be increased or changed around.”

St John’s Wood Terrace

We are continuing to chase this issue:

“We are still experiencing problematic minicabs parking in our resident bays in St John’s Wood Terrace and at the junction of Townshend Road. We therefore end up having to park a further distance from our homes which is proving annoying. especially with shopping and young children.”

Wellington Road

We have reported this issue to the Council:

“There is a very noisy drain cover outside the National Express bus stop going north on Wellington Road, outside Lords Cricket Ground. It is very near the Wellington Hospital and must worry them also. The noise when vehicles go over it is very disturbing. Could this also be repaired asap?”

Loudoun Road 

We have asked the Road Safety Team to investigate this issue:

“Please could there be a review of traffic slowing measures and/or speed limit review on Loudoun Road. Due to an increase in commuter traffic off late it has become increasingly difficult to cross the road safely between 8am-9am especially.  Cars appear to be undeterred by the rather low speed bumps and pay no notice to residents attempting to cross the road with very small kids and babies. I was in fact scraped by someone’s wing mirror last week as I was attaching one of my two kids in the car seat.  This morning I waved at a car to slow down only to be almost run over and beeped at furiously.  It will not take long before a serious accident at this rate….”

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – April 2016

Great news – The Clifton Pub in St. John’s Wood has just won its Licence!

Local campaigners say:

“During the last two and a half years we managed to get an Asset of  Community Value  status on our historical pub and stop it being developed into a residential building. Our new landlords hope to open in July 2016, but I will keep you updated on the official opening date, I believe they will also be brewing their own Clifton Ale in time!”

Circus Road/ Cavendish Road

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“Could you request that the council installs a street rubbish bin somewhere on the corner of Circus Road and Cavendish Avenue in St John’s Wood, NW8. This busy spot opposite the rear of the St John & Elizabeth hospital and a NHS health centre is constantly full of waiting taxis and private cars as well as hospital transportation and other health service vehicles   The drivers generate rubbish and rather than taking it home with them some see fit to throw coffee cups, food and other trash in to the cages surrounding the saplings at this end of the road.”

The Council say:

“There are two nearby litterbins on either side of Circus Road next to the bus stops so I am tentative as to whether cabbies and other vehicle owners will actually use it. We will therefore trial another bin and monitor its usage for four weeks and then make a decision on whether it stays or goes. I have asked Veolia to arrange for its installation.”

Residents say:

“I noticed that there are indeed two bins in the vicinity; one is a hundred metres down the road near a bus stop on Circus Road and the other is on the other side of Circus Road near the hospital entrance. However, the cars, vans and taxis all wait in Cavendish Road and seemingly can’t be bothered to walk down the street or cross a busy road. So I maintain it would be useful to have a bin on the Cavendish Road /Circus Road junction on the right hand side pavement.”

Tesco, Circus Road

We have asked the Council again to investigate this issue:

“The parking of lorries outside Tesco’s at St John’s Wood still goes on. They are still there every day up to 10 a.m. (they leave space for 1 small car on some occasions). They complete ignore the fact that they should clear by 8am.”

St John’s Wood Road

We have reported this problem to the Council:

“I have tried to report the noise every time a vehicle drives over the drain cover outside Lord’s. The clinking noise is loud and dreadful especially when the window and balcony door is open. This needs to be sorted as soon as possible.”

Abercorn Place

We have asked the Council to fix this problem:

“On the T-junction of Abercorn Place opposite Wellesley Court is a loose manhole cover. Each time a automobile drives over it the noise is annoying and loose. Can it become secure?

 

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – March 2016

Townshend Estate

We have reported an unauthorised parked motorbike in the cycle parking area and asked the Estate Office to investigate unauthorized parking in the area near Cotman House.

Circus Road

We have asked the Council to investigate whether a disabled parking bay on Circus Road is still required as residents say that it does not appear to have been used for the past five years. The Council says:

“The removal of this bay has been on the list for our contractor to do for some time now.  Following your email we have now flagged this up as urgent and the disabled element of the bay should now be removed within the next few weeks.”

Acacia Road/Ordnance Hill

We asked the Council to inspect a cracked wall at a property at this location to check that it was safe. The Council told us:

“I inspected this wall a couple of weeks ago and note it is not immediately dangerous although defective. It has at some point been rebuilt and is likely affected by the adjoining tree. There is a survey target on the corner pier which suggests this is being monitored by another surveyor/ structural engineer.”

The Clifton Pub, Clifton Hill

The Clifton Pub in St John’s Wood has potentially new tenants, Robson Brothers Ltd, after a three year closure!! All that is required is the license, which will be the same as the previous one, for a bar and restaurant.

Boundary Road

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“An area of footpath has been barriered off for at least six weeks and possibly nearer eight weeks. I am not sure what work was done originally requiring the barriers but I cannot believe they are now serving any useful purpose – no work has taken place for many weeks. They are in fact causing an obstruction as a parent with a pram would probably just about be able to get past, but I am certain a disabled person in a wheelchair would not be able to pass at all as the path has been narrowed so much. Apart from anything else, at this time of government cutbacks this is also a total waste of resources which I am sure could be better used elsewhere.”

Proposed St John’s Wood cycleway

Transport for London’s public consultation on Cycle Superhighway 11, planned to run from Swiss Cottage, through Regent’s Park, to Portland Place, is under way.

The scheme includes controversial proposals to close gates at the north and south ends of Regent’s Park for much of the day. Residents in the Swiss Cottage and St John’s Wood areas have launched a petition against the proposals which can be signed at:- www.change.org/p/transport-for-london-stop-transport-for-london-s-ill-planned-cycle-superhighway-11-scheme-in-north-london

Residents say:

“Please use your political voice to object to the proposed TFL cycle route which will be a nightmare for residents in your area “

“I was wondering what you are going to do about the very ill thought out cycle super highway 11 and the traffic chaos that will result from it in and around St. John’s Wood.”

St John’s Wood Terrace

We have reported this issue to the Council:

“We have frequently had minicabs parking in Resident bays in St John’s Wood Terrace which prevents us residents from finding parking. They sit there for a considerable amount of time whilst waiting for jobs etc. It is very frustrating. Is there anything that can be done?”

The Council tells us:

“We have tasked the Marshalls with increasing visits and enforcement in this area, as well as gathering information regarding times and vehicle/ company details in order that we can contact the relevant minicab companies. “

Regent’s Park Zoo

We are making enquiries with London Underground about this matter:

“There is very misleading information made on the Bakerloo line trains when they stop at Regent’s Park. The announcements states that ‘passengers should alight here for local buses to ZSL London Zoo’. This statement causes great confusion to many of the visitors hoping to go to London Zoo, for the following reasons.

  • They do not understand what ZSL means. Some think that it is another zoo not the main London Zoo.
  • They do not understand what is meant by ‘local’ buses and may think that this is a different service from the normal buses.
  • However, the most important point is that from Regent’s Park station there are NO buses (local or other) that go to London Zoo. The only bus that goes to the Zoo is the route 274 which only stops a very long way from Regents Park station. (in fact far closer to Baker Street station). 

Maybe the staff from the Bakerloo line should be made to make this journey themselves so that they realise how misleading the announcement is. As visitors to London are so important to the economy of our city, I feel that we should all do as much as possible to make our city as visitor friendly as possible.”

Safety and Security

We have asked the police for an update following this enquiry:

“I was interested to read in the paper this week about a number of lone women (and mothers with young children) being robbed of jewellery in the middle of the day/late afternoon in Notting Hill, Maida Vale and St John’s Wood over the last 6 months. Can you please let me know what is being done about this?  I understand from the articles that the perpetrators are still at large.”

 

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – January 2016

Marlborough Place/Abbey Road

We have asked the Council to repair the many potholes after receiving this message:

“The worst offender is at the intersection of Marlborough Place and Abbey Road. There is a very large pothole at that intersection, which can damage to your car If you are driving across that intersection along Marlborough Place. You have to slow down considerably to traverse the pothole safely! There are also a number of potholes on the block of Marlborough Place between Abbey Road and Hamilton Terrace.”

Lodge Road

We have asked the Council to investigate this problem:

“Lodge Road was recently resurfaced but inadequate attention was given to drainage as, after every even modest rainfall puddles remain at several places on the road, mainly on the south side.  This is not only inconvenient when crossing, but the puddle at the junction with Park Road which can be in excess of 20 metres long, is a particular hazard for passing pedestrians who have to avoid getting drenched from the not inconsiderate amount of traffic coming southwards from the nearby roundabout and turning into Lodge Road.  Can you draw this to the attention of the Highways Department with a view to remedial work being undertaken at all points where necessary”

Lisson Grove/Wharncliffe Gardens

We have reported this issue to the Council:

“When walking up or down the west side of Lisson Grove I invariably see rats on the bridge across the Regent’s Canal between the railings and the pavement and a number of rat holes are clearly visible.  There does not appear to be any evidence of measures being undertaken to eradicate these and perhaps you would ask the relevant department of WCC to take action, please, especially because of the closeness of the Wharncliffe Gardens Estate.”

The Council says:

“This is an issue that we were aware of following routine inspections by our officers.  Rodent activity was identified in this area in late December 2015 and a reactive treatment was subsequently implemented with baiting has been taking place during January 2016.  We have increased the frequency of visits in order to gain control of the infestation. Wharncliffe Gardens itself is currently under a pro-active baiting programme for rats, agreed to and funded by City West Homes.  At this stage the activity appears to be localised to the raised planter over the canal and will shortly be brought under control. “

Elgood House, Wellington Road

We are taking up this issue with City West Homes:

“Despite diligently paying for management services through my charges every month, I am having a great deal of difficulty in getting the St. John’s Wood estate office to take ownership of issues, and to manage them to resolution. I have been asking them to resolve a problem that we had around noisy pipes that I first raised with them in November last year. I have been very patient, and I understand that that the holidays did cause timing disruptions, however, not only has the issue not been resolved, it appears to have worsened”

Empty properties in St John’s Wood

We have asked the Planning Department for an update on the situation at 34 Marlborough Place which has been derelict for over 5 years and at a property at 15 Loudon Road in a similar long standing state of dereliction.  The Council says:

“In respect of 34 Marlborough Place, we have recently refused planning permission for the construction of front, side and rear first floor extensions and installation of rooflights on design grounds. The extensions are far too big,

In respect of 15 Loudoun Road, there is a valid planning permission and listed building consent for the erection of single storey extensions to the front, side and rear, excavation of basement, internal and elevational alterations and new front boundary wall. The applicant has started to discharge a number of the conditions, and we currently have an approval of details application for the Construction Management Plan (CMP), so hopefully works will start shortly if we are satisfied with the CMP.”

Ryder’s Terrace

We are supporting residents who are opposing yet another planning application to build a mega basement at 40 Ryder’s Terrace. Residents say:

“The basement would appear on the face of it to run counter to both the WCC cited guidelines and the proposal put forward in Parliament by our MP, Karen Buck, to curtail such development. The proposed basement runs the entire width of the plot east to west. Moreover, the huge amount of soil that would be extracted all has to be removed via the narrow ramp leading from Blenheim Terrace to Ryder’s Terrace making life a total misery for residents in the immediate vicinity specially bearing in mind that there is very limited space for dumper trucks to turn around. “

Acacia Road/Ordnance Hill

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“There is an empty house on Acacia Road and Ordinance Hill that has a six foot wall that looks dangerous as has cracks which could fall and hurt someone”

Northwick Terrace

We asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“Thames Water fixed a mains leak about ten days ago but left ‘Road Closed’ signs at both ends of Northwick Terrace. Are you able to get them removed?”

The Council says:

“Thames Water have been notified and Section 74 overstay charges are being applied. Thanks for passing this on as we are able to levy charges on the utility for such failings. If you or a resident wish to report signs left behind after works they can drop an email to my team at Permits@westminster.gov.uk

Townshend Estate

Residents on the Townshend Estate tell us that they are concerned about growing anti-social behaviour and drug dealing on the estate. Residents suggest installing CCTV and we have asked City West Homes if this can be considered.

 

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – December 2015

Circus Road/Wellington Road

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“Just by the traffic lights of Circus Road/ Wellington Road there is a red designated parking place outside the hospital.  Could you please ask the Council if this could be re sighted further down the road because more often than not the 187 and 46 cannot get past parked cars waiting at the lights.  This then causes a traffic jam.   With 189 and 139 being diverted recently down this road, it has added to the congestion.”

Blenheim Road

We are supporting residents who are calling for the installation of a speed camera to deter speeding motorists:

“Now that the school year is well underway again I am afraid that the problem of speeding (and increasingly large) vehicles has returned in force to Blenheim Road. This week I watched the same elderly neighbour missed twice by a hair’s breadth by speeding vehicles and as is also sadly common, one of the drivers was clearly using a handset. A permanent camera could capture both offences.  I drive every day and often do the ‘school run’ myself. I do not need to drive or act in this way to transport my children so why should others be allowed to endanger pedestrians and other road users with impunity outside my home?”

