In no small way, it is thanks to SEBRA’s vigilance over more than 40 years that Bayswater remains a civilised and peaceful backwater. Our streets are cleaner, transport links (always good) have improved further, regeneration of the Paddington Basin area has largely been completed, hotels are going up-market, and families are moving back into our area.
SEBRA cannot claim that the positive changes outlined above were all of our making. But we can claim to have had a significant and positive effect. We have played a major part in seeing off various threats which have arisen over the years. It is revealing to compare what has in fact happened with what might have been, had it not been for SEBRA.
Funding for maintaining and improving our local environment is under increasing pressure, local shops are still being lost to fast-food takeaways and restaurants, and traffic is still a problem in many streets. Due to high property values there is inexorable pressure to build on every inch of spare space – now mainly by excavating basements, often with the loss of a garden – because building upwards is well controlled.
We also face disruption, in some places quite prolonged, due to the construction of Crossrail. Part of the surface railway, the tunnel portal, the station below Eastbourne Terrace (closed to through traffic until 2014), and the tunnel beneath Spring Street and Sussex Gardens all lie in our area. But we must bear in mind that, in the long term, Crossrail will bring nothing but good. SEBRA is playing a major part in representing the needs and concerns of all local people and visitors (especially road users) to Crossrail, Transport for London and Westminster City Council.
SEBRA deals mainly with Westminster City Council because it is responsible for town planning, licensing, traffic and the general street environment, but we are also in regular contact with our local MPs and Greater London Authority members.
A major part of SEBRA’s work is in considering planning applications and making comments and representations on them in time to influence their outcome. We are fortunate that our local authority listens, and does take consultation seriously. Every year we comment on some 250 to 300 planning applications and architects’ drawings. It is rare that we make an out-and-out negative objection – rather we almost always make constructive suggestions for improvements, which are often accepted by the applicants. It is much the same with licensing applications – we frequently see to it that useful conditions are imposed to limit opening hours, the size of licensed premises, etc.
Thanks to this careful and responsible work over many years, SEBRA’s influence is considerable, and we do much good. The only drawback of this is that what we do is less obvious than in SEBRA’s early days, when we had big causes and had to make a lot of noise about them publicly. Now much of our work is behind the scenes – and all the more effective – but it is less obvious. Nonetheless, we continue to need the support of all our members if we are to continue the effort to keep Bayswater the pleasant and peaceful place that it is.
SEBRA Licensing and Planning Guidelines
SEBRA’s policy on Licensing and Planning in our area is set out below.
Westminster City Council is keen to encourage consultation on licensing and planning applications. SEBRA is notified of all applications affecting its area and some neighbouring streets, and the Committee considers all of them – more than 300 every year. SEBRA frequently objects to applications, or to specific features of them, and regularly appears at Licensing Hearings and at Planning Appeals and other hearings to argue for its views.
1. GENERAL AIMS
1.1 To make Bayswater a better place in which to live and to work, and for people to visit, by preserving and enhancing the area’s existing diversity of character and uses and by improving its facilities, amenities and environment, particularly for local residents.
1.2 To protect the interests of local residents, traders and workers and, where necessary, to give precedence to local community needs over those of the tourist and entertainment industry.
2. POLICIES OF GENERAL APPLICATION
2.1 To influence Government and Council planning and licensing policies so as to be consistent with the overall aim of sustaining the quality if life for the Bayswater local community.
2.2 To ensure that planning and licensing applications comply with the policies set out in the City Council’s Unitary Development Plan and other approved policies and guidance documents of the Government and City Council.
2.3 To encourage the maintenance of Bayswater primarily as a residential area with adequate services to meet local needs.
2.4 To insist on high standards of design and execution of buildings and all signage.
2.5 To support existing services for residents such as schools, libraries, parks, squares, sports, leisure and medical facilities, public conveniences, launderettes and businesses serving the local community; and to encourage the City Council to treat Bayswater as a residential area in this respect.
2.6 To promote the retention of established shopping frontages where these provide, or have traditionally provided, outlets for local needs.
2.7 To consider each planning or licence application on its individual merits within the context of the area as a whole and not solely in relation to its immediate surroundings, taking into account the cumulative effect of individual applications, and to support proposals which would be likely to prove beneficial to the locality.
