City of Westminster
Item No: 5
Date: 10 July 2006
For General Release
Draft Action Plan for Soho
Title of Report:
Director of Planning and City Development
Policy context: One City
Delivery of the action plan will be met through
existing City Council budgets, partnership resources
and other external funding sources.
020 7641 1915
1.1 The report seeks Cabinet approval to publish the draft Soho Action Plan,
attached at Appendix 1, for wider public consultation. The draft Action Plan
has been developed in partnership with the Soho Contact Group and
establishes a vision for the area that acknowledges its important role as a
residential area and values its cosmopolitan spirit, its function as a shopping
and eating area, and its contribution to tourism. It cites 80 proposals, some of
which are already underway.
1.2 The programme of actions contained in the Plan does not require extra City
Council funding. It relies in part on co-ordinating the use of existing Council
budgets, and on drawing in external funding from other public agencies and
the private sector.
2.1 Approves the City Council’s draft Action Plan for Soho (attached as Appendix
1) for the purposes of formal public consultation.
2.2 Agrees that any revision to the draft Action Plan and the mechanisms for
consultation, as set out in draft in paragraph 7.2, be determined by the
Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Transport.
2.3 Notes that the proposals in the draft Action Plan incur no additional financial
commitment on behalf of the City Council and that the proposals will be
achieved within existing Council budgets and with further capital and revenue
expenditure being sought from external sources.
3.1 In early 2005, the Soho Issues Paper was drafted which highlighted possible
areas for action within a defined area. This is the area housed in between
Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus tube stations, and
Cambridge Circus (see map in Appendix 3). Further input was necessary
from the local community and the first step was the formation of a steering
group. This was set up, guided by Soho Sector Steering Group members,
Kairos in Soho, the Soho Family Centre, Soho Society, Landowners and a
Hotelier. Suggestions from this group then formed the basis for the Soho
Contact Group (see 3.2).
3.2 Established in September 2005 through an initiative taken by the Cabinet
Member for Economic Development and Transport, the Soho Contact Group
has met on a regular basis to discuss issues affecting the area of Soho.
3.3 The Group has brought together representatives from a range of interests and
has built consensus on ways and means for improving the area’s economy
and environment. Chaired by Councillor Danny Chalkley with input from West
End Ward Councillors and Council officers, the Soho Contact Group
comprises representatives of the following:
Residents’ associations (The Soho Society, Dufours Place Community
Association and Kemp House Residents’ Association)
Key landowners (Shaftesbury PLC, Crown Estates, Soho Estates)
Metropolitan Police (West End Central Police Station)
Safety representation (Soho Sector Steering Group, Community Safety
Hoteliers (Soho Hotel/Firmdale Group, Best Western Premier
Business associations (Soho Business Association, The Gay Business
Association, I Love Soho)
LGBT representation (Kairos in Soho)
Family and Caring representation (Westminster Primary Care Trust,
Soho Family Centre, Westminster Advocacy Service for Senior
Residents, Soho Caring Agencies Forum, Soho Green)
Licensed Sex Trade (Janus London)
Educational establishments (Soho Parish School, Westminster
Soho Housing Association
Marshall Street Regeneration Ltd
Media representation (Turner Broadcasting System Europe, UK Post
Large retailers (Liberty)
Small retailers (So High Soho)
Market Traders (Berwick Street)
Licensees (Milk and Honey Bar, Candy Bar)
Religious representation (St Patrick’s Church); and
4 Action Plan Process
4.1 Action Plans form part of the City Council’s Civic Renewal programme for the
West End and have already proved effective catalysts for change in Leicester
Square, Chinatown, Covent Garden and Edgware Road. Their production is a
tried-and-tested, bottom-up process that begins by pulling together a range of
issues and ideas into draft lists of actions for circulation and discussion. The
lists inevitably go through a series of amendments during informal
consultation while building support. This forms the basis of the draft Action
Plan that is then written and formally consulted upon.
4.2 The Soho Draft Action Plan was guided by
ideas and issues raised at the Soho Contact Group
matters arising from the Soho Issues Paper
discussions with service providers with the Council
discussions with other public agencies, and
Ward Member input
4.3 It is evident that partnership working is critical to the City Council in producing
the draft Action Plan. This is not least because Soho is made up of many
small, independent businesses, two street markets, over xxxx residents, a
primary school, large landowners and larger businesses, and is a major focal
point in London for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender)
4.4 The work of the Soho Contact Group is also of vital importance. The Group
has acted as a sounding board, reviewing and commenting extensively on the
draft Action List during its production. Group members have taken the Action
List back to their residents’ or business associations for wider comment and
have fed these comments back to us. In one case, a survey of 320 people
was carried out on a one-to-one basis. The Soho Contact Group and Ward
Members were invited to comment on the text of the draft Action Plan itself
5 Soho Action Plan
5.1 A draft Action Plan for Soho is attached as Appendix 1. The draft Plan sets
out a broad vision that seeks to capture the essence of the One City
Programme, with a twist that applies particularly to Soho. This is the mix of
people, businesses, and communities that make Soho such a fantastic place
to live, work, visit, learn, invest and be creative. Its distinctive shops,
restaurants and cosmopolitan image are all important features that contribute
not only to the local economy but to tourism in central London.