Aquila Street

Residents tell us that properties in Aquila Street NW8 have had scaffolding up since last April. We have asked City West Homes what is happening here and when will the works be completed.

The Star public House, St John’s Wood Terrace

The Star pub closed just before ‘Asset of Community Value’ status came into force, and opened as an unauthorised estate agent. Karen Buck MP has been asking for action on this and here is the latest update:

“The City Council has obtained legal advice that supports the Council’s opinion that an A2 estate agent’s office use at the above site would be unauthorised.  However, it appears at present that the property is not being used for any purposes – it currently appears to be a vacant public house.

The City Council has recently been notified by the Planning Inspectorate that an appeal has been lodged by the owner of the property against the non-determination of the certificate of lawfulness application (ref: 15/05273/CLEUD).  A report will be submitted to the Council’s Planning Committee recommending the refusal of that application, seeking confirmation that members would have accepted that recommendation, were the application determined before an appeal was lodged.

The appeal will be dealt with by the Planning Inspectorate through the Public Inquiry process and all interested parties will be formally consulted on the appeal and notified of the Inquiry date(s) once this has been set by the Planning Inspectorate.”

St John’s Wood Barracks – update

The owners say:

Since July, we have been undertaking a soft strip of all the buildings on the site in preparation for demolition. This soft strip, which will be completed later this month, has included the removal of ceilings, floor finishes, partition walls, kitchens, bathrooms and all utility connections.”

Junction of Maida Vale/Carlton Vale/Carlton Hill

The Council has proposed junction safety improvements to improve safety for pedestrians at this busy traffic signal junction, which is outside St George’s secondary school. The traffic signals will be upgraded to include a dedicated all-red pedestrian phase (including pedestrian countdown facilities). This means that whenever a pedestrian push button is activated, all the traffic signals turn to red and a green man is shown, allowing pedestrians to cross.

The physical pedestrian crossing facilities will be improved at the junction by repaving the footways and widening the crossing points. The road will also be resurfaced at the junction.

An assessment on the street lighting undertaken in June 2013 identified that the existing lighting did not conform to current lighting standards and should also be upgraded.

Transport for London has also informed the City Council that two existing red light cameras at this junction will be upgraded in conjunction with this scheme.

The existing right turn ban from Maida Vale north to Carlton Hill is in operation from 7am to 7pm only. This is proposed to change so that the restriction is in operation 24 hours a day.

In all, the proposals include:

  • Upgrade of the traffic signals to include dedicated all red pedestrian phase (where all traffic is held at a red signal whilst pedestrians cross the road);
  • The traffic signals will be upgraded to include for the count-down indicators;
  • Widening the existing crossings;
  • Widening the existing footways around the junction;
  • Upgrade the existing red cameras at the junction;
  • Introduction of advanced stopping lines for cyclists;
  • Amending the existing northbound no right turn ban from Maida Vale into Carlton Hill (currently in operation 7am to 7pm) to be in operation 24 hours a day;
  • Resurfacing the carriageway on the junction;
  • Upgrading the existing highway lighting;

Junction of Finchley Road, Marlborough Place and Queen’s Grove – update

Transport for London has told us:

“Due to the merging of southbound lanes on Finchley Road after the junction, a yellow box would not be the most appropriate measure here. However, based on our observations we have concluded traffic would move through more smoothly if ‘Keep Clear’ road markings were introduced. My officers had advised they will implement new markings within the next three to four months.”

Relocated bus stop between Abercorn Place and Hall Road on Maida Vale‏ – Update

We asked TfL why they did not consult residents about the decision to relocate the bus stop. TfL tell us:

“While we do not carry out consultations for relocating single bus stops, we of course do so for schemes with potentially wider impact on the travelling public.When we move bus stops we are required to notify residents or businesses whose property fronts directly onto the new location. In this case, as there is no direct frontage at the new location, no notification letters were required. Meanwhile, I can assure you that the move was fully approved by Westminster City Council.

Regarding the Countdown sign, I can confirm this will be reinstated once the shelter has been connected to the electricity grid. This is dependent on our contractors who we are chasing regularly.”

Barrow Hill Estate

Karen Buck MP will be meeting the new Chief Executive of City West Homes to discuss residents’ concerns about the ongoing major works programme on Barrow Hill Estate. In order to better understand residents’ concerns Karen sent out a survey to all of the residents asking for their thoughts and comments on the project.

Derelict sites update

We have received the following update from the Council:

42 Carlton Hill: Works have re-commenced on site. A new contractor has been appointed and the Case Officer will be attending the site to establish how things are progressing.
34 Marlborough Place: The general condition of the front boundary wall and the untidy appearance of the land is be rectified. The owner has also confirmed their intention to fully implement the planning permission granted in 2010, which is currently part-implemented, and seek to re-instate the front boundary wall. Should works not have commenced on site to remedy the general condition of the land then legal action will be considered by the Council.
15 Loudoun Road: The developer has confirmed his intention to redevelop the site, and has submitted details to discharge the condition concerning the Construction Management Plan.

St John’s Wood Road buses

We have asked Transport for London to consider this suggestion:

“Instead of both 187/46 buses turning left along Maida Vale when they come out of Clifton Road, and then proceeding up Hall Road towards Circus Road, identical routes here, one of these buses from Clifton Road could go straight over the Edgware Road into St John’s Wood Road; turning left at the top into Wellington Road (opposite the Church where there’s a bus-stop) and then virtually continue their normal route.”

“When I was young the bus that is now the 139/189 ran along St John’s Wood Road to the Church roundabout but at some point it was rerouted through Lisson Grove and Rossmore Road. It would be good to have a St John’s Wood Road service perhaps by diverting the 46, 139, 187 or 189 but the frequencies of buses on the existing routes would need to be maintained.”

Wharncliffe Gardens

Karen Buck MP tells us that it has now been confirmed that the residents on the Wharncliffe Gardens estate will be having new windows fitted as part of their major works programme, following her efforts in trying to make this happen.

Aberdeen Place towpath closure – update

We have asked the Canal and River Trust to let us know the situation:

“The towpath at the top of Aberdeen Place has been closed for months. The official notice, attached to the railings said it was initially closed for energy company works which is understandable, but it has now been closed for two or three months longer than the notice states. Many tourists as well as local people love to pick up the towpath walk after Little Venice and the 250 yards of Aberdeen Place where there is no towpath. “

The Canal & River Trust has told us:

“There has been an oily discharge appearing on the towpath, where it is beneath the bridge that carries Lisson Grove over the canal. We continue to explore with UK Power Networks and National Grid, two companies with installations in the area, but it has proven difficult to establish the source. Our environmental scientists are keeping the situation under review to minimise the impact but until the seepage can be eradicated the towpath here is not safe for pedestrians and cyclists.”

In response, we have asked the Canal & River Trust to put up sign with this information.

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – October 2015

Lodge Road update

We have asked the Road Safety Team to contact this resident who has offered to assist with the Council’s investigations:

“I am sure the traffic planning officers are more than capable, but having driven in the area for over 40 years and living in Lodge Road for many years, I might be able to give a deeper insight on the whole area and its bigger picture? The Lodge Road issue is a much bigger, wider picture than just routine traffic in one street. I would love to help my community and offer my local driver/resident experience to the Council on this issue, if they feel it might assist them.”

Basements

Karen Buck MP’s bill designed to help local planning authorities restrict the size and depth of basement development has had its first reading in the House of Commons. This Bill was introduced to Parliament on 16 September 2015 under the Ten Minute Rule. This allows an MP to make his or her case for a new bill in a speech lasting up to ten minutes. The Basement Excavation (Restriction of Permitted Development) Bill 2015-16 is expected to have its second reading debate on Friday 29 January 2016.

Finchley Road/Queen’s Grove

We have asked the Council to investigate this request:

“Can I ask you please to see if you can have a yellow box painted where one turns right from Finchley road into Queen’s Grove? Too often traffic travelling south inconsiderately blocks the inter section causing tail backs of traffic wishing to turn right and causing congestion for traffic travelling north along Finchley Road.”

St John’s Wood Road

We are taking up this issue with TfL:

“Many elderly local friends wish I would revive my campaign to have a single-decker bus along St John’s Wood Rd from Maida Vale to the Church Roundabout, possibly using the 46 or 187 with a simple ‘detour’ of one of the routes”

Northwick Close

We have reported noisy building works on Saturday afternoon and asked the Council to take action to safeguard residents’ amenity.

Regent’s Park

We have asked The Royal Parks to investigate this issue:

“I walk in Regent’s Park all the time and recently walked in that area of natural vegetation as you enter from Prince Albert Road turn left and walk as if towards the Zoo. I believe the area is called Holford House site or Leaf Yard or Chat enclosure. I came across some rough sleepers surrounded by their bags under a tree so I quickly left the area. This area was designed for greater enjoyment of the park it makes us urbanites think we are in the countryside. I am told they have been there 3 years!!!!!! The police have been told many times.”

The Royal Parks tell us:

“The rough sleepers do not stay overnight in the park. They often use the northern end of Regent’s Park during the day choosing to sit in the sun and dry clothes etc. A particular favourite area is the Holford House meadow. The Police are well aware of the individuals and do move them on from time to time. On most occasions the individuals are not breaking any Park Regulations and if they are being well behaved they are entitled to be in the park. If they are found in the park after park closing they are removed from the park. I understand that they tend to spend the night in a number of locations along the Regent’s Canal away from the park. I will talk to the Wildlife Officer to ensure that he is much clearer in how he communicates with the public. “

Lord’s

Westminster City Council planning committee has approved the latest phase of a £200 million redevelopment of Lord’s cricket ground. The changes will increase capacity to 29,500, with a new stand and 5,200 retractable seats on match days. Two seating areas, the Allen Stand built in 1935, and the Sixties-era Tavern Stand will be demolished and rebuilt.

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – September 2015

St John’s Wood High Street area – cleaning

We are taking up this issue with the Council

“St John’s Wood is an affluent busy commercial and highly populated area with hoards of customers sitting on public pavements daily. At no point have street cleansing put into place a strategy to cope with this and it is not acceptable to walk over filthy pavements anymore. There is no excuse for commercial businesses along stretch of Circus Road from Cochrane Street end right through to St John’s Wood High St to be disregarded re hygiene. Let Starbucks, Gails, Richoux pay for pavements to be hosed weekly as their customer mess this pavement with coffee cigarettes foods. Commercial businesses in this area are abusing our public pavements and residents are suffering!”

Garden Waste collection

We have raised this issue with the Council:

“I would like to raise the issue of the disposal of Garden rubbish which currently has to go into the general collection. I am aware of the influence of cuts but many parts of Westminster have considerable amounts of Green Waste. Can anything be done to make better use of this?”

The Council say:

“The Garden Waste Collection Service was cancelled in 2010 – primarily due to very low levels of participation by local residents. There are no proposals to reintroduce this service and instead we encourage residents to compost their food and garden waste at home. Further details can be found at https://www.westminster.gov.uk/composting-your-food-waste”

Hamilton Terrace and Abercorn Place junction – what you say

“My children make the crossing every day at the junction of Hamilton Terrace and Abercorn. Pedestrians never have the right of way. There are plenty of young men in very expensive cars who seem to want to run them down. The enormous Abercorn bus is a nuisance too. There should be a pedestrian crossing there. “

“I’d like to echo the feelings of those who wrote in to you last month regarding adding a pedestrian signal at corner of Abercorn Place and Hamilton Terrace. I heartily agree with this idea!”

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – August 2015

The Clifton Pub, Clifton Hill

thecliftonThe Planning Committee has refused permission for change of use to residential, as recommended by the Planning Officers. One of the important issues was that the owners had submitted marketing information which showed that the pub had been marketed for a rent about twice what would be reasonable, and the owners had also removed all the internal fittings which would be needed to reopen it. There were 173 letters opposing the loss of the pub, and 14 in favour – almost all the latter were from near neighbours who said it had been badly managed when open.

St Edmund’s Terrace

We are supporting residents who are opposing further development proposals in St Edmund’s Terrace. They say:

“It is proposed to demolish three houses that were built about 40 years ago, are in good condition, are well constructed, attractive and enhance the area. To destroy them would be an act of vandalism. Their replacement by nine flats might not increase available properties in Westminster, primarily as they will be in the more highly priced property range which seem to be particularly attractive to overseas buyers who often only use them for occasional use”

Hamilton Terrace/Abercorn Place

We have asked the Road Safety Team to investigate this issue:

“Could you please speak to the Council regarding installing a pedestrian walk signal, and a camera at the lights on the corner of Hamilton Terrace and Abercorn Place? There are a large number of schools in the area (ASL, QK, Abercorn etc) and many children walk to school through this junction – something we should be encouraging. Hamilton Terrace is increasingly being used as a rat run especially by the enormous red buses from Abercorn School, carrying tiny children to their other location, which turn left onto Hamilton Terrace not waiting for small children crossing and thundering down the road (despite the fact that large vehicles are prohibited on Hamilton Terrace). In addition, as there is no camera installed at the junction, there are numerous cars who shoot through red lights at high speeds. It is just a matter of time before there is a child killed at this junction – can something be done before that happens, please?”