2.8 To resist any proposal which would result in a reduction in the standards of accommodation or occupation, both residential and commercial, but to encourage developments which seek to improve those standards subject to good planning practice.
2.9 To discourage development which would significantly increase the density or change the nature of the residential and business population or unreasonably increase the size of the workforce employed in the area.
2.10 To resist further commercialisation of Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park.
3. POLICIES ON SPECIFIC LICENSING ASPECTS
3.1.To respond to Government and Council consultation and to influence licensing policy by conveying to the authorities the needs and expectations of the local community for the protection of residential amenity.
3.2 To resist ‘creeping’ commercial night-time activity and the move to all-night drink availability.
3.3 To object to licence applications and renewals which would impact adversely on residential amenity in respect of noise, smells or other forms of nuisance, traffic and parking, taking their cumulative effect into consideration.
3.4 To ensure that any licences granted have conditions imposed to protect residential amenity in the adjacent and surrounding areas.
3.5 To ensure that premises within the Bayswater area comply with all licensing regulations.
4. POLICIES ON SPECIFIC PLANNING ASPECTS
4.1 LAND USE
4.1.1 To resist loss of A1 (Retail Use) to A2 (Banks/Building Societies/Betting Shops) and especially to A3 (Restaurants and Bars), together with creeping change to Coffee Shops/Patisseries.
4.1.2 To resist change from A2 (Banks/Building Societies/Betting Shops) to A3 (Restaurants and Bars) and if change is to occur, to encourage A2 to A1.
4.1.3 To encourage A1 (Retail) use on main frontages and secondary parades so as to provide shops for residents and to resist telephone call shops, betting shops, amusement arcades, estate agents, sex-related shops and bureaux de change.
4.1.4 To resist the loss of residential accommodation above shops and to encourage the use of vacant properties as residential accommodation.
4.1.5 To resist the conversion of residential into business premises except as part of a composite proposal which includes the provision of replacement residential accommodation.
4.1.6 To encourage family size units with good-sized rooms and to resist intensive use by too many bedsit/studio and one-bedroom flats.
4.1.7 To resist the use of permanent residences for short term letting and to discourage their use for company letting.
4.1.8 To preserve the essentially residential character of mews throughout the area.
4.1.9 To encourage the retention of small business premises and local service light industrial workshops, and to resist the extension of general office uses.
4.1.10 To resist new hotels and extensions to existing hotel accommodation, and to encourage the upgrading of existing hotels without increase of bed spaces or the installation of large conference facilities.
4.1.11 To protect existing traditional hostel use provided it is not detrimental to local residential amenity and, if to be lost, to support change only to permanent residential use.
4.1.12 To protect public houses and resist their conversion to restaurants or other uses.
4.1.13 To resist loss of gardens, garden walls, railings and gates to provide off-street parking and to encourage their reinstatement subject to high standards of design.
4.1.14 To resist any development at the rear of buildings which leads to loss of light.
4.2 CONSERVATION AND DESIGN
4.2.1 To encourage restoration of listed buildings and those in Conservation Areas and to retain the substance and character of historic buildings in so far as is practicable and justified, but to consider favourably modest alterations which would extend the useful life of a building and contribute to its long term maintenance and viability.
4.2.2 To avoid changing the traditional rooflines of buildings (except where appropriate by the addition of a mansard storey subject to conformity with the City Council’s guidelines on design, or where the extension constitutes a minor infilling between existing higher buildings) and, in particular, to resist any proposal in relation to a developed site which would reduce daylight or sunlight to, or views of sky from, existing residential premises.
4.2.3 To resist the construction of high buildings whose height, bulk and design would have a detrimental impact on views, especially from or within conservation areas or from the Royal Parks.
4.2.4 To resist additions to existing buildings which would increase the height, bulk or impact to the detriment of views, especially from or within conservation areas or from the Royal Parks.
4.2.5 To avoid changing the appearance of buildings by the addition of inappropriate frontages or fenestration.
188.8.131.52 To encourage traditional shop fronts where appropriate and in traditional materials.
184.108.40.206 To resist open shop fronts particularly on public houses, restaurants and cafés.
220.127.116.11 To resist solid or perforated roller shutters on shops and only accept lattice type which should be inside shops and only when absolutely necessary.