5.2 In support of this vision the Action Plan identifies 79 actions to improve the
area. Some are already underway, such as the introduction of the new Civic
Watch and Safer Neighbourhood Teams, and others may well be completed
by the end of the consultation period. The key message here is that in
drafting the Plan the Council and its partners are demonstrating their
commitment to action. The actions are divided into the four themes of the
One City programme and sit in between the One Soho and conclusion
5.3 Appendix 2 (to be tabled at the meeting) gives an indication of the proposed
design and layout of the draft Action Plan. The final version of the
consultation document will include forewords from key partners of the Plan.
Large print, Braille and audio versions and translations into other languages
will be available on request. It is therefore recommended that authority should
be given to the Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Transport to
agree the final document for consultation purposes.
5.4 A map of the area covered by the Soho Action Plan is provided in Appendix 3.
Soho is in the area neatly housed by Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Circus
and Piccadilly Circus tube stations, and Cambridge Circus. The main
shopping streets to the north and to the west of the area are covered by the
Draft Action Plan for Oxford Street, Regent Street and New and Old Bond
Streets, and Shaftesbury Avenue is covered by the Theatreland Initiative.
6. Key Issues
6.1 Of the many issues and proposals identified in the draft Action Plan, under the
headings of residents and communities, crime and safety, clean and clear
streets, education, cultural services, encouraging enterprise and visitors,
working with Soho’s businesses, renewal of some areas of Soho, there are a
number of issues covered below:
6.2 Partnership working has been a key feature in drafting the Action Plan and will
be critical in its successful implementation. The Soho Contact Group has a
lead role to play in ensuring partnership working and will continue to be
serviced by the City Council.
6.3 One of the key themes of our consultation work up until this point has been
that of residents and communities in Soho. These have been made a high
priority in the plan and are wide ranging dealing with issues from Education to
6.4 Crime and the fear of crime are key issues raised in consultations with local
residents and businesses. CivicWatch is about to be rolled out to include
Soho, which will support the existing City Guardians and the Safer
Neighbourhood Police Team, is in the early stages of its work. The Action
Plan supports the work of the Police and City Guardians, and promotes joint
working to maximise their effects.
6.5 Soho is a designated stress area under the Council’s Unitary Development
Plan and its Statement of Licensing Policy. These policies constrain any
further growth in late night entertainment uses due to the cumulative impact of
existing premises. The draft Soho Action Plan has been written to conform
and reinforce with these policies as the draft Action Plan is a document to
which the Council’s Licensing Policy refers.
6.6 The diversity within Soho’s people and businesses is highly prized and the
Action Plan seeks to protect and support this. Soho’s prominence as a place
that welcomes the LGBT community is an example of this. One of our actions
is to explore the feasibility of establishing a LGBT community centre, for
example. Another key theme, following consultation, is that of Soho’s mix of
business. There are strong feelings that Soho should attract and retain small,
independent retailers, and that its markets should be revitalised. Promoting
Berwick Street as Soho’s local high street is one such way in which to take
6.7 The draft Action Plan is intended to deliver a consistent message with the
One City Programme and reflects the full range of diversity. It uses language
intended to recognise and value the whole Soho community. This approach
will allow all those involved to feel fully recognised but without giving the
impression that any particular group or identity is being promoted at the
expense of others.
7.1 The Ward members have been consulted throughout the drafting process and
their comments on this final draft will be included within the final Draft Soho
Action Plan and/or reported directly to Cabinet.
7.2 The draft Plan was issued to members of the Soho Contact Group and
Council Officers from every department for comments throughout the drafting
process. Responses were received from the Soho Society, Dufours Place
Community Association and Kemp House Residents’ Association,
Shaftesbury PLC, Kairos in Soho, Soho Sector Steering Group, Soho
Hotel/Firmdale Group, Soho Business Association, Westminster Primary Care
Trust, Soho Family Centre, Westminster Advocacy Service for Senior
Residents, Soho Parish School, Westminster Kingsway College, Marshall
Street Regeneration Ltd, Turner Broadcasting System Europe, Liberty, Milk
and Honey Bar and Market Traders, City Council officers, some of which are
The Soho Society has engaged positively with the process and
recognised that there is a good balance between short-term aims and
some over-arching aspirations. However, they have raised a number of
concerns, particularly around noise, licensing and enforcement. Changes
have been made to the draft Action Plan as a result, in consultation with
the Cabinet Member for Licensing and Community Protection.