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – July 2015

Boundary Road

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“Some years ago traffic management measures were introduced between Loudoun Road and Abbey Road to slow the traffic (after a local consultation). However, the raised roadway is split and by driving between the raised areas allows vehicles to travel at whatever speed they choose, thereby making the traffic calming measures ineffective. I have noticed recently that vehicles and cars in particularly are travelling up and down Boundary Road at high speed, with estates on both the Camden and Westminster side of the road with large numbers of children living there and with parked cars on both sides restricting vision it can only be a matter of time before there is a tragic accident. I wonder if you can speak with the police to get some enforcement action, or perhaps better traffic calming measures which cannot be by-passed.”

Hamilton Terrace and St John’s Wood Road‏ junction

We are taking this issue up with Road Safety Team:

“Some time ago I raised the dangers to pedestrians wanting to cross Hamilton Terrace when walking along St John’s Wood road down the hill towards the traffic lights at the St John’s Wood Road junction with the Edgware Road. There is a pedestrian crossing over St John’s Wood Road but none over Hamilton Terrace. There is no real problem for pedestrians wanting to cross over the first part of the road coming from the direction of Lords as visibility is good and vehicles coming along Hamilton Terrace have to slow down before turning into St John’s Wood Road either towards Lords or towards the Edgware Road. The danger arises on the second or other part of the crossing nearer to Edgware Road. Vehicles coming up from Edgware Road turn into Hamilton Terrace and it is not easy for pedestrians to spot vehicles some of which fail to signal a left turn. A largish number of vehicles especially at rush hours, turn right into Hamilton Terrace coming along St John’s Wood Road from the direction of Lords using Hamilton Terrace as a ‘rat-run’. The dangers would be reduced if a zebra crossing were to be placed across the end of Hamilton Terrace at the junction with St John’s Wood Road”.

Marlborough Place

Karen Buck MP is taking up this issue with the Council:

“Marlborough Place is a very busy cut through between Hamilton Terrace, Abbey Road and Wellington Road. Unlike other similar cut through in the area, it has no traffic calming features. Consequently it has become a very popular “rat run”. Despite it being a residential road, vehicles regularly drive through at very high speeds both in and out of the rush hour. It is dangerous for pedestrians crossing the road and for drivers trying to drive in or out of their driveways. Most driveways are relatively narrow and Residents Parking spaces and single yellow lines can come right up to the edge of the driveway entrances making visibility regarding passing traffic and pedestrians very limited. The speed of passing vehicles makes coming, going and crossing very dangerous.”

Blenheim Road

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“Blenheim Road is one of the few residential streets in the vicinity without speed humps and everyone from school run drivers to taxis and minicabs is now taking advantage of that to speed down our street. There is a generational change underway as more families have moved in while other older residents still remain and so the risk to pedestrians is growing exponentially. Some people oppose any change to the area but the priority must now be safety, can you please help?”

The Council has told us that the Police are to commission a two week speed camera survey using a small temporary camera.

Nugent Terrace/Abercorn Place junction

The Council has agreed with residents’ suggestion that double yellow lines are needed to prevent cars coming out of Nugent Terrace at the weekend being hit due to blocked sightlines resulting from people parking on the single yellow line on Abercorn Place. We are now awaiting a date for this to be implemented.

Lisson Grove/Lodge Road junction

We have again asked the Council to deal with this long-standing issue:

“The reflective Bollard at this junction has been hit yet again. This is the fourth or fifth time in 12 months. It’s only a matter time before there is a serious accident here. What is the council waiting for?

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – June 2015

Lodge Road

We have asked the Council to investigate this road safety issue:

“The main problem is – because Lodge Road is long and straight- people speed like lunatics along it. Their speed is curtailed at points because it also gets congested at various spots where it narrows due to parking on both sides. If the drivers are not speeding then they are engaged road rage. It’s also a busy road with lots of pedestrians crossing at the Regent’s Park end going to the hotel. At the Lisson Grove end there is the church and church hall busy with folk and, moreover, children going to clubs and lessons.

Yesterday at the church end as children were using the church hall to my absolute horror a motorbike doing about 40 miles an hour or thereabouts came roaring along the pavement to avoid the bottleneck that had formed at the Lisson Grove end. Had any child opened the door and stepped out onto the pavement at that moment there would have been a fatality. I was incandescent but powerless. Is there any cctv on this road? That idiot needs to be caught.”

41 Abbey Road

We are pleased that the planning application for the conversion of the former long-empty and derelict care home at 41 Abbey Road into 7 flats was approved by the Planning Applications Committee on 2 June 2015. We liaised closely with local residents to support this proposal.

Tesco, Circus Road

We are continuing to chase up this long-standing issue:

“Tesco’s delivery lorries at St Johns Wood have become a nightmare. I am sure that the Council are doing everything in their powers to solve this problem. Let me assure you that the lorries are there after 10 a.m. in the mornings, blocking up all the spaces. Furthermore at many times there is a second delivery lining up outside the Post Office, also waiting to deliver. This has got to stop. They must leave at 8.30 a.m. as arranged with the Council, not at 10 a.m. I am over 95 years of age, and cannot park as those valuable spaces are used by lorries still delivering at 10 a.m. Please do something.”

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – May 2015

the-star-st-johns-wood

The Star public house – latest update

The Planning Officer investigating the current situation at The Star public house in St John’s Wood Terrace says that, after considering all of the evidence available, the planners are of the opinion that a material change of use requiring planning permission has taken place at the site.

The planners have written to the freeholder and the tenant requesting that the pub ceases to be used other than a public house within 28 days, otherwise formal action will be considered.

The Council cannot force the owner to open as a pub, but only a pub use will be lawful. If the owners fail to cease using the building other than as a public house, and if an enforcement notice is served, the owner will have a right of appeal.

We will keep you posted on any further news we hear.

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – April 2015

Junction of Lisson Grove and Lodge Road

Lisson Grove bollard
We have reported this issue to the Council:

“The traffic bollards at the junction of Lisson Grove and Lodge Road are destroyed, on average, once every three/four months. They are currently broken. I have hit the traffic island at night when there was no illuminated bollard (it having been destroyed by a collision) resulting in several thousands of pounds of damage to my wheels, tyres, axle, shock absorbers. Luckily I was able to maintain control of the car but it is only a matter of time before a very serious incident takes place here.”

Circus Road Tesco

We have reported this long-running issue to the Council for action:

“Tesco are still delivering late at their St John’s Wood Branch. Their lorries are still there past 9 a.m., taking up all the small number of parking spaces. I understand that they were to be clear of those valuable spaces by 8 to 8.30 a.m. Can this be taken up with Tesco?

Marlborough Place

We have advised residents to write an objection to the Council after receiving this message:

“We have been notified about a planning application in Marlborough Place. This is a house which was only built a few years ago and recently sold. The new buyers wish to convert the garage into a habitable room and excavate the basement. One wonders why they bought this house if it was too small to start with! BUT the problem with this application is that our building is next door to them and our parking lot already has flooding when it rains a lot with rising water that comes through the concrete floor and walls as it is very close to the water table level already. Digging out a basement next door certainly is not going to help this and they will disturb it even more. They will also have flooding problem themselves if they are allowed to go ahead.”

Potholes in Hill Road

We have chased up the Council again about this long-standing problem:

“The day after your visit in January, white paint marks appeared around several of the 3 inch deep pot holes in Hill Road but nothing has been done to repair these? When can we expect some action?”

Junction of Nugent Terrace and Abercorn Place

We have again reported this issue to the Council:

“I am particularly concerned about the situation of the junction of Nugent Terrace and Abercorn Place, about which other people have commented in your newsletter. When can we expect some double yellow lines to be placed on Abercorn Place to the left of Nugent Terrace so that, at the weekend, it is possible to pull out safely from this junction without risking a side impact collision with cars racing down Abercorn Place?”

The Clifton pub – what you say

“Clearly the buyer has no intentions if renting it as a pub and wants to build a house. In fact he has not done his numbers as a pub but as a redevelopment. A building of such historic significance and local amenity should never be allowed to be converted. The pub was always full of people!!!”

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – March 2015

the-star-st-johns-wood

Urgent action needed to protect The Star in St John’s Wood

Along with Karen Buck MP, we are making urgent enquiries with Westminster Council about building work at The Star in St John’s Wood after receiving this message from a local resident:

“As I am sure you know the 200 year old Star Pub in St. John’s Wood Terrace was given protection status by Westminster Council. Here is the Wood & Vale report on the confirmation:

http://www.hamhigh.co.uk/news/heritage/two_westminster_pubs_given_legal_protection_1_3962482

On Friday the 20th March 2015, the pub was opened as normal. The staff arrived the next day to find they did not have a job as the pub was being stripped out by builders and according to the builders is being converted to an estate agents with flats above. As if St John’s Wood needs another estate agent outlet. Using the building as anything but a pub is totally against the Westminster Council protection order.

This needs urgent political action before the premises are let, which will make matters more difficult to resolve, as another social necessity in St John’s Wood looks like being lost forever.”

Violet Hill Gardens

We are making enquiries about this issue:

“Please would you discover Westminster Council’s plans for these gardens. At present there is a park keeper present for all the hours the garden is open. I understand that from the end of March it is intended that a keeper would only be present to open and close the gates leaving the garden and playground otherwise unattended. If this is right, how will the garden be maintained? The garden and the playground are a much valued local amenity and it would be most regrettable if they were allowed to deteriorate or at worst sold off to greedy property developers.”

Dale House, Boundary Road

We reported this issue to City West Homes;

“Please note that the light on the stairwell leading to 31-36 Dale House is not working”

The Clifton pub – what you say

“This was purchased some while ago by an investor and due to local people objecting planning to build a private house was withheld for a year so that a tenant could be sought in order to keep it as a local amenity. I am aware that an experienced local tenant applied but to no avail apparently. It would be a shame to see another large and probably empty house appear bearing in mind that the Clifton has been a pub for many, many years.”

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – FEBRUARY 2015

Wellington Road Estate

On behalf of residents of Elgood House on the Wellington Road estate we contacted City West Homes about a disputed parking ticket from CWH’s private parking contractors. CWH has agreed to cancel the parking ticket and refund the parking fine.

Bronwen Court

Karen Buck MP continues to receive complaints from concerned residents and leaseholders from Bronwen Court about several issues, ranging from concerns about the recent burglaries in the block, the quality of major works, the costs and the lack of flexibility with regards to payment schedules for the two sets of major works. After several months of chasing, CityWest Homes have finally said that they are willing to consider residents on a case by case basis for the payment of the major works bills, but have failed to elaborate any detail regarding this.

Carlton Hill

It has been more than half a year since Karen Buck MP first contacted CityWest Homes on behalf of concerned leaseholders at Carlton Hill about the severely delayed major works, as well as other concerns, but no response has been forthcoming! Karen has registered a formal complaint to Mr Ben Denton, Strategic Director for Housing and Regeneration, about the wholly unacceptable delay in responding to these complaints.

Karen BuckReport to the St John’s Wood Society from Karen Buck MP

As always, it is a pleasure to write a piece for the St John’s Wood Society on some of the policy issues occupying my time and attention. The Society continues to do splendid work defending the unique built environment of the area, as well as championing the interests of this diverse community. Specifically, the hard-working Planning Committee handles a huge workload with aplomb, despite the scale (St John’s Wood Barracks, Lords) and the frequently controversial nature (basements) of the issues that members must deal with. St John’s Wood is fortunate indeed to have such defenders.

Crime and policing

The continuation of the now 20-year long decline in overall crime is extremely welcome, but it inevitably conceals lots of variations- both in types of crime and between areas. Last year’s crime figures for Westminster, for example, show another fall in total crime on the year, including burglary and robbery, but a sharp rise in violent crime, which rose from 7,019 offences in 2013 to 8,541 in 2014. This particular type of crime remains rare, and St John’s Wood is safer than many other areas, but nonetheless there was a rise from 7.3 violent crimes per 1000 in 2013 to 9.7 per 1000 in 2014 in Abbey Road, and from 10.1 to 14.7 per 1000 in Regent’s Park, so there can be no complacency.

Meanwhile, I was very disappointed to hear that the Paddington Green custody suite has been closed, since this means that when the police make an arrest they have to take the suspect right across the Borough (usually to Belgravia) for processing- greatly adding to the time they are off the streets in north Westminster. The pressure on staffing levels remains acute- I previously reported that we lost almost one-third of our total police strength in Westminster between 2011 and last year. All of these facts suggest that we should not be looking at further reductions in policing next year.

