Our public meeting at Abasto cafe in Connaught Street on 6th June drew together 60 local people, all three local councillors and a representative of our London Assembly member Tony Devenish, to focus on heading off any threat to Lancaster Gate tube station, and to respond to the Cycleway 43 consultation.
That shows how the Hyde Park Estate Association really does have the ability to get members’ views heard on issues that affect us all. If you feel that there is a subject that needs a hearing like that again, please let me know.
As your new chairman, I wanted to spotlight the work of our Transport Sub Committee, headed by the extremely hard-working and well-networked Sally Martin, along with Robert Gardner and John and Christine Tillisch.
Most of those present (90%) cycled for work or leisure but were opposed to the closure of Stanhope Place to cars. The principal of Connaught House School said that, after careful consideration of driving patterns near the school, that the proposed closure would in fact make conditions more dangerous for pupils, not less. A response summarising these views was submitted to the consultation on 25 June.
The Transport Sub Committee has also given support to the plans for a last-mile distribution hub in the “Crossrail Box” at Paddington Basin:https://fivekingdomstreetconsultation.com/This is intended to replace the present system of multiple Amazon deliveries by van, which cause significant pollution and congestion, with single bulk deliveries from the Heathrow logistics base to Paddington, for onward last-stage movement by cargo bike or small e-vehicles.
Elsewhere, your association has streamlined membership applications using EventBrite (thanks Amro and Maria!!), confirmed a new committee, an AGM and Christmas Party on 11th December at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, and assessed a number of planning applications. These include a request to extend the hours of operation for a convenience store in Norfolk Place, a very unwelcome late night takeaway extension in Praed Street and a request to build a bike storage facility near the International School and SureStart nursery. Late night food options already exist for hospital workers, while takeaway licences in the small hours of the morning mean broken sleep and disturbance for residents.
We remain supportive of the Connaught Village Green public realm scheme, with greening and improvements for pedestrians, but opposed to making part of Kendal Street one way as it would encourage speeding and cause traffic displacement. We believe the scheme can be completed without this element. We have also supported the small scale office development inside Portsea Mews as it would bring lunchtime business to local retailers.
Sally has also lobbied the Royal Parks to invest in Automated Number Plate Recognition systems to stop commercial vehicles using Hyde Park (which is against by-laws) and causing congestion on West Carriage Drive. Meanwhile, as feared, the consultation responses challenging the current Park Lane lane allocations have been ignored by Transport for London.
I have also submitted evidence to the Government’s two current consultations on the effects of overnight and short letting of residential property, essentially an unmanaged hotel business which inflicts noise and disturbance on neighbours and drives out long term residents by extracting high rental yields regardless of the negative impact on the area.
Downsizing while staying close to our area is often very hard to do. We have been told that a company called Wallacea Living is building retirement homes inside the Berkeley Homes development at West End Gate, next to Paddington Green, some overlooking gardens. There are a total of 104 properties, a mix of 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom apartments and 2-bedroom penthouses, across 15 floors. Apartments will range from 570 to 1345 sq ft. There is to be access to a gym, spa, beauty salon, pool, cinema, bar, library and a restaurant. There will be an in-house care team for those requiring it. Apartments are for sale off plan from end of September 2023 with an information website due in August. Anyone interested can contact the company on 07442 842426.
Finally I would like to pay tribute to Dr Allen Zimbler, chairman of six years’ standing and previously committee member for a total of 15 years, now an honorary vice patron. Allen has devoted himself unstintingly to this society, with the objective of ensuring residents’ voices are heard by local authorities, the police, Business Improvement Districts, Neighbourhood Forum, government agencies, landowners and other bodies whose activities have an impact on the community.
He has conscientiously and energetically carried out this voluntary role. He also serves on the Hyde Park Paddington Neighbourhood Forum and chairs the Ward Panel, part of the local crime prevention framework. I can testify to the effort he put in over the years to investigating solutions to problems of crime and anti-social behaviour, bringing together our committee and membership and ensuring the Ward Panel was an effective and representative channel of communication to the police.
Alongside his professional and family commitments, and leadership of other local bodies, Allen was always ready for an early morning meeting with local councillors to work out a solution to the latest transport or environmental issue. I am sure many of you will want to take the opportunity to thank Allen at our AGM and Christmas Party.
Very best wishes for the rest of the summer!