Labour councillors and the West End Action Team have written to Westminster Council’s Business Chief Matthew Green urging him to intervene to ensure the needs of residents and hospitality businesses are appropriately balanced in Soho.
Labour’s intervention follows numerous complaints received by Soho Cllr Pancho Lewis. Residents have raised a number of concerns about the mismanagement of the Council’s covid al fresco scheme, particularly with regards to noise levels.
Like local residents, Labour recognises that Soho is a unique and special neighbourhood with a greater concentration of hospitality businesses than other parts of the City. However, it is making the argument that to build a sustainable future for the neighbourhood – where residents, hospitality businesses, and other businesses like post-production studios can co-exist harmoniously – it is necessary to balance the interests of every business sector and those who live in the area carefully and sensitively.
In that light, Labour is calling for the introduction of noise monitoring equipment on the streets that have been worst affected by noise pollution. Data collected by noise monitoring equipment should form part of the Council’s assessment about how to plan for Soho’s future once existing covid arrangements – specifically road closures – come to a close at the end of September.
The letter has been backed by Labour candidates standing for the ward – Paul Fisher, Patrick Lilley, and Jessica Toale.
We are writing to you about steps that we believe need to be taken in regards to the Council’s al fresco scheme. Across much of Westminster the scheme has been successful in helping businesses stay open and bring vibrancy back to our city. However in a number of specific locations the scheme has had a significant negative impact on the quality of life for local people.
West End residents continue to raise significant concerns with Cllr Lewis about the impact of the covid al fresco scheme on quality of life in Soho. On the streets most affected by road closures, including but not limited to Dean St, Bateman St, Frith St, and Old Compton St, extreme noise pollution is having a serious impact on residents’ quality of life and in some cases their very mental health. Residents in Soho have long accepted that their unique position at the heart of the city means being accommodating to the needs of hospitality businesses and that included a reasonable degree of activity, indeed more so than almost any other residents, but particularly in some of the narrower streets the impact of the al fresco scheme has led to a dramatic change in their circumstances – that includes more people and crowds on the streets after streets reopen, a significant increase in people drinking and eating directly outside their homes on the street every day of the week, and more buskers and street entertainers often flouting rules around noise.
We’re therefore writing to urge the Council install noise monitoring equipment on the streets most affected in order to objectively measure the scale of the problem so that its plans for the future can be evidence led. The data would also form a crucial component of the Council’s ongoing consideration about next steps for the al fresco scheme, in the context of the changing Covid-19 regulations and seasons, when the current arrangements come to a close at the end of September.
We will happily provide a full list of streets where we believe noise monitoring equipment should be installed.
We look forward to hearing back from you.
Cllrs Pancho Lewis, Adam Hug, and Paul Dimoldenberg”