Basements

The process of tightening up on planning guidance is still underway, with Kensington and Chelsea being in the front line of Councils adopting new rules (K+C councillors voted on these in mid-January). Whilst Westminster has interim guidance in place this is not actually new policy – it reflects current practice by putting all the standards into one document. On the plus side, Westminster is starting to win appeals against applications the Council wishes to reject, but there is some concern that the response to last year’s consultation remains unpublished, and I know residents are still very anxious to see tougher restrictions coming in as soon as possible.

Impact of the de-regulation of rules on residential short/holiday lets

I was grateful to all those residents who responded to my survey about the impact of the growing ‘short-term let’ industry on residential communities. Drawing from their comments – which were overwhelmingly negative about further re-regulation- I initiated a debate in Parliament in order to try and convince the government not to go ahead with further loosening of the rules. In addition to all the concerns about the consequences for residents- such as increased levels of noise nuisance, rubbish, minor damage and greater insecurity- I raised the fact that in Westminster some 3000 properties have already been turned over to the hospitality industry, reducing the number of homes available for people who actually need somewhere to live. Of course no-one wants to prevent owners doing a holiday home-swap or something similar but with visitor numbers to London continuing to soar, and owners able to charge far more for short lets than ordinary rentals, there is a real danger that parts of central London will be under increasing pressure and lose their character as places where people actually live. Camden, for example, has recorded a leap in the number of properties advertised in short-let websites since the government introduced the De-regulation Bill.

The local NHS

Pressure has been building on the London NHS in recent weeks, and our local hospital, St Mary’s, was criticised by the Care Quality Commission in their inspection report at Christmas. Overall, the Imperial Trust was found to ‘require improvement’, but the Accident and Emergency service at St Mary’s was found to be inadequate, as was the Outpatients service. (The A+E was uprated to ‘requiring improvement’ in the week of writing). St Mary’s has also fallen below required performance standards for treating patients in Accident and Emergency, and senior managers tell me that at any one time, they have the equivalent of a ward of patients they cannot discharge home because there is not enough support for them in the community. Speaking in Parliament on this issue last month, I asked the Secretary of State why the government has been closing Accident and Emergency units (such as Hammersmith and Central Middlesex, which closed last autumn) in the middle of an A+E crisis.

Leasehold concerns

I have held two advice sessions for private and council leaseholders in recent months, with expert input from lawyers working for LEASE. Many leaseholders from private blocks in St John’s Wood, as well as CWH leaseholders from Carlton Hill, Bronwen Court and Wharncliffe Gardens came along to ask questions about issues ranging from how to ensure financial transparency from Managing Agents, the best way to take a case to the LVT, service charges and Major Works. Although these sessions have been useful to those attending, they flagged up how disempowered many leaseholders feel when dealing with their freeholders/Managing Agents, including, unfortunately, City West Homes.

On the subject of tenure, it is fascinating to note that the growth of the private rented sector in Britain has had a real effect locally. During the last census period, the % of properties rented privately rose from 36% to 45% in Abbey Road, and from 34% to 42% in Regent’s Park, and there is no reason to think it hasn’t grown further since then. Although a healthy private rented sector is a good thing, a decline in the proportion of long-term residents does have an impact, and can make it harder to build community institutions. Whilst many private tenants are satisfied with their property, it is also true that the PRS is over-represented when it comes to problems, too- ranging from poor energy efficiency to excessive letting agency charges, so it is important to have the right powers and capacity to deal with downsides.

Please do continue to raise your concerns with me, and I will always do my best to respond. I look forward to continuing to work with the Society in future.

Karen Buck MP

New threat to the Clifton pub

theclifton
The Clifton pub in Clifton Road, St John’s Wood, is under renewed threat. The new owner of the pub wants to turn this popular and much-loved local pub into a house and has submitted a planning application to Westminster Council. You can see the plans and give your views on line.

http://idoxpa.westminster.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=NH1OQLRPI8Z00

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – January 2015

Crossroads of Hamilton Terrace and Abercorn Road

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“There are huge potholes and spilt concrete all over the road as you approach this junction from Maida Vale. The pothole at the junction itself is now some 3″ to 4″ deep and over 2 ft long. Also the concrete companies whose lorries regularly spill concrete at this steep junction from the rear of their “bottle lorries” should be made to clean up. I have reported a couple of lorries direct to the council with the number plates and never heard anything back about holding these companies to account. They charge their clients £880 per load plus VAT and are well able to afford cleaning up their own waste.”

“I am sure others have notified you of this dangerous crater at the junction of Abercorn Place and Hamilton Terrace. Cars have to swerve to avoid it and it’s getting bigger by the day. From time to time it gets repaired but so ineffectively that it reoccurs so costing the borough/ tax payer more than it should. I would be grateful if you could ask for this to be looked into and resolved.”

We contacted the head of road management at the Council and he says that they are aware of the situation and a job had been raised to permanently repair the road a few weeks ago. There were some issues and this didn’t get done, so he followed it up and will reorder the works. A make safe was completed at the weekend in order to tide it over until the full repair.

Abbey Road/Belgrave Gardens – what you say

“I endorse this complaint. Yesterday I could easily been knocked off my bike as I could not see what traffic was travelling north in Abbey Road. I was coming out of Belgrave Mansions and parked vans and cars blocked the view.”

Basement developments – what you say

“We can’t emphasise enough how the horrendous build of basements and swimming pools needs property legislation. We need to set up an online petition and get many, many signatures to stop this continuing. We have in Marlborough Place an enormous project major works for the last 18 months!! The constant drilling affects the foundation of surrounding houses.!! This work is far from complete and the planning permission is given far too easily. This has to stop! We feel for all of you who are being subjected to this where you live.”

“Living on Hamilton Terrace for over thirty years, we have remarked a notable increase in recent years in both the rate and scale of massive developments on the road, which include huge basement excavations. We find it unacceptable that such huge scale work is permitted to be carried out in a Conservation Area. Furthermore, it is worrying that huge basements are being carved out in areas where there are subterranean water systems and where there is likely to be a detrimental impact on terrain and properties. Finally, being surrounded by huge scale construction means that there is constant noise, dust and lorry traffic in an area which used to be renowned for its serenity. “

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – December 2014

Northwick Close

We have alerted the Council to this issue:

“Our street light at the bottom of the cul de sac end has been out of service all week. Could it be fixed?”

Hamilton Terrace/St John’s Wood Road junction

We have asked the Council to investigate this suggestion:

“I have frequently had to step back to avoid an accident as vehicles from St John’s Wood Road swerve into Hamilton Terrace frequently without indicating. There is a pedestrian crossing over St John’s Wood Road. It may be argued that it is unusual to have two zebras so close together, but the position at Hamilton Close/St John’s Wood Road is similar to that by Warwick Avenue where there are two crossings at right angles.”

Scott Ellis Gardens and Hamilton Close

We are making enquiries about this issue:

“A major part of the fairly tall boundary wall between Scott Ellis Gardens and Hamilton Close fell down in the storms at the end of January 2013. City West Homes who are responsible for the blocks of flats bounding Scott Ellis accepted responsibility for repairing the wall and collected the old bricks together. At first they put up a temporary wire barrier, but this proved most unsatisfactory. Eventually a wooden fence was erected. This has ensured that Hamilton Close is not used as a short cut into Scott Ellis, but it is not a long-term solution. I was led to believe that rebuilding work would start in November but my latest information is that the work is ‘on hold’ pending discussions with Westminster Council. The wall was built in Victorian Times and lacks modern foundations. Part of the remaining wall is displaying damp and one section is bulging as a result of a tree. Please can you please press for rebuilding to begin soon? It is now a year since the storm.”

Abbey Road

We contacted the Council about this problem:

“Can anything be done about the minicabs and drivers who park on the double yellow lines in Abbey Road at the corner of Belgrave Gardens to sit in the café or pretend to be loading by putting their boot lids up thereby obstructing visibility for pedestrians and traffic exiting from Belgrave Gardens and restricting the traffic flow along Abbey Road which is also a bus route? This needs urgent attention before a serious accident occurs.”

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – November 2014

Bronwen Court, Grove End Road

Bronwen Court

We have contacted City West Homes after residents expressed their concerns about many aspects of the major works currently being carried out there. These included the cost to lessees, standard of workmanship, length of time being taken to carry out the work and security issues. Nick Luder of the St John’s Wood Labour Action Team reports:

“Standard of Work: In the view of residents the standard of the major works being carried out left much to be desired (putting it mildly). We were invited to enter flats and were shown examples of the lack of adequate repair work on the windows etc.. The impression given on entering the buildings and mounting the staircases is hardly that of a competent contractor.

Cost: Lessees considered the cost to be extremely excessive and figures quoted to us certainly gave that impression.

Security: Residents feel there should be an immediate independent security audit of the buildings by the appropriate crime prevention authority in conjunction with CityWest Homes.”

St John’s Wood station area – what you say

“I have no doubt that for many motorists their determination to get somewhere, even to the next red light, as fast as possible, trumps road safety and observing the rules of the road. Westminster Council can’t change the culture, but it can take steps to curb some behaviours and to make the roads and pavements a bit safer for others. Restricting parking around John and Lizzie’s is a very good idea. I suspect that another zebra crossing in Grove End Road might be counter-productive and lead even more motorists to tear down the road and ignore pedestrians at the crossings at the junction with Abbey Road. As it is, it is obvious that lots of drivers have no intention of stopping for pedestrians at the crossing, at least until they are aware that the pedestrians are looking them in the eye.”

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – October 2014

Dora House

In recent weeks Karen Buck MP has been contacted by dozens of Dora House residents with their thoughts about the imminent Dora House demolition and refurbishment. In response to the concernsKaren contacted landlord Central & Cecil and Westminster City Council to raise these with them. Many residents also wanted to meet Karen to discuss their thoughts in person, and so she arranged to meet with residents and Central & Cecil on Friday 24 October. The meeting was a chance for residents to discuss their concerns with Karen and to have their questions answered by Central & Cecil.

Aquila Street

At the request of residents in flats in Aquila Street we have spoken to City West Homes about the dangerous state of the common parts. CWH have confirmed that carpets that have been identified to be in disrepair or a hazard are due to be replaced very soon.

Cochrane Street

We have asked the Council to check whether the street lighting is adequate, following concerns expressed by residents.

Abercorn Place

We have asked the Council to investigate reports of speeding traffic along Abercorn Place.

St John’s Wood station/Circus Road area.

We are making further enquiries about the following;

• The need for a zebra crossing opposite St Johns and Elizabeth or at the least clear the parking opposite the hospital so the sight lines for approaching traffic are improved.
• The poor state of the garden area outside St John’s Wood station
• The timing of the pedestrian crossing outside St John’s Wood station
• The drainage on the west side opposite St John’s Wood Tube where there is a muddy lake and people have to stand well back to avoid drenching by traffic.

Clifton Pub, Clifton Hill

theclifton

We are concerned and the continued closure of the Clifton Pub. The Council’s Planning Officers tell us;

“Whilst press reports earlier in the year indicated that the new owner intended to let the premises again as a public house it has not re-opened as such and is currently vacant with estate agents’ advertising boards on the premises which indicate that the property is being marketed. Its current condition appears to be acceptable and there are no obvious grounds for planning enforcement intervention in this respect. There have been no formal planning applications to date but it does seem likely that applications for alternative use may come forward and residential, or possibly a form of bar/restaurant use, are most likely to be proposed. The current marketing exercise may be underway to demonstrate demand for/viability of the current pub use. We are aware of local sensitivity to the issue and any planning application would be the subject to notification of neighbours, amenity society, local Ward Members etc.”

Lodge Road/Park Road junction

We have asked the Council to investigate these two issues;

• In the pavement at the northern side of the junction there are dangerous potholes adjacent to Thames Water service covers
• In the road and on the pavement at the southern end of the junction a very large puddle always forms after major rainfall

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – September 2014

Abercorn Place

We have reported a number of sites where builders had started work before 8am and action was taken by the Noise Team to get the builders to abide by the regulations.

Eamont Street

We have reported incidents of rubbish being left and uncollected in Eamont Street near the junction with Allitsen Road, following enquiries by residents.

Prince Albert Road

We have asked the Council to investigate this problem;

“Exiting by car from North Gate block has become extremely perilous and the residents of North Gate would like to do something to improve the situation. The problem is caused by two factors: (a) The large number of vehicles parked (legally) on the North Gate side (opposite side to Regents Park), (b) The concave bend in the road at this point and (c) Vehicles accelerating and speeding once they enter Prince Albert Road from the Lord’s roundabout. As a result of these factors it is usually necessary to creep forward beyond the line of parked cars in order to see whether any traffic is approaching from the Lord’s roundabout direction. The manoeuvre is particularly difficult for the relatively large number of older people residing at North Gate. I believe North Gate would, if given permission, be willing at their expense to place mirrors on the park side in order to assist people exiting.”

