Westminster City Council has now made a decision on where the boundary of Fitzrovia and Marylebone will be for the purpose of neighbourhood planning under the Localism Act. In an announcement this week Councillor Robert Davis, Cabinet Member for the Built Environment, agreed the recommendations in a report following a period of public consultation on five neighbourhood areas in the City of Westminster.
Councillor Davis agreed that the Fitzrovia (west) neighbourhood area be designated with minor revisions to the western and southern boundaries. The decision places the western boundary of Fitzrovia as including the “western side of Great Portland Street to ensure a consistent approach is taken to this street. These revisions, together with the largely supported proposed neighbourhood area, will ensure the designation of a distinct and separate neighbourhood area.”
The area excluded the New Broadcasting House buildings and the Regent Street frontages as the council decided these should be in the neighbouring Marylebone area.
As part of the Fitzrovia neighbourhood is within the City Council’s designated Core Central Activities Zone (CAZ) the area has been designated as “a neighbourhood business area, since the area is predominantly business in nature”, says the decision.
A cross-borough application which included both Camden and Westminster parts of Fitzrovia was rejected by the council. However, Camden Council is likely to approve a Fitzrovia East neighbourhood area application this Thursday.
In a statement Wendy Shillam of the Fitzrovia West steering committee said: “We are delighted to report that Westminster City Council has just announced their acceptance of Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Area. We would like to thank everyone who wrote to the council. There is no doubt that your comments tipped the balance, convincing the officers and elected representatives that Fitzrovia is distinct and should be granted its own neighbourhood. “
Councillor Davis made a decision on the Marylebone application which in part overlapped with the Fitzrovia West area application. He agreed to designate the Marylebone area asked for except for the part that were claimed by the Fitzrovia West application and the area which included Regent’s Park.
“The subsequent application and support for a separate neighbourhood area (Fitzrovia) should therefore result in a revised eastern boundary to the west of Great Portland Street. Furthermore, Regent’s Park is not considered to be part of Marylebone but a separate geographic entity in its own right,” said Councillor Davis.
The Marylebone neighbourhood area was also designated as a business area as part of it is in the City Council’s Core CAZ.
In a statement Michael Bolt of the Marylebone Association said: “The area covers a smaller area than that applied for. Regent’s Park has been removed as that and the other Royal Parks will be outside the Neighbourhood Forum set up. We failed to secure east Marylebone so the boundary will be along Great Portland Street. Further, the buildings along both sides of most of Great Portland Street will be lost to us, which is disappointing as there was much support in this area for the Marylebone Forum.
“On the plus side we have the additional area applied for to the north of Marylebone Road, the area around Hyde Park Corner and the area east of Oxford Circus to Great Portland Street.”
Although the Fitzrovia West application was driven by residents interests to protect the residential and small scale businesses in the area, much of the neighbourhood is dominated by the Core CAZ and includes “opportunity areas”. While the forum steering committee includes representatives of businesses — and Fitzrovia News understands that positive discussions have been had with local landowners — people wishing to protect residential amenity and control commercial development are likely to find the road ahead a difficult one.
The next stage will involve the creation of a neighbourhood forum which includes representatives of stakeholders in the area. This too will have to be approved by Westminster council. The subsequent working forum will have powers to create a neighbourhood plan to control building development.
In the report to Councillor Davis the officers noted that a significant amount of floorspace in Fitzrovia is commercial. “An assessment of this revised neighbourhood area demonstrates that 83% of the floorspace is in ‘commercial’ use and just 17% is in residential use. Based on these figures, together with the assessment of the area and current policy designations, it is considered appropriate to designate the Fitzrovia West neighbourhood area as a ‘business area’. This will mean that any neighbourhood plan that is produced will be subject to an additional referendum of businesses in the area (in addition to a referendum of those on the electoral register).”
Residents in Marylebone are slightly better off as the report notes that “61% of
floorspace is in ‘business use’ and 39% in residential use”.
Other neighbourhood areas were designated for Paddington and Maida Vale, and Hyde Park and Paddington.