All PNF members (plus guests from neighbouring Forums or residents’ associations) were invited on the 24 October 2023 at St Saviours Hall for the AGM
After the success of the referendum approving the Pimlico Neighbourhood Plan in September 2022, It was a lively and positive meeeting focussing on the way forward with Westminster City Council about current issues.
Here are the draft minutes of the meeting and the papers which were previously made available to Forum members:
- Minutes of the 5th October 2021 AGM
- 2023 Annual Report
- 2022-2023 Accounts
Planning applications, Queen Mother Sports Centre, Warwick Way / Churton Street
Since the Spring, the Forum has been responding to a small number of planning applications, to ensure that the Pimlico Neighbourhood Plan is taken into account in Westminster and Planning Inspectorate decisions. At this stage, we are focussing on those issues where policies in the Plan and the Vision are most relevant. It also enables us to get experience as to how the planning decisions are taken in practice. So we have responded on two cases involving retrospective consent for change of use or potentially noisy machinery as well as an application for House in Multiple Occupation use in a property more suited to less intensive residential use.
We have also engaged with Vitcorp (the owners of the Wilton Road section of the Queen Mother Sports Centre block) to hear about their plan. These are clearly at a very early stage and the Council has also said that its investment funds for sports facilities are fully committed elsewhere. We continue to monitor the situation carefully. It is crucial that the Pimlico Neighbourhood Plan policies, regarding use and height of development are respected in any future developments on this block.
Finally, we were deeply disappointed that the Council removed the alfresco public realm and traffic arrangements in Warwick Way starting in 3rd April 2023, due to a technical legal challenge by someone outside the Pimlico Neighbourhood area, making the Summer more difficult for businesses, residents and other people in Pimlico. The Council is still keen to develop a permanent scheme for the area and we are now expecting a Statutory Traffic Management Order consultation – and then hopefully start of the work for a much improved public realm in time for Summer 2024!
- Westminster City Council and any promoters must ensure that any development of the Queen Mother Sports Centre and within the surrounding block is not too tall and doesn’t represent “creep” from Victoria (Pimlico Neighbourhood Plan Policy PIM 10 covers building heights).
- The existing role of the Queen Mother Sports Centre as a community leisure
facility should be retained. Redevelopment proposals must ensure that the
leisure facility continues to serve the local community and meet Westminsterʼs needs (Policy PIM 23).
- The surrounding terrace in Upper Tachbrook Street (in the Pimlico Conservation Area) and the listed terrace on Gillingham Street must be preserved or enhanced (Policy PIM 23).
- Proposals should explore opportunities to deliver a permanent public pedestrian route through from Wilton Road to Vauxhall Bridge Road, the provision of accessible open space and/or improvements to the public realm in Wilton Road itself (Policy PIM 23).
Full details of these and other policies are in the Pimlico Neighbourhood Plan.
In January 2023, we heard about an organisation calling itself “Pimlico People’s Forum”. We want residents to be clear that this is not the same as the Pimlico Neighbourhood Forum and that we are not linked in any way.
From its website and the Pimlico Post (a free newspaper circulated recently), it appears that this activity is all linked to Vitcorp Ltd – an international property development company that owns some of the properties in Wilton Road that back onto the Queen Mother Sports Centre.
The Pimlico Neighbourhood Plan was approved by a referendum of residents in September 2022 and now applies to any planning application within the Pimlico Neighbourhood Area:
- it includes policies that aim to keep the low-rise village feel that distinguishes Pimlico from the Victoria area to the North and thus is particularly relevant to any development on the block containing the Queen Mother Sports Centre;
- It calls for a sports centre to be retained on this block.
We will keep you posted.
Westminster City Council is consulting on improvements to Warwick Way and Churton Street. Now is the time to give the Council your views on this proposed investment in our area.
Background and Vision
Over the last 20 years, Pimlico’s population has increased by a third, but our main shopping streets have had little public or private investment to keep pace with this. Residents told us they want to be able to do more of their shopping and dining in Pimlico, rather than having to travel outside the area.
The vision for Pimlico in the Neighbourhood Plan calls for improving the public spaces around the shopping areas to make the environment for our local businesses more favourable.
“improve the physical environment of the pavement and the areas immediately adjacent to it. Where possible, there should be a reduction in space dedicated to parking and utility clutter, increasing space for pedestrians or people sitting outside cafés whilst reducing the amount of stop-start driving and cars changing lane because of the road layout.”
In Spring 2022, the Council proposed options for improving some of the shopping streets in North Pimlico, improving on the hospitality scheme opened in June 2020. Since then, they have been carrying out studies and investigations, have come up with improvement scheme for Warwick Way/Upper Tachbrook Street and Churton Street and they are now consulting on a specific proposal.
The Forum Steering Group support this proposal as well as calling for further improvements to Wilton Road (which has had no investment in public space for over 20 years). We want an improvement in the range and health of the businesses in our area to meet the needs of all residents, without creating a major “destination” attracting too much traffic into what is primarily a residential area different from Victoria and Belgravia to the north.
Why you should support the scheme
The Council is consulting on a substantial investment (over £2 million) in hard landscaping. This is the biggest offer for Pimlico public realm for very many years and we are very lucky indeed to have the chance to get anything like this in our area.
We want better shopping streets, with a good mix of healthy, well-run businesses. Having a well-designed, high quality and welcoming public realm will help support our existing shops, encourage new businesses into the area and can reduce crime.
We need easy access for those who live in and visit our area, but we don’t need the vehicles that just drive straight on right through Pimlico. The Council’s traffic study shows that the current one-way scheme has diverted a lot of this unwanted ‘through traffic’ out of Pimlico completely and the proposals seek to improve on this further.
You can make sure that Pimlico’s view has the most weight. While there is strong local support, there is some opposition, including from outside Pimlico, but no convincing alternative proposal for helping Pimlico. So please support the scheme and respond positively to the consultation.
How you can support the scheme
The Council has provided a good consultation website with maps and pictures to show what the scheme would look like: www.westminster.gov.uk/warwick-way-public-realm-consultation.
The response survey is at www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/warwickwayconsultation. It is very quick to complete. However, if you want, there are also comment boxes for any suggestions or concerns on specific aspects.
Specific details you may want to consider…
- Pavement quality: we really want to get proper natural (York) stone rather than concrete paving. This is important, so please consider putting this in the survey ‘comments’ box. We would not want Pimlico to be disadvantaged by having inferior quality materials to other shopping streets in nearby areas.
- Carriageway: there is an interesting suggestion that the road surface should be a lighter colour – some other streets in Westminster now have had a beige surface applied which both reduces heat and acts as a reminder to drivers that they are entering a zone with significant pedestrian traffic. Again, if you like this idea, please put in the comments box.
- The additional new trees: would be a good thing. The new trees will be sited in the new pavement extension area, so away from under pavement vaults. In Churton Street, we want Edinburgh silver birches to match the existing trees. Do you want the same type of tree in Warwick Way?
- Loading bays: obviously businesses will have a particular interest in the siting of loading and pay bays. Do you have a view on how many minutes should be allowed in the loading bays? The loading bays along Warwick Way currently allow at least 30 minutes, should some be reduced to 20 minutes?
- Anything else you feel the Council should know or would like to ask for? Now is the time to tell them and ask!
Don’t let Pimlico miss out!
Even if you have concerns over the specifics of either Churton Street or Warwick Way, please do support the scheme overall. There should be further consultation in 2023 on the final detailed plans, but we need a strong positive response to the survey now to get to the next stage.