Paul Fisher, Patrick Lilley and Jess Toale
Paul Fisher, Patrick Lilley and Jess Toale

The latest news from Councillor Pancho Lewis and Labour Candidates Paul Fisher, Patrick Lilley and Jess Toale


Dean Street

The Council has given planning permission for a new nine storey ‘mega-hostel- in Dean Street despite strong opposition from residents. The nine-storey hostel includes 775 beds with a huge roof terrace. The current hostel on the site can host up to 295 visitors and is currently also home to Soho Coffee Club. Labour Councillor Geoff Barraclough voted against the plans.

Berwick Street

We have asked the Council to explain the state of chaos in Berwick Street with multiple road and construction projects happening together. One local business says:

“What has happened to Berwick Street? I’ve had to move contractors barriers so that the pavement on the West Side can be used. The pavement is blocked at the corner of D’Arblay Street junction on the East Side. A scaffold lorry is unable to move from Berwick Street as the street in front and behind have been dug up. You have licensed too many contractors to work all at once on a street that is already struggling to cope. I cannot understand the logic in allowing this chaos to happen.”

And a resident says:

“There seems to be no system for advising residents if a crucial access route is closed for work like this. Shouldn’t residents be advised of such matters?”

Dufour’s Place

Tenants at 1-6 Dufour’s Place, Soho, which is owned by Westminster City Council, say they are worried about their health as they wait for someone to sort a leak that has attracted flies and caused their walls and ceilings to bubble. Sam Taylor has been living with damp ceilings and walls in his kitchen and bathroom since late August. Sam said he has since reported the issue three times to Westminster City Council and various plumbers have looked at the property but he is still waiting for it to be fixed. “I just want them to stop the water coming in. It’s gone on a bit too long.”

Foubert’s Place

The Council has approved an application for a two-storey roof extension to an office building at 45 Foubert’s Place. This followed on from an approved but not yet implemented application for a single-storey extension to the building. Objections had been received from local residents on grounds of daylight impact and disturbance from the terracing. Councillors voted three-to-one to approve the application, with Labour Councillor Butler-Thalassis objecting to the daylight impact and lack of guarantee that the whole building would be subject to renovation.

Women in 60s Soho

Rachel Cooke writes about women who were at the heart of Soho in the 1960s

Soho in the movies

Kim Newman leads a tour round 15 memorable movie locations in Soho and surrounds.


Riding House Street

Linus Rees writes about the ‘nightmare on Riding House Street’ as Westminster Council plans to re-open the street to motor vehicles.

Hanson Street

We have urged the Council to improve its system of sending recycling bags to residents after it has taken well over a month for a Hanson Street resident to receive the recycling bags they ordered, despite filling in the on-line request form a number of times. The Council spends £50 million a year on its refuse collection system so this sort of issue should not be a problem. 

Holcroft Court 

We are continuing to help Holcroft Court residents with assistance on a range of housing issues.

IKEA, Oxford Street

The former Topshop store on Oxford Street has been purchased by Ikea for £378 million. The Swedish furniture says it will open a store here by Autumn 2023 which will include 5,000 products on show (out of its total range of 10,000). Ikea’s presence at Oxford Street is a major confidence boost for area which currentlyhas a 13.5% vacancy rate.

The announcement also comes at a time when a string of Oxford Street department stores are seeking, or have been granted permission, to refurbish themselves into mixed-use buildings, with small retail outfits on the ground floor complemented by office, restaurant, bar, cafe, and leisure activities above.


Conduit Street

A proposal to extend the Westbury Hotel on Conduit Street by the re-construction of the sixth and seventh floors, the erection of two additional storeys at roof level, and a full-height rear extension has been refused. Planning Officers recommended the application for refusal noting that the proposals would have an ‘adverse impact on the appearance of the building, the character and appearance of the Mayfair conservation area and the setting of neighbouring listed buildings.’ The Design Officer was particularly stinging in his assessment noting that the extension ‘was elephantine, that was completely unacceptable.’ The application was unanimously refused.

Park Lane

Dave Hill writes about the temporary cycle lane on Park Lane

£6 Million Marble Arch Mound

Westminster Council has released its internal review of the £6 Million Marble Arch fiasco which saw costs escalate from £2 million to £6.6 million in a matter of months. As the report finds, “despite clear and repeated warnings”, the Mound was left unfinished and plans to recoup costs with entry charges had to be scrapped. The review has found:

“There was a breakdown of project management of the Mound which, amongst other issues, led to confusion over roles and responsibilities, a lack of communication between staff and contractors working on different elements of the Marble Arch Mound project and a basic lack of project coordination and documentation.” 

The Council rejected Labour’s call for a full independent inquiry of how and why the costs had increased and why there was a basic lack of financial control. The subsequent ‘internal review’ has failed to ask key questions about the Council’s failure to apply basic financial controls on this high-profile project. The ‘internal review’, as expected, also fails to ask questions about the involvement of the Leader of the Council and Cabinet Members in making decisions regarding the cost increases.

For a report on the Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 27th October, see

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