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – AUGUST 2014

Clifton Hill

We are making enquiries with the Council about these two issues;

“Do they intend to do anything about the dreadful state of the pavement in the section of Clifton Hill between Abbey Road and Greville Road and the disaster which is pending outside 68 Carlton Hill?, a house newly decorated and the most awful mess of the pavement. Can you chase up what’s happening to 104 Clifton Hill? It’s been in an unfinished state for many years.”

Wells Rise

We have contacted Thames Water about this issue;

“There is a water leak and ground subsidence at the corner of Wells Rise and St. Edmunds Terrace NW8. Despite repeated calls to Thames Water no action seems to be being taken.”

We have also made enquiries about this issue;

“For about two years, when construction of the development of the flats at the top of St Edmund’s Terrace started, the residents of Wells Rise have experienced a constant stream of very big lorries, danger from the traffic, inconvenience, disruption, reduction in parking spaces, noise, dirt and pollution. This was compounded significantly when work started on Barrow Hill in May 2013. Wells Rise has moved from a quiet and pleasant road to an abomination filled with dirt and potholes, with water leaks as well. So far we have not heard from Thames Water or the developers of the flats, as to how much compensation the residents of the houses in Wells Rise will receive. I expect this to be substantial as well as re-painting all of the houses as they have become very dirty as a result of the constant passage of lorries up and down the road.”

Pavement on the corner of Park Road and Clarence Gate‏

We were contacted by someone who tripped on a raised paving stone with a sharp corner close to the bike hire stand and man hole cover. We have asked for this to be investigated and repaired.

187 bus – what you say

“A definite yes PLEASE to a bus or the 187 running along St. John’s Wood Road”

“I would like to ask that the 187 bus route is NOT changed. I use this bus regularly and its route from Maida Vale is a good, direct one.”

“I did not know that the bus even went down St John’s Wood Road. I use it frequently from Hall Road. Would not like to see a change in route.”

“In the stretch of Circus Road between Grove End Road and Wellington Road there are two bus stops very close to each other, (for the 187 going to the O2 Centre) both near the Wellington Road end. The one before is a long way away, right up the hill in Hall Road. Is it possible to move the one between that closest to Wellington Road and the one up the Hill in Hall Road closer to the junction of Hall/Circus Roads and Grove End Road? Going the other way, there is one in Hall Road very close to this junction, why not put it opposite? Or just across Grove End Road, outside South Lodge? There is plenty of room at both points and it would save people in Abbey Road wanting to make the journey walking an unnecessary extra 100 yards or so to the stop and finding there’s another one about 30 yards further on.”

“I note on your newsletter that someone is suggesting that the 187 bus is re-routed down St Johns Wood Road as there elderly residents live they. Elderly residents also live down Circus Road/Hall Road so by moving the route someone, somewhere along the line will suffer. Simple solution, every alternate bus on the 187 route goes down St Johns Wood Road, that would mean 2 an hour down that road and 2 an hour down Circus Road keeping everyone happy.”

“Many of us elderly residents in the Hall Road, Grove End Road, and surrounds also use the 187 bus and are glad of its route via Circus Road and Hall Road”

Abbey Road Beatles crossing – what you say

beatles zebra

“Regarding the Beatles crossing why not put traffic lights a little way before and after the crossing this would give traffic and fans doing photos both time and safety, at the moment it’s pot luck for everyone.”

“One way of making it a lot safer for the general public and tourists alike would be if a limit could be allowed to the size of the ‘Beatles Walk’ guided tour. These walks are often 70-80 strong and terminate at either the studios or the zebra. This is far too many people for one group and they cannot be passed on the pavement, one has to walk in Abbey road itself to get around them. Can’t the tour be split into smaller groups of about 20/25 people? That’s ample for pavements of this size. The tours are so big now that a lot of the punters can’t hear him properly and often shoving and jockeying for positions in the group take place, with people again spilling into Abbey Rd or getting angry if locals try to go through them.”

“I would also love to see the back of the more recent outfit who set themselves up as ‘official photographers’ at the crossing, wearing high viz jackets. These idiots form the tourists into queues in a direct line facing the zebra, and if you try to go through the line the tourists think you are queue jumping or trying to get into their photos! The photographers think nothing of waving the traffic on even when people are in the middle of the road trying to cross it. Surely the council can get rid of them?”

“The poles have been cleaned/replaced and the beacons are now working properly. This is the only listed crossing in the country and it is only right and proper that it is kept in a tip top condition. Thanks for your help in getting this sorted which will no doubt be appreciated by the thousands who visit it every week. In respect of the council’s idea to put a lollipop lady on the crossing I don’t think tourists will appreciate having a lollipop lady in their pictures as there certainly wasn’t one on the Beatles cover!”

Residents reject plans for ‘white monolith’ in Ryder’s Terrace, St John’s Wood

The ‘Wood & Vae’ reports;

Residents are opposing revised plans to transform a St John’s Wood home into a “hideous white faced monolith”.

The owners of a property in Ryder’s Terrace are seeking permission to turn it into a limestone-clad five bedroom home, with a two-storey basement and space for a gym, swimming pool, games room and cinema.

But residents, who successfully saw off a similar bid in 2013, are fighting the proposal and fear that its scale will have an “overpowering and damaging” impact.

Last year, the owners withdrew a planning application after Westminster Council raised concerns about the height and scale of the development, which the new proposal has sought to address by scrapping plans to have bedrooms on a second floor.

Christine Cowdray, St John’s Wood Society planning spokeswoman, said: “We’ve objected on the grounds that it represents significant overdevelopment on the site and it will have an overpowering and damaging impact on Blenheim Passage and neighbours.

“We’ve objected to the unsustainability of the basement and we’ve raised significant concerns about the construction of such a large building and basement given the restricted access to the site.”

The planning application says the 1960s house, located in a conservation area, is “unsightly” and the new design is “contemporary yet contextually sensitive”.

It adds: “Careful consideration has been given in the development of the design to ensure there is little or no impact on the amenity of the nearby residents or occupiers in terms of sunlight, daylight and privacy.”

Resident Patrick Matthiesen described the design as a “hideous white faced monolith”, adding in his letter of objection: “It is quite clear that the sheer mass of this structure and the extent of the excavations for a two-level basement are wholly inappropriate and I for one must object in strenuous terms that it will impact on my property and decrease its value and the value of the related amenities.”

To comment visit Westminster’s website with ref 14/06107/FULL.

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – JULY 2014

Wharncliffe Gardens Major Works

Karen Buck MP has met with the Wharncliffe Residents’ Association to discuss residents’ concerns about the timetabling of the scheduled major works. She is supporting residents in pressing CityWest Homes to move quickly with providing advice on payment options and hardship schemes.

Abercorn Place

We have asked the Council to investigate this matter;

“There is a numbered disabled permit holder’s only bay outside 29 Abercorn Place NW8 that has not been used for over a year. Surely the council should monitor these bays. I suspect the person who needed it has long since gone and the bay should go back to residents permit bays”

Abbey Road

We have asked the Council to do the necessary repairs after receiving this message;

“The Beatles crossing is the most famous and photographed in the world but it is also the most shabby. The road markings are eroded, the poles are all worn and the beacons are dirty and one hasn’t been working properly for many weeks. Would the council consider cleaning it up and thereafter keeping an eye on it?”

Hamilton Terrace

We are making enquiries after receiving this message;

“I am not sure if you are aware but there has been an increased instance of violent mugging and burglary recently in and around Hamilton Terrace. In discussions with the Police, whilst they were gathering evidence, they commented that they had made recommendations to the Council in relation to the installation of CCTV but these recommendations have unfortunately not been acted on. All the Hamilton Terrace residents I have spoken to would welcome extra lighting illuminating the pavement and front gardens. It is very disappointing that the Council have not addressed the concerns of both residents and Police, the consequence of this lack of action means that more residents have suffered horrible injuries that could potentially have been prevented.”

St John’s Wood Underground Station

We have again written to TfL about the garden area after receiving this comment;

“I completely agree with the Resident who commented on the state of St John’s Wood tube station frontage. I have noticed the poor state before, but particularly noticed it yesterday. This is a key point for the area with access to major hospitals, Lords, and the High Street, where shop-owners have set up a Business Group to encourage shoppers to the High Street. Could you please ask Transport for London to address the issue? It is a focal point for visitors and locals and could be glorious.”

Another resident has made the following point;

“I don’t agree about the entrance to St John’s Wood Station – bits of it are like a meadow with lots of pretty wildflowers – some lovely nasturtiums appeared about a month ago. St John’s Wood is full of tidy beds of pelagoniums and petunias – meadows are in short supply.”

Marlborough Place

We have continued our enquiries after receiving this message;

“As a resident of Marlborough Place I am concerned about the lack of progress rebuilding the wall next to the rear entrance to the flats at the corner of Hamilton Terrace. It was mentioned in one of your previous reports. “

The Council says;

“This matter remains under active investigation. We are in dialogue with a planning agent acting on behalf of the owners of the land, Marlborough Lodge. Following issue of warning letters, the refuse and building materials on the land have been removed. The agent has also confirmed that the owners intend to build a new boundary treatment comprising a 1 metre high wall with railings affixed above the wall. These works will require planning permission and a deadline to submit the application of 31 July 2014 has been given. Once an application for planning permission has been submitted and validated, we will notify you.”

Loudon Road

We have made enquiries after receiving this question;

“I would like to know why no. 15 Loudoun Road is such a disgrace to the community.. looks like squatters live there.. any ideas?”

The Council says;

“I understand the owners made a query regarding a proposed rear extension last month. I will arrange an inspection of the property regarding its condition.”

Circus Road

We have reported this long-standing issue to the Council;

“This morning around noon exactly what I have long forecast occurred. A women was knocked down crossing the road from St John’s and Elizabeth Hospital to Loudon Road by a truck. I discussed the matter with the police, who were in full agreement that this site has long needed a zebra crossing. Eastbound traffic careers round the corner until they can see the traffic lights at Wellington Road; westbound traffic is revving up at the change of lights and cannot see a clear line of sight around the kerb opposite the hospital on account of vehicles parked on both sides. It was all acceptable when St John’s and Elizabeth was little more than a cottage hospital. In recent years it has expanded to double its size, with large specialist departments expanded and a big GP health clinic, resulting in many more patients. If the hospital in recent years has found it necessary to have one or even two doormen, as ushers, surely this underlines the situation”

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – JUNE 2014

St. John’s Wood Terrace

We have asked the Council to investigate this problem;

“There are quite a few drivers that seem to enjoy treating St. Johns Wood Terrace as a proving ground for the acceleration of their cars (often noisy sports cars) in both directions from the speed table equipped junction at Ordnance Hill, and indeed speeding over the speed table often with scraping noises. St. John’s Wood Terrace is a broad, straight road with the houses set well back which may tempt drivers to think that speed would be low risk. However the road does pass a school and accommodation for older people. Excessive use of speed can be observed pretty much daily, particularly in the evenings, but also at other times when the traffic is quiet.

I think an appropriate solution for the St. Johns Wood Terrace would be additional speed tables/speed cushions along the terrace, from Ordnance Hill towards the high street, and especially having speed tables at the junctions of Charlbert Street and Woronzow Road. It is a shame this was not considered when the road was recently repaved.”

St John’s Wood Station

We have asked London Underground to address this issue;

“Take a look at the flower beds surrounding St John’s Wood station. A thicket of weeds 3 foot high and neglect and yet again no properly sized refuse bins. We are about to be inundated by visitors to Lords, visitors to the richest city in the world. What must they think? “

Violet Hill Gardens

We have asked the Council if they will investigate this concern raised by residents;

“Violet Hill garden which used to be a showstopper 20 years ago has declined in maintenance standard year on year. The plantings are no longer innovative and the main north western border has been abandoned to weed and rough shrub growth.”

St John’s Wood trees

We have asked the Council to investigate this problem;

“There has been a tree cut down and not replaced on the pavement southwest side of Blenheim Road and an ugly stump which is a pedestrian hazard on Abbey Road near the corner with Abbey Gardens. This has been like this for almost two years and in the old days would have been long replanted.”

Northwick Terrace

We asked the Council for an update on this matter;

“The street sign (north side) for Northwick Close NW8 disappeared a couple of months ago. I know you asked someone to look into it but still no sign.”

Police Surgeries

Police Surgeries are held each week at St Johns Wood Library on;

• Wednesday 7.00pm-8.00pm
• Thursday 7.00pm-8.00pm
• Saturday 2.00pm -3.00pm

No appointment is required.

