We have now heard about our Forum area designation. The full decision is available on Westminster's website and a link to this and a map of the designated area can be found on our website. There appears a certain amount of confusion about whether this decision has affected the area covered by the Marylebone Association: it has not. The two organisations remain distinct with different albeit fairly similar boundaries. The Forum area designated is smaller than that applied for and therefore the aspiration to incorporate the whole of Marylebone to the Camden boundary within the Forum has not been realised. The western boundary will be mainly one building back from Great Portland Street which means that the buildings along both sides of much of Great Portland Street will be lost to us. This is disappointing as there was much support amongst residents and members in this area to be included within the Marylebone Forum. On the plus side our area does cover the BBC and the area east of Oxford Circus to Great Portland Street. Our final application was submitted jointly with The St Marylebone Society and we are pleased to confirm that part of the area that they cover, to the north of Marylebone Road, will be in the Forum although not Regents Park itself. This was originally inserted on guidance by Westminster but was removed as the Royal Parks wish to be outside the Forum system.
It should be mentioned that, to the surprise of many, we have been designated as a business area. Westminster undertook an analysis of the Forum area and found that, on floor space, 61% is occupied by business and others while only 39% is residential. Of course as residents occupy on average far less floor space than business this could be seen as a questionable criterion to use. Anyway Westminster have decided that this is sufficient to satisfy the statutory requirement of 'wholly or predominantly business in nature'. In any event the only practical effect of being a business area is that rate payers as well as residents would get a vote on any neighbourhood plan that may be eventually submitted to a referendum in our area. It does not alter the makeup of the Forum itself, neither does it make it a business forum. Indeed there is no such thing as a business forum and all neighbourhood forums, regardless of their location, should consist of a representative mix of those who live and work in the neighbourhood area and involve a genuine partnership between all the occupants of the area.
Now that the scope of our area has finally been decided we can move on towards designation of our Neighbourhood Forum and find representatives and other volunteers to act on behalf of that Forum. We are actively looking for people to help in this regard and have had many useful offers of assistance already. We still need more help so please do not hesitate to contact us if you feel that you would like to play a role in this project, or if you just wish to find out more about it.