18.104.22.168 To resist closed circuit television cameras, except where absolutely necessary and installed as unobtrusively as possible.
4.2.6 To resist any redevelopment schemes that are out of scale with the existing character of the area in size or design.
4.2.7 To resist applications for communications masts, aerials, satellite dishes and the like in locations visible from ground level or from surrounding premises, though inconspicuous locations at the back may be acceptable.
4.2.8 To ensure that the location, design, size and colour of alarm boxes are in keeping with the facade of the building and the adjoining properties.
4.3 THE LOCAL ENVIRONMENT AND VISUAL AMENITY
4.3.1 To resist plans which would increase noise, smells, dirt or other nuisance or would be likely to prejudice the health, safety or comfort of the local community.
4.3.2 To resist all mechanical and ventilation equipment that is not contained within the building envelope.
4.3.3 To encourage the relevant authorities to achieve the highest possible standards in refuse collection, cleansing and recycling facilities.
4.3.4 To encourage new or redevelopments to contribute to landscaping and greening, and to incorporate proper refuse storage.
4.3.5 To support the maintenance and improvement of existing street squares, parks, public spaces and trees.
4.3.6 To resist proliferation of flags, flagpoles and exterior signage and to secure their rapid removal where unauthorised.
4.3.7 To resist advertising bill boards except on a development site as part of an approved hoarding scheme of good design.
4.3.8 To resist proliferation of telephone boxes but to express a preference for K6 boxes where appropriate.
4.4 TRAFFIC AND PARKING
4.4.1 To support all initiatives aimed at improving and extending transport services except in side streets.
4.4.2 To support pedestrian priority schemes and traffic calming measures.
4.4.3 To resist plans which would unreasonably increase traffic flows or deprive the local residential and business communities of adequate parking facilities, and to support plans which would result in decreased traffic density.
4.4.4 To support plans which would discourage the movement and parking of HGVs or coaches except in roads and areas specifically designed for the purpose.
4.4.5 To press for cycling facilities, such as properly-signed bicycle lanes, cycle-racks, cycle phases on traffic lights etc. and to encourage cyclists to behave responsibly and not to ride on the pavements at any time.
4.4.6 To resist commuter parking, or any non‑residential on or off-street parking, other than for delivery or local service purposes, and to press for rigorous monitoring and control of parking by Westminster City Council.
4.4.7 To resist loss of existing residential parking including mews house conversion of garages to rooms, unless they have more than one garage.
4.5.1 To encourage the provision of affordable housing where appropriate.
4.5.2 To encourage all developments and alterations to provide for the disabled, elderly and those with young children, particularly as regards access and lavatories.
4.5.3 To resist the use of tables and chairs on pavements outside restaurants, public houses, cafes and the like, except where there can be no loss of residential amenity or obstruction of pedestrian flow.
5. PLANNING GAINS
When deciding whether to support or resist a planning application the Association will count the provision of any of the following as a community benefit, to be balanced against the disruptions and losses consequent upon any planning permission being implemented.
5.1 Traffic calming measures such as, according to circumstances, pinch points, speed tables, speed humps, narrowed access at junctions, etc. (Note that speed tables, unlike speed humps, allow un-impeded passage of wide wheel-base vehicles, eg. fire engines, ambulances, but oblige cars to slow down).
5.2 Pedestrian refuges, pavement widening or other measures to improve pedestrian comfort and safety.
5.3 Bicycle racks, lanes or other facilities for cyclists.
5.4 Special features such as fountains, trees, seats, public art, open spaces, signage, etc.
5.5 Public, social and environmental facilities, particularly at ground floor level.
5.6 Permanent public lavatories with long hours and disabled and baby care facilities.
5.7 On-site waste disposal and recycling facilities for the users of the site and the immediate neighbourhood, linked to the general refuse-collection service.
5.8 Improvements to local social and leisure facilities, eg schools, health centres, sports facilities, day centres for the elderly.
5.9 Other planning gains will be considered on merit.