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – May 2014

Labour’s Candidates for Abbey Road and Regent’s Park Wards

You can read about Labour’s Candidates for Abbey Road and Regent’s Park Wards here Abbey Road leafletRegent’s Park leaflet

Junction of Wellington Road and Grove End Road‏

We have asked TfL to investigate the situation at this location following a serious accident;

“There was a serious accident at the junction of Wellington Road and Grove End Road. I am not sure if the motorcyclist survived. People have been complaining to TFL about the ludicrous 8 second warning for pedestrians to cross Wellington Road opposite the LT station. It should be at least 11 or 12 seconds. Why do we have such a short time? Regardless of representations TFL does not even reply. Worse still, traffic on Wellington Road heading south and wishing to turn onto Grove End Road does not have a filter arrow. Instead the northbound traffic light turns red for about 30 seconds but filtering traffic has no warning of a change. This is how this accident happened. It is a potential or actual death trap. Not to have a filter arrow and a reasonable time for turning traffic as there is on Maida vale into Carlton Hill is senseless and irresponsible.”

“I have lobbied for several years for a zebra crossing opposite St John and Elizabeth hospital on Grove End Road. The road curves and the line of sight is poor. From the hospital you have to come out from behind parked vehicles and risk being hit by cars coming up the street round the curve at 30mph. Neither pedestrian nor driver has warning. This is after all a hospital! Again, no response from TFL.”

St Johns Wood Park – what you say

“I strongly support the complaint in your last issue about the way traffic uses it as a rat-run. It is not just a question of noise but of safety when crossing the road. Could the two councils –Camden and Westminster-be asked to work together to regulate the traffic preferably by installing speed humps?”

Abbey Road Beatles crossing – what you say

beatles zebra

“I think (I’m convinced!) that the frustration created (on both sides) by this situation, makes this crossing an accident waiting to happen. The problem could be addressed by (1) installing pedestrian lights with long gaps between possible pedestrian green lights (to prevent traffic chaos from constant crossings); or (2) removing the pedestrian crossing and installing railings to prevent people trying to cross the road in this location. Failing some remedial action, many drivers are likely to continue putting their hands on the horn and driving through!!!!”

“I live round the corner from it in Alma Square and pass it a number of times daily. Tourists get huge joy from visiting it – it delays the traffic very slightly but you really have to be mean-minded to spoil the tourists’ fun. It is not a danger. I have never seen an even remotely dangerous incident of any sort. As the Beatles would say: Let it be”

“I strongly endorse this resident’s comment. Regrettably, this ritual has been allowed to develop for so long without any form of restraint that it’s difficult to know how to control it. Tourists are attracted in ever-increasing numbers by advice in travel guide books and by organised tours and it’s got completely out of hand. Those standing on the kerb waiting for their chance to pose impatiently wave traffic through as other people try to cross. I have seen an infant placed sitting in the middle of the zebra crossing while its benighted parent stood in the road, back to oncoming traffic, taking a snap. Graffiti migrates from the wall of the EMI studio to adjacent properties. If warning signs were erected they would be quickly defaced or seized as souvenirs.”

“From time to time some young entrepreneurs wearing high-visibility jackets appear who seem to arrange to take photographs of people on the crossing. Presumably they do it for money or tips. Or are they tour guides? Interestingly, they do exercise a controlling effect and are at least aware of the traffic and the need for elementary safety precautions. So – is there an opportunity here for a youth employment programme in which youths wearing ‘official’ jackets impose some order on this chaos? The tourists are not trouble-makers; they are simply ignorant of traffic regulations and, unsurprisingly, think they are taking part in some sort of authorised carnival. I am confident they would quickly fall into line if there appeared to be an official presence controlling the event, at least at peak periods. “

“Please leave things as they are. Most drivers have the necessary patience to put up with this small price to pay for living in the best city in the world. There is no need to be heavy handed; this an innocent enjoyment of a mildly iconic place in London”

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – April 2014

Barrow Hill Estate

Barrow Hill

We are making enquiries about the programme for the long-awaited major works and a date when they will start, including security works. City West Homes say;

“A Major Works programme is scheduled to start in April that involves a door entry system. We have installed cameras in both entrances at Robin House which been in place since 12 February 2014. We will write to residents with details of the agreed programme, and invite residents to attend a meet the contractor drop-in. This will be an opportunity to meet the team, discuss access arrangements, and the ways in which we will minimise disruption to residents. We have kept residents updated on the planned major works via our local newsletter which is issued every three months. We have also been keeping residents update by email and sent the latest update confirming that the final stage our procurement process had been completed and the funding agreed. “

Wharncliffe Gardens

Karen Buck MP met with the Wharncliffe residents’ committee to hear their concerns about the costing and management of the planned major works. Given the history of works here and elsewhere in Westminster, they are right to be insistent of greater clarity of information and stronger project management and accountability.

Bridgeman Street

Residents in Bridgeman Street say they see cars coming down Bridgeman Street in the wrong direction from north to south although it is a one-way street. Residents fear an accident sooner or later as Barrow Hill School is in this road. We have told the Council that the road marking “No Entry” is very faint and needs repainting, perhaps on Bridgeman Street itself rather than on Allitsen Road. There is a “No Entry” sign on one side of the road and suggested that perhaps this should be reinforced by one on the other side, too.

St Edmund’s Terrace

We are making enquiries about this incident;

“This week the building work on St Edmund’s Terrace has caused serious damage to a mature tree on Wells Rise. During the loading of a crane onto an articulated truck on the hill at the top, the truck was forced out of control, while lacking a driver in the cab, and slammed into a tree on the west side. Photos are available. This sort of unsupervised vehicular activity should be banned.”

Wellington Road

We have asked the Council to investigate this problem;

“At the lights close to St John’s Wood tube, on the main road where it changes its name from Wellington to Finchley Road, very close to the island in the middle of the road in the southbound lane is a ‘pothole’ that’s about a foot long, 6 inches wide and about 6 inches deep. It’s been there for years, and is actually a small, sunken pipe cover. The pipework is too short with the result that the cover is below the road level, this depth increases every time the road is resurfaced without taking off the old tarmac. This is a very busy crossing with short crossing times so often there are too many people on the island. As soon as the lights go green the cars race off at full pelt, so there can be lots of shoving to get from the island to the other side. Recently I saw someone take a tumble after tripping in the hole and it was pure good fortune that she wasn’t hit by a car. I think it’s a miracle that nobody has been seriously injured by tripping into oncoming traffic.”

Queen’s Terrace and Queen’s Grove junction

We have passed these comments from a resident to the Council;

“An application has been submitted to convert the church/ old surgery into a large Pilates studio – Heartcore . They propose 2 studios each with 15 persons in each class. That isn’t 30 people coming into the area but 60 on the hour every hour will be on the move. Our area cannot cope with this – there isn’t the parking.”

Loudon Road/Boundary Road junction

We are following up this resident’s enquiry;

“I submitted an inquiry/request for a cross signal at the intersection of Loudon and Boundary Roads. I cross this intersection with my kids daily and it is very dangerous (cars don’t stop).”

Abbey Road

A local resident writes;

beatles zebra

“As better weather arrives so do more tourists determined to have their photo-opportunity on the zebra-crossing outside the Abbey Road Studios. I reiterate my plea for the surviving Beatles to be responsible for “policing” this disruptive, frustrating and highly dangerous mayhem, which often holds up buses and other traffic for long periods. Many visitors don’t know our law and many think the crossing their playground. “

What do you think?

St John’s Wood Park

We are making enquiries about this issue;

“Part of our road is in Camden who put up recently 20mph signs and part is in Westminster. Because the parallel roads – Finchley Road has a speed camera and Avenue road has speed humps – all the regular traffic speeds up St John’s Wood Park because there are no speed restrictions. The noise from some of these cars and motorbikes is unbelievable because the speeds are up to 70 or 80 miles an hour because it is a straight unrestricted road.”

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – March 2014

Northwick Close

We have asked the Council to investigate this enquiry;

“I know that in recent months residents in Northwick Close NW8 have phoned the Council about ‘dips’ in the cobbles of the mews, but in recent weeks it is getting worse. Some neighbours think this is due to the major basement excavation and the heavy vehicles/skips that have been coming & going. Do you think someone could have a look?”

We have also asked the Council to replace the street sign which has disappeared from the north side of the wall at the entrance by Northwick Terrace.

Crossing at Lisson Grove/Grove End Rd/St John’s Wood Rd

We have asked the Council and TfL to look at this issue;

“I thought I would mention that my most-often-used crossing at Lisson Grove/Grove End Rd/St John’s Wood Rd NW8 is treacherous because the green man lasts such a short time. If it can be extended even by just five seconds more that would be a godsend.”

Marlborough Place

We have asked the Council to investigate this problem;

“I have tried to draw the Council’s attention to the small plot of land immediately adjacent to 73 Marlborough Place, very near the junction with Hamilton Terrace. This is entirely overgrown and is becoming a dump for any passing rubbish. Can this be cleared (leaving the small trees) please?”

Queen’s Terrace and Queen’s Grove junction

We have contacted the Parking Department about this issue;

“We are desperately short of resident parking here. No 27a was a doctor’s surgery which had two “doctor” parking places outside but the doctors have long since moved and the building now has a for sale board on it. It would be so useful for these spaces to revert to much needed “resident” parking now. I have tried to put this to WCC by phone but have been passed around without any resolution and I cannot find any relevant place on the WCC web site where I can put my request. Could you assist in pressing the relevant department to convert these two parking spaces to desperately needed “resident”?”

The Council says;

“Our permits team received information at the end of January that the Doctors bays in Queens Terrace were redundant and have authorised a request to convert the redundant Doctors bays to residents parking. To convert the Doctors bays to residents requires us to change the Traffic Management Order that governs those particular bays (and makes them legally enforceable). Part of this process involves the drafting of a new Traffic Order and then advertising and consulting upon the proposal and it can take up to 12 weeks. However we are already 2 weeks into the process and I would expect that the bays will be converted sometime in mid-April.”

Scott Ellis Gardens

We have asked that loose paving stones outside Block 6 of Scott Ellis Gardens be repaired.

Wharncliffe Gardens

We have reported blocked drains along the upper path above the Regent’s canal alongside Wharncliffe Garden Estate between Cunningham Place and Lisson Grove. Residents say;

“They are completely blocked and large puddles form when it rains”

Newcourt Street

The City Council proposes to convert the police vehicle bay outside the former police station into a residents’ parking bay and recently consulted on the proposal. No objections have been received and the bays should be operational by mid-March.

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – FEBRUARY 2014

The Star and The Clifton pubs, St John’s Wood

We are delighted that the local campaigns to save both these well-used local pubs are going so well. The planning application for the conversion of The Star has been withdrawn and the new owner of The Clifton says that he is looking for a new tenant to run the pub.

Meanwhile, the St John’s Wood Society is applying to register both pubs as ‘Assets of Community Value’, in line with the suggestion from a resident;

“I have read with interest the local campaigns to try and save the Clifton and the Star in St John’s wood –an area which has lost a substantial number of community pubs over the last 10 years or so. Has the Labour group thought of promoting the concept of registering such pubs as Assets of Community Value? Whilst I don’t believe this will completely stop developers, it might raise a presumption in favour of retention of existing use at the planning stages. I find that some of the arguments in favour of retaining pubs such as these two are emotional and merely focus on history or sentiment rather than their current value to the local community (who are not all millionaires!) which I think carries more weight. Registering the two pubs might help –there is information on the Campaign for Real Ale site – camra.org.uk”

Wells Rise potholes Update

“I was so pleased when I turned into Wells Rise tonight, prepared to take any avoiding action possible, but the hole had vanished. They came during the day today and mended the gaping holes in the road, it was about 20 feet by this time, so once again well done for organising this. It was really serious, had filled with water in all this rain, and it was almost impossible to avoid it. It will make such a difference to have the road flat again, so many, many thanks.”

Doctors’ Surgeries

Seven day GP opening service has been extended to the following surgeries;

North West London Medical Centre
56 Maida Vale, London, W9 1PP
Tel: 020 7624 4433
Open 8am to 4pm

Third Floor Lanark Medical Centre
3rd Floor, 165 Lanark Rd
London, W9 1NZ
Tel: 020 7624 8616
Open 10am to 6pm

You are able to walk in or book a same day appointment at these practices. You do not have to be a member of the practice to use the service, and registration with your own GP will not be affected.

St John’s Wood police station sold for £8.5 million will become luxury flats

The ‘West End Extra’ reveals;

St John's Wood Police Station

“ONE of three Westminster police stations that closed last year has been sold to property developers for more than £8.5million.

It has been revealed that St John’s Wood police station in Newcourt Street was sold by the Mayor of London in October and will now be turned into a large block of residential flats.

After details of the sale were uncovered this week, Westminster North MP Karen Buck questioned how the money was being spent.

She said: “We’re certainly not seeing it feeding through into additional policing on the ground, which is, of course, what the promise was.”

The police station was axed last year and put on the private market as part of a £500million cost-cutting drive, which saw dozens close across London.

City Hall’s former housing chief Councillor Jonathan Glanz, who was forced to resign last year, was paid £27,000 to advise the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) on the deal in a personal capacity.