Shaftesbury PLC is very supportive of the plan. It is especially pleased
with the importance attached to shopping in the area and proposed public
realm improvements in the plan. It is supportive of our plans for
consultation and has helped with identifying businesses that would be
willing to promote the plan. Shaftesbury suggested we use the One City
format and this has proved invaluable in producing a clear and concise
plan that is easily linked to the City Council’s programme for improvements
across all services.
Kairos in Soho is very supportive of the final draft of the Soho Action Plan
and they approached their response to us differently. Towards the end of
last year, they undertook a survey of 325 people to find out what they
wanted from the Action Plan. Their findings were very positive and they
found that the respondents most valued the LGBT presence in Soho, as it
creates a sense of belonging. They also found that 95% wanted a LGBT
Community Centre in Soho. Kairos in Soho has told us it is committed to
continued collaboration with all partners to create a vibrant, safe, diverse
and creative Soho.
7.3 It is recommended that the draft Action Plan be agreed for the purposes of
public consultations with the wording of any amendments arising from the
Cabinet meeting or any editorial changes to the document being agreed by
the Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Transport.
7.4 The public consultation will run for a minimum period of six weeks, during
which the document and a response card will be delivered to local
businesses, residents and public agencies within the Action Plan area. Some
businesses that have agreed to take an active part in the public consultation
will be encouraging their staff and customers to fill in comments cards either
at local establishments or on online. For the duration of the consultation
period the Action Plan Project Team is hoping to be located part-time in Soho
to enable members of the public to come and discuss the plan and fill our
comments cards on site. A public meeting will also be arranged to present
and discuss the Action Plan, as well as a launch event, though dates for these
have yet to be determined. Arrangements will be made in consultation with
the Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Transport.
8. Financial Implications
8.1 The Action Plan programme proposed in this report does not seek any extra
Council funding. Its delivery will be met through the use and co-ordination of
existing Council budgets and by drawing on external funds, harnessing
partnership resources. This will be made clear in the foreword to the Action
8.2 Opportunities to secure external funding are likely to arise from sources such
as contributions from key landowners and S106 (planning benefits). Having
an agreed action plan that demonstrates partnership working and commitment
to the area is important in generating the necessary confidence in funding
agencies and businesses to secure their support.
8.3 Regarding carrying out the public consultations, the associated costs are
contained within Planning and City Development Budgets.
9 Legal and Equalities Implications
9.1 Under a statutory code issued pursuant to the Race Relations (Amendment)
Act 2000 there is a requirement to carry out a Race Equality Impact
Assessment in those instances where a new policy, practice or procedure is
being developed or where existing arrangements are being reviewed. We will
carry out a full Equalities Impact Assessment which will encompass that. A
screening exercise in relation to the draft Action Plan will be carried out by the
West End Team to identify where proposed actions will have different impacts
upon different racial groups and whether those impacts may be potentially
adverse. The assessment will be carried out during the consultation period
and reported back to Cabinet with the results of the public consultations later
in the year. Previous assessments will be used to inform the process.
9.2 As the Action Plan was put together working with all sectors of the Soho
community and seeks to promote the area’s diversity, there are unlikely to be
any major new implications arising from the assessment.
9.3 Gender and disability considerations will be assessed through the Equalities
9.4 Additionally, as part of the consultation we will be carrying out monitoring of
consultees by including an optional questionnaire for people to complete to tell
us whether they work, live or visit Soho as well as their ethnic minority status,
gender and sexual orientation. This will provide valuable information about
who is reading and taking an interest in the Plan and how this affects their
opinion of it.
9.5 The Health Check for this report is attached (appendix four – Note to Strategy
Group - this is currently being worked on and will be available for the Cabinet).
10 Staffing Implications
10.1 Programme management is being handled by the West End Team, a core
group of officers from Planning, Transportation, Environment and
Communications, reporting to the Director of Planning and City Development.
No staffing changes are proposed as part of this report.
11 Crime and Disorder Act
11.1 Addressing issues of crime and disorder and working in partnership with the
Police are key to the Action Plan approach. The Order chapter refers to the
recent introduction of the Safer Neighbourhood Team in the Soho area and
working with the City Council’s City Guardian service. The Metropolitan
Police sit on the Soho Contact Group and have been consulted in drawing
together the draft Action Plan.
12. Conclusion/ Reasons for Decision
12.1 The draft Action Plan for Soho sets the direction for the City Council and its
partners to improve the area’s economic vitality and environmental quality. It
covers aspects of identity, transport, local amenity, personal safety and
security, and tourism, and fits within the Council’s One City programme. The
document is to be released for public consultation, which will run during
September and October 2006, the results of which will be reported back to
Cabinet in February 2007.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUERIES ABOUT THIS REPORT OR WISH TO
INSPECT ANY OF THE BACKGROUND PAPERS, PLEASE CONTACT
LYDIA CLARKSON ON 020 7641 1915 OR email@example.com
1 Draft Action Plan for Soho
2 Illustrative document (to be tabled at Cabinet)
3 Map of the Soho Action Plan Area
4 Health Impact Assessment (to be tabled at Cabinet)