More work needed on Oxford Street to get it right, say Labour

If you live in near Oxford Street and you care about the air you breathe, you should read this!

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Following the announcement of the latest consultation returns on the Oxford Street project, Labour’s Business and Public Realm spokesperson, Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg said:

“The consultation results show that TfL and Westminster City Council still have a big job to do to demonstrate that the proposals will have local benefits. Around half of local residents are opposed to the proposals, with the other half in support (with or without concerns). We have four major concerns and call on TfL and Westminster Council to show ((a) how any additional vehicular traffic will be kept out of residential streets; (b) how air pollution levels will be reduced in residential streets; (c) how the needs of the disabled and elderly will be provided for and (d) how Oxford Street will be managed 24/7 to ensure the safety and security of residents, shoppers and visitors”

“We will keep campaigning to get the best deal for local residents and businesses”

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The changing Fitzrovia art scene

Shame that Fitzrovia Lates fizzled out but good that we still have many excellent galleries.

Fitzrovia News

Towards the end of 2011 I wrote enthusiastically about the increase in the number of commercial galleries, from 16 in 2008 to 37. By 2012 the number peaked at around 54, but there has been a big fallout over the last five years, and we are now down to around 32 spaces.

Map of Fitzrovia galleries taking part in 'Lates'. Fitzrovia Lates, one of the initiatives to promote the area as an art hub, fizzled out long ago.

Also, these figures don’t take into account the many galleries that came and went during this period: I have noted over 60 gallery closures over the last six years.

There are many reasons for this falling off, the massive increases in West End rents and business rates, that has affected art galleries all over central London, being an important factor. While one reads daily about auction records being smashed and vast sums of money being paid for paintings at…

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The press that changed the cultural landscape of Britain

Fitzrovia News

Picture the scene: it’s June 1965 and Barry Miles (Fitzrovia resident for over 50 years and Czar of the Counterculture) and his pal John “Hoppy” Hopkins join 7,000 other like-minded souls at The Royal Albert Hall for an international poetry gathering, led by the Americans Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Gregory Corso.

Image of book cover. A catalogue of every British underground paper that launched in the 1960s.

Miles (for nobody calls him Barry) explains: “As a reading it was not special; as a meeting place for young people – students, musicians, poets, actors, people from the arts, the sciences and education – it was a revelation. There were thousands of us! My friend Hoppy and I looked at each other and nodded, we both had the same idea. These people need a newspaper of their own! There was a constituency there that Fleet Street was simply not covering.”

The idea for International Times…

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Counter Culture in Fitzrovia – Past and Present

How much do you really know about Fitzrovia?

Although I’ve lived in the Fitzrovia for nearly ten years I have the feeling there’s an awful lot I don’t know about my neighbours, past and present. Since I moved here, references to Fitzrovia pop up all over the place. For example a character in Terence Rattigan’s play ‘After the Dance’ talks excitedly about slumming it at the Fitzroy Tavern. And Joyce Grenfell used to scrub floors for composer Richard Addinsell in his Mortimer Street flat. She was very attached to him.

Here’s a chance to find out about counter culture in Fitzrova

Barry Miles and Hannah Watson in conversation at the chapel

Wednesday 25 October, 18:30 to 20:30; tickets only £6

 Since the Bohemians settled in the area in the 1920s and named it after their favourite pub ‘The Fitzroy Tavern’, Fitzrovia has long held a burgeoning history of counterculture through its resident writers, artists and musicians.
Join cultural historian and Fitzrovia resident since the 1960s, Barry Miles, and more recent resident publisher of Trolley Books and gallerist, Hannah Watson, as they discuss the role of counterculture in Fitzrovia, past and present. This event is part of our #lineage series.

Great Portland Estates appears to have run out of ideas for street names

Fitzrovia News

As the massive commercial and residential development on the former Royal Mail delivery centre in Fitzrovia nears completion, developer Great Portland Estates appears to have run out of ideas for street names.

Rathbone Square sign. Rathbone Square is correctly signed and approved by Westminster council.

The Rathbone Square development will have office space for Facebook, 142 private residential apartments, cafes, shops and restaurants surrounding a central square within 50 metres of Tottenham Court Road station.

Rathbone Passage sign. A sign for Rathbone Passage was put up in error.

Pedestrian walkways running through the site and linking Newman Street to Rathbone Place have now been labelled with those instantly recognisable and iconic vitreous enamel street signs.

Street sign. A new pedestrian walkway is named Newman Passage by Great Portland Estates.

There’s Rathbone Square, Rathbone Passage, and… Newman Passage.

But hang on a moment. Isn’t there already a Georgian alleyway further up the road called Newman Passage? Yes, there is…

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Neighbourhood forum calls on Westminster council to reject Holden House redevelopment plans

Fitzrovia News

The Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Forum is urging Westminster council to reject plans by property developer Derwent London to part demolish and redevelop a cluster of commercial buildings on a corner site in the Hanway Street conservation area.

Corner of street. A major redevelopment is planned for the northwest corner of Oxford Street and Rathbone Place.

Plans by Derwent are for the demolition and redevelopment behind retained facades of 54-62 Oxford Street and 51-58 Rathbone Place (known as Holden House or Evelyn House); and for the complete demolition of 66 and 68 Oxford Street to be replaced with a new “high quality glass-block building”.

Nick Bailey of the Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Forum has written to Westminster council’s planners saying the application should be refused.

“This is an important early work by Percy Adams and Charles Holden and we are concerned that the integrity of the listed building will be lost if redevelopment…

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