Details of the sale were revealed on a list of police buildings sold by MOPAC. It shows how 11 sales have already gone through bringing in a total of £27m and that the owner of the four-storey former police station in St John’s Wood is now Newcourt Property Holdings Ltd.

The developer is not registered at Companies House and no details of the new owners have been made public.

The deal was orchestrated by estate agents Knight Frank, which described the 7,000 sq ft property as an “attractive four-storey detached yellow-brick building” with “potential as a residential redevelopment”.

It was closed at the same time as two other police stations in Westminster.

Harrow Road police station is also expected to be sold on the private market, but the freehold of the Marylebone station belongs to Portman Estates, which had a long-lease contract with the Met.

The exact plans for the old St John’s Wood police station remain unclear as the new owners are yet to seek permission from Westminster Council for any major works.

But a register of the sale states that it is intended for “refurbishment/redevelopment for residential”.

Ms Buck said: “The gauntlet I would throw down to Westminster Council is to make sure that there is a reasonable proportion of affordable housing to rent and to buy on site.

“We are in a housing crisis and even in St John’s Wood people are saying to me we have to have a reasonable proportion of affordable housing on these sites, because otherwise everything is luxury and being sold to investors and residential communities are being hollowed out in front of our eyes. So, whether you’re thinking of the money that it generates or what happens to the building, we are losing out.”

She added: “The line from MOPAC was ‘you’ve got under-used buildings and we need more people’. Up to a point I don’t disagree with that. But where are the people? We are hundreds of police officers down on where we were in 2010.”

Cllr Glanz, who is a solicitor and director of property company 45 West, was paid £500 a day to help MOPAC dispose of the buildings.

Last year he denied a conflict of interest between this job and his former role as the cabinet member for housing and property.

He said: “I don’t perceive that as a conflict of interest. They are based on separate criteria and I have deliberately not got involved in any debate in Westminster to avoid the suggestion of that.”

Cllr Glanz was forced to resign last year after making controversial comments in which he compared social housing tenants to millionaire “trustifarians” on the Channel 4 show Made in Chelsea who depend on handouts from relatives to live a luxurious lifestyle.

A spokeswoman for MOPAC said: “All money from police station sales will be ploughed back into policing, including investing in IT to deliver a 21st-century police force better equipped to respond to crime.”

Plans to turn Star pub in St Johns Wood into family home withdrawn

the-star-st-johns-wood

The ‘Wood & Vale’ reports;

“A controversial planning application to turn St John’s Wood’s last “traditional” pub into a posh home has been withdrawn – but campaigners warn the war is far from over.

The Star pub in St John’s Wood Terrace was told today that property developers West End Investments had withdrawn its plans to redevelop the building.

Westminster Council confirmed to the Wood&Vale today that the application has been withdrawn.

The company, run by property entrepreneur Marcus Cooper, had submitted plans to turn the pub into a family home complete with games room, cinema room and a “gym with wet and steam room”.

Locals rallied round the pub and started a campaign to “Save the Star” which got more than 800 signatures.

When told of the news, many were delighted but also wary of new plans being submitted to Westminster Council later on.

Mick Hunt, head groundsman at Lord’s Cricket Ground, has been drinking in the pub for more than 40 years and told the Wood&Vale he was delighted with the news.

He said: “What people need to realise is that this is a vital community hub that also helps the local economy with a lot of passing trade.

“Over the years we have lost too many pubs down here but if this one went it would be awful. People really care about the place.

“It has a real cross section of people who go there but the great thing is, once you have a pint in your hand we all become equal.

“When we first heard about the plans we were all a bit shell shocked. Despite this good news, we know that we have not won the war yet – just the first battle.”

Karen Buck MP backs campaigns to save St John’s Wood pubs ‘The Star’ and ‘The Clifton’

thecliftonthe-star-st-johns-wood

“The sudden emergence of campaigns to defend local pubs- most recently ‘The Star’ and ‘The Clifton’ in St John’s Wood, have brought together some distinct and important elements. One is, of course, a specific affection for the pubs themselves- the food, the beer, the service, the events held there. The second, related factor is the pub forming part of a sense of place- the pub within the neighbourhood. Of course habits change and, in the same way that high streets must adapt to our growing fondness for shopping on-line, many pubs are going under due to our different patterns of consumption.

Despite this, a good pub is something we feel strongly about. It is part of our cultural heritage. It is somewhere to meet up, especially at night when the coffee shops have closed. A good pub is one of the remaining centres of community life, and we often cling to that, in a fast-changing place like London. A good pub, too, welcomes people from all backgrounds and walks of life. We can all rub shoulders together in a manner that has become increasingly rare in our rather stratified city.

But there is more. Many if not most of our pub defenders make the point to me that they don’t want to see their pub converted into yet more luxury housing- housing which may be simply another home for (global) investment, and maybe not even lived in. In common with the campaigners against monster basement conversions, pub defenders feel that their slice of inner London- prosperous, perhaps, but never far away from much more mixed communities, is disappearing. Most of us feel the need for some familiarly, some roots in the neighbourhood we live in. We like to see familiar and use familiar landmarks.

Some of this, is, of course, down to us. If we don’t shop locally, local shops will disappear. If we don’t pop in to our local pub, it will close too. But we want a fighting chance against the tide of property investment which is engulfing central London. If ‘localism’ is to mean anything, our council and our planners must use whatever powers they have to support well-loved local institutions like ‘The Star’ and ‘The Clifton’. They must make sure a robust local economic strategy keeps our ‘high-streets’ alive. And the government nationally should support the proposals of Business Select Committee to support pubs, which are closing at the rate of 18 a week across the country. Each of those 18 closures costs their community 11 jobs and sees a loss of around £80,000 to the local economy- investment which isn’t matched by the replacement of a pub with a luxury home.

In the meantime, I wish every good luck to the local campaigns around ‘The Star’ and ‘The Clifton’, which have clearly touched a real nerve and deserve to succeed. ”

You can do your bit by signing the petition at

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/westminster-council-save-the-clifton-pub-st-john-s-wood-nw8?share_id=LZIzZjWbeJ&utm_campaign=twitter_link_action_box&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=share_petition

Save the Clifton pub

theclifton

We are supporting residents who want to save this long established and well used local pub. They say;

“Please join us in keeping our beloved pub, which has been in this community for over 300years from being developed into another residential property. It is the heart & soul of St Johns Wood, which has been enjoyed by so many from near and far. ”

Rubbish collection success in Abbey Road

Labour Councillors have chalked up another success by getting rubbish cleared from a vacant former care home at 41 Abbey Road.

Abbey Rd rubbish

The rubbish had been left uncollected for weeks, if not longer, until Labour Councillors reported the problem to Council Officers, after which the rubbish was cleared up by contractors working for the owners.

As one happy resident told us;

“Miracles happen! A red van came this morning and two men swept the front and have removed the rubbish”
Abbey road rubbish 2

Save The Star in St John’s Wood – a great local pub

Labour Councillors are supporting the bid to save The Star public house in St John’s Wood Terrace from closure and conversion in to a luxury residential development. Councillors are encouraging residents to sign the petition and to write to Westminster Council to object to the planning application.

the-star-st-johns-wood

The petition says

1. The Star is an important social hub for people who live and work in the area.
2. It attracts a local, national and international clientele that is multi-lingual and multicultural.
3. The Star plays an important role in attracting tourism revenue; cricket fans and players from Lords, musicians from nearby RAK Studios, Regent’s Park day-trippers, even celebrities like Paul McCartney, Dustin Hoffman, Liam Gallagher and the Arctic Monkeys have sampled their hospitality.
4. The Star is aesthetically significant; an old-style corner pub with an attractive exterior complimented by a Dickensian interior with original features.
5. The Star is a ‘proper’ traditional pub with history (built in the 1820s), strong links to the community and a unique identity. 6. The Star is the most unique of all 4 pubs remaining in the area. If it were to close it would leave an irreplaceable void and a lack of choice.
7. Many local residents believe Westminster Council has an obligation to protect the Star as an important heritage site for the area, to maintain the current level of real customer choice for local pub-goers and to send a clear signal to the local electorate that it cares about local pubs and amenities.

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/westminster-council-say-no-to-a-planning-application-to-change-the-use-of-the-star-in-st-john-s-wood-terrace-london-nw8-from-a-pub-into-a-house

You can make comments on the planning application on line at

http://idoxpa.westminster.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=makeComment&keyVal=MW8XFURPZ5000

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – DECEMBER 2013

Circus Road Tesco

We have asked the Council to investigate this recurring problem;

“I wonder if you would have a look at the condition of the pavement kerb stones and the gutter outside Tesco on Circus Road St Johns Wood. Every evening these very large lorries arrive to deliver to Tesco. The noise they make is awful they can come and go until around 10 o’clock. Now they are not satisfied with breaking up the pavement outside Tesco they are now parking outside the post office and Library. When asked what they were going to do about the above matter the answer was the council will repair it.”

The Council says;

“We’re checking the state of the footway and any damage etc. However, photographic proof of the Tesco lorry being the cause would be great to help move this forward. If the resident has a digital camera or smartphone I wonder if they could also send us anything showing this activity. It seems to me that they sound more likely to catch this as they are seeing it so often.”

41 Abbey Road – Derelict former care home

We have written to the owners of this property and to the Council after receiving the following message from a local resident expressing concerns that are widely held in the area;

“This former old people’s home has been left to go derelict unattended. Weeds and rubbish are piling up and probably rats too. The whole structure which has been empty for almost two years is being deliberately left to decay. Recently it was raided by the police because of squatters who had turned the five storeys into a giant a nursery. The owners should be compelled to properly maintain the building.”

The Planning Enforcement officer tells us;

“We have undertaken an inspection of the property and it is envisaged that warning letters will be issued next week.”

Wall at junction of Ormonde Terrace and Prince Albert Road‏

This wall is in Camden and we had the following update from Camden Planning Officers;

“It appears that this wall was demolished by Camden’s building control team in partnership with The Royal Parks as it was structurally unsafe. However while the lodge, known as Primrose Hill Lodge is owned by the Crown and managed by The Royal Parks on behalf of the Crown, the wall is outside the registered boundary of the lodge. It is unclear who is responsible for the wall in order to discuss its reinstatement. I have requested further assistance to see if there is any chance of discussing the rebuilding of the front wall. I will update you”

Wells Rise

We have repeated our enquiries about this pot hole problem which a number of residents have brought to our attention;

“I thought I would write again to enquire what the officers propose doing about the large hole that is growing and deteriorating at the top of the hill that is Wells Rise. The problem is at the very top of the hill in the middle of the road, with the centre of the road starting to crack the length of the side of our building. The non -top cleaning down of our hill is certainly not helping this situation, but the trucks dropped a ton of mud here again just after they started work at 8.00 this morning, so if they are that careless, the cleaning, noisy as it is, may be necessary. The disruption is certainly very galling especially since we do not benefit at all from their building.”

“For the last year or so we have been subject to substantial and continuous noise, pollution and disturbance from the two developments at the Primrose Hill end of St Edmund’s Terrace. The road surface in Wells Rise is now atrocious due to the almost continuous passage of very heavy lorries – indeed there have been at least two mains water pipe leaks as a result.”

St John’s Wood mansion has £65m price slashed by half

The ‘Evening Standard’ reports;

“A property billed as the “finest newly constructed house in London” had had its £65 million asking price cut by £30 million.

The five-storey, 11-bedroom home with10 bathrooms, a gym and underground parking in St John’s Wood is now available for offers “in excess of £35 million”. The reduction has led to speculation that the capital’s “super prime” property market has become over-inflated.

The St John’s Wood home is at 40 Avenue Road, near Lord’s, and is being marketed by Savills and Knight Frank. Neither estate agent would comment on the property.

It has 21,600 sq ft of floor space including a leisure complex, a marble-lined entrance, a mahogany panelled study and an underground car park.

Buying agent Henry Pryor said there were a number of multi-million-pound homes for sale on the same road, including one which has been reduced by 24 per cent over the past 12 months.

“The market has softened in the past year and people can’t be so cavalier with asking prices,” he said. “It can punish those who are over-ambitious. Canny buyers now appreciate that you no longer have to pay ticket price and the queue of potential buyers for these mega-sales has reduced to a trickle.”

Trevor Abrahmsohn, who runs Glentree Estates and specialises in multi-million-pound homes, said business was down 50 per cent this year. The super-agent pointed to the rise in stamp duty on homes above £2 million from five to seven per cent. “The market has stopped above £2 million in London and the supply is clogging up,” he said.”

Action demanded on derelict St John’s Wood care home

41 Abbey Road

Labour Councillors have written to the owners of a derelict former care home, Greathead Lodge, 41 Abbey Road, after receiving the following message from a local resident expressing concerns that are widely held in the area. Residents say;

“This former old people’s home has been left to go derelict unattended. Weeds and rubbish are piling up and probably rats too. The whole structure which has been empty for almost two years is being deliberately left to decay. Recently it was raided by the police because of squatters who had turned the five storeys into a giant marijuana nursery. The owners should be compelled to properly maintain the building.”

Labour Councillors have found out that the former care home was bought in May 2011 by a company registered in the Virgin Islands for £5.9 million.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Labour Group, said;

“This is long-derelict property is a blight on the St John’s Wood environment and the owners should secure the building and clean it up without further delay. In the longer term, this building should be refurbished and brought back in to use as a priority. If the current owners are not willing to do so then they should sell to a housing association who can provide homes for those in housing need.”

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – NOVEMBER 2013

Lorne Close, Park Road

We did a walkabout in Lorne Close recently. General issues raised included anti-social behaviour in the basement garage and communal areas, including damage to parked cars and the entry system. We were told that police response-times leave much to be desired. The reduction in Neighbourhood Police Teams may be one reason for this.

Loudon Road/Carlton Hill

We asked the Council to investigate this problem;

“Are you aware that the Café Med on the corner of Loudon Road and Carlton Hill is in the middle of a residential area? However, each night around midnight to 4am a council rubbish truck comes to very noisily pick up their rubbish, which includes emptying a bin full of bottles which smash and make a racket when they are tipped into the dustbin van. Given that there are 2 weekly collections on Loudon Road and 2 different collection days on Carlton Hill (so 4 pickups of rubbish each week), can you investigate if there is an alternative to the middle of the night collections?”

The Council has told us;

“The Council doesn’t collect any waste from Café Med since they are under contract with a private waste collector (“Biffa”). We have contacted Biffa asking them to consider collecting at a more suitable hour. The local Warden will also visit Cafe Med to ask them to be more considerate of their neighbours when arranging waste collections. I have also highlighted this issue to the Noise Team who may potentially be able to serve a Noise Abatement Notice if the problem continues.”

Springfield Road/Loudon Road signs – what you say

“Thank you very much for your intervention – this has at last been rectified. We now have street signs displayed again – hope this time they are not removed.”

Boundary Road estate – what you say

“I totally agree with the comment of the owner of the flat in Carlton Hill Estate, although not in the same position, I believe I have had similar experiences with City West Homes. They stated that some work would happen on Boundary Road Estate and invited residents to a meeting last July – which I attended, since then absolutely no information has been forthcoming. City West Homes seems very fond of sending out glossy brochures saying ‘ what a brilliant job they are doing’ which seems to be based on their own opinion, I do not know of any resident who thinks this.”

Lisson Grove moorings

“Is there some way we can compile the complaints about the Lisson Grove moorings which regularly appear in your newsletter and put pressure on British Waterways? When I investigated I found that the man responsible for locking the gates lives in one of the boats and appears to open and close them when he feels like it. One Saturday over the summer he never opened them at all. This is a tow path – not a gated community. I too have also been made to turn back by that man long before dusk. And I also found him rude and aggressive. In fact a passer-by was so concerned at his behaviour towards me, he stopped to check I was all right. I have seen any number of tourists bewildered and lost. Can British Waterways please tell us what they intend to do about this. Why has this intimidating man been left in charge despite numerous complaints?”

Basement Excavations

Westminster Council has now issued a revised policy for consultation, which you can see and comment on here:
http://www.westminster.gov.uk/services/environment/planning/planning-policy/basements-planning-policy/

Karen Buck MP has introduced her own bill into Parliament seeking to give greater legal protection to Councils that choose to toughen their policies, but risk appeals by well-funded developers.

ST JOHN’S WOOD ACTION REPORT – SEPTEMBER 2013

Cochrane Street

We have written to Octavia Housing to request replacement of the windows (and possibly the front doors, too) of their properties in Cochrane Street. Residents tell us;

“The flats were built in 1948 and windows have not been replaced since. The windows and front doors are in such a state of disrepair that they expose the residents to freezing draughts, even when it’s sunny. Even with full central heating, the flats can be cold, especially in the winter months in high winds.”

Ormonde Terrace and Prince Albert Road

We have contacted Camden Council about damage to a historic wall on the corner of Ormonde Terrace and Prince Albert Road.

Clifton Hill, Loudon Road and Springfield Road street signs

We have asked the Council to investigate this problem;

“In July, I noticed that a street sign that had for 12 years been attached to a wall on Clifton Hill was hanging by two nails. I reported this to the Council dealing with street issues, asking them to reattach it properly. An hour later, it had been completely removed, and a few days later the Springfield Road sign attached to the wall had also been stolen. Both of these were on the corner of Loudoun Road. To date, besides three follow-up calls by myself, the street signs have not been replaced. I was told it can take up to two months – this time has been exceeded. Is there anything you can do to expedite their secure (theft-proof) replacement please?”

Queen’s Grove

We have asked the Council to investigate this problem;

“I am writing to bring to your attention that there are paving stones outside my house on Queen’s Grove that are loose and dangerous. Could you please advise who I need to contact to ensure that the paving stones are secured?”

Area around Ordnance Hill, Acacia Road, Townshend Road and thereabouts

The Council has updated us on the action being taken to keep the area clear of dog waste;

“I’m pleased to confirm that this very issue is being dealt with. A growing occurrence of bags of dog waste being discarded in tree bases, coupled with the last city survey results that listed dog fouling as a major problem for our residents, has led to the development of an awareness campaign, which was launched at the start of the month. The main aspect of this campaign has been posters on our major dog walking routes, stating ‘Your Dog, Your Responsibility’. This is directed at dog walkers, reminding them to clean up after their pets and also dispose of the waste correctly, either in litter bins or by taking it home with them. In conjunction with this, we will also be attaching stickers to litter bins in dog walking areas, clearly identifying that dog waste can be disposed of in the normal litter bins. We hope that by promoting responsible dog ownership, the blight of dog fouling and bagged dog fouling on our streets will reduce considerably. The local Wardens will also continue to take enforcement action against inconsiderate dog owners as required. For more information, including a map function that can locate your nearest litter bin, please see the following council website.”

More luxury homes for St John’s Wood as Mayor flogs off another Police Station

St John's Wood Police Station

St John’s Wood Police Station, closed by Mayor Boris Johnson earlier this year, is being sold for more luxury housing. The Mayor has appointed estate agents Knight Frank to sell the building and is likely to be converted to luxury apartments for overseas investors, with no affordable housing.

Labour Councillors say that the building on Newcourt Street should be passed to a housing association so that it can be refurbished for low cost housing and include a police facility where the local Safer Neighbourhood Team can be based.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Labour Group, said;

“St John’s Wood does not need more luxury housing but there is a shortage of homes for rent at prices that local people can afford. The former police station is a public asset and should be used to provide homes for local residents and not sold off to the highest bidder as an investment. Slowly but surely, the Conservatives are making Westminster a place where only the very wealthy can afford to live. This is tearing the heart out of places like St John’s Wood and other parts of Westminster and it is time to say ‘enough is enough’ so that our local communities can be protected.”

The rise and rise of ‘Super Prime’ – and what is may mean for our city.

Karen Buck MP writes;

The St John’s Wood Society deserves all the credit it gets for its constant efforts to protect the quality of life of this unique and lovely corner of London. It is a corner rich in history and culture. A corner about which many stories have been told- some of them even fit for re-telling in decent company. But central London is changing fast and new pressures are emerging which challenge all of us who want to live in a dynamic but socially and culturally diverse city which maintains a sense of community across its many ‘villages’.

The rapid growth of the ‘super prime’ housing market- usually defined as properties worth £10m or more- confirms what we already knew, that London is one of the handful of global cities deemed safe and attractive for international investors., and which is therefore sucking in massive investment in property. According to the recent Savills report over two thirds of buyers at the top end of the London property market came from overseas in the past two years.

Now, London has always been an international city (at pretty well every level), and this international appeal, together with the generally successful integration of diverse communities, is one reason for London’s success. Cities don’t thrive economically or in other ways if they are closed off to outsiders or don’t appeal to them. Many Britons own homes abroad, too. So this is not an argument for insularity.

But that doesn’t mean we should not be asking some hard questions about the public policy implications of what is happening in the heart of London.

Such as, what is the impact on a neighbourhood when so many houses are owned by people for whom they are not home, and who indeed may rarely even visit?

To take one specific example, helped by the St John’s Wood Society and other Westminster amenity societies, I have been campaigning on the issue of excessive and disruptive basement conversions. A common theme frequently emerges from neighbour’s complaints- the owners of so many of the properties where these mega-basement excavations are going on are no merely absent but hidden behind foreign companies, unaccountable and uncontactable.

Should we be concerned that such a high proportion of new-build, high value, London homes are being marketed abroad, off-plan? That they are not even always available to home buyers?Isn’t it making the situation worse that the Council is permitting so many high value developers to avoid their duties to provide even a small proportion of affordable homes on the site of these developments? Despite the huge housing pressure across London, driving up homelessness amongst the lowers income groups, which itself cost Westminster over £40 million last year, just 139 new ‘affordable’ homes have been built since 2010, and only 85 of them were for council rent.

Westminster already has the highest proportion of any council in the country for households renting privately. A healthy private rented sector is a good thing, but it is characterised by very high turnover, and this is turn is associated with a low level of connection to the area. The new housing market is intensifying this process, with the risk that very high transience undermines hard-won efforts to build a sense of community, and reduces pressure to deliver effective local services.

And finally, can it be right that the residents of super-prime homes like the £20m plus properties at 1, Knightsbridge pay the same property tax (in the shape of Council Tax) as the owner of a home originally valued at just £320,000? This seems to raise some serious questions about fairness.

However this debate unfolds (and I welcome the views of St John’s Wood Society members), I want to ensure that the interests of long-standing residents are protected. Change is inevitable- London never stands still and that has many positives as well as some downsides-but we do not want to follow the pattern emerging elsewhere, where the centre is hollowed out and the needs and interests of established communities are submerged beneath the tide of global super-wealth.

Beatles’ Abbey Road cover used as safety message in India

The ‘Daily Telegraph’ reports;

The Beatles’ iconic Abbey Road album cover has helped cut road deaths by 20 per cent in Calcutta after it was used by traffic chiefs to highlight the danger of jaywalking.

The album, which was released in 1969, flawlessly demonstrates one of the cornerstones of the highway code as John, Paul, George and Ringo use a zebra crossing to cross a road in St John’s Wood, London.

Now Indian road chiefs have used the image to warn pedestrians about the dangers of ignoring the safety laws in an attempt to cut the large number of road deaths in Calcutta.

Some 140,000 people die in road accidents each year in India, the highest rate in the world. By comparison the UK has just over 2,000 road deaths per year and the USA around 32,000.

Hundreds of signs bearing the album artwork, along with the slogan “If they can, why can’t you?”, have been put up around Calcutta in recent months.

More than 400 people die every year in Calcutta in 3,000 road traffic accidents, with more than 2,000 being injured, but since the posters went up the accident rate has fallen by around 20 per cent, officials said.

Supratim Sarkar, the joint commissioner of the traffic police in Calcutta, said that the profile of the band should mean it was “a big enough incentive for people to take notice”.

He said: “We are trying to say that if John, Paul, George and Ringo could use the zebra crossing, you can do it too.
“The Beatles touched thousands of lives with their music and we are simply trying to use their universal appeal to save lives.”

Ernie Sutton, the treasurer of the British Beatles Fan Club, said last week: “If this poster can help save some lives by encouraging people to use zebra crossing then I think it’s a great thing to do.”

George Eliot Primary School wins Times Education­al Supplement Outstand­ing School of the Year award

George Eliot Primary School, in St John’s Wood, has won the coveted Times Education­al Supplement Outstand­ing School of the Year award. It completes a dramatic turnaround after the infants school was placed in special measures in 2009, leading to it joining up with the primary under the stew­ardship of headteacher Beatrix Simpson.

Ms Simpson said: “Respect is very important to me. When I came here children were throwing stones at each other in the playground. Now children are respectful of each other.”

The school’s 445 pupils were made up of a “challenging demo­graphic” with more than half receiving free school meals, nine out of ten speaking English as a second language and 26 per cent having special educational needs.

The TES judge said the school was “impressive not just for the results but for the richness of school life”.

Action needed to bring empty St John’s Wood home for elderly back in to use

41 Abbey Road

We have called for action to bring the long-vacant former home for the elderly at 41 Abbey Road in St John’s Wood back in to use.

The former home for the elderly, sold by Elizabeth Finn Homes, has been vacant for over two years and is visibly crumbling away.

This substantial property should be brought back in to use as soon as possible so that it can provide homes for people in housing need.

2 Responses to St John’s Wood

  1. Frédéric Valognes says:

    Would you be good enough to let me know about te current status of the 41 Abbey Road mansion.
    f.valognes@hotmail.fr +33 6 48 67 75 02

    • I think that this property was given planning permission to be converted to apartments earlier this year. The proposal was supported by residents who had been concerned at the long-standing derelict state of the property.

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