This month, we saw major developments surrounding ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, with the great progress of the vaccine roll-out enabling the Prime Minister to set out his cautious roadmap for reopening society.
Following the great victory in January to reject planning proposals for Canons Park Station and save its car park, campaigning continued regarding the similar application for the redevelopment of Stanmore Station car park.
Easing of Lockdown Restrictions
The big news that gives us much to look forward to for the summer came on Monday 22nd, when the Prime Minister detailed his plan for how the country will cautiously remove all legal coronavirus restrictions over the coming months. The first of four stages will begin on 8th March, where we will see the return of all children to the classroom, while people will also be able to meet a relative or a friend outside to socialise. Care home residents will also be allowed a single designated visitor, meaning a child or loved one will be allowed to see their relative for the first time in months.
Some further changes for the first stage will also be introduced on the 29th March, to coincide with the school holidays. The blanket 'stay at home' rule will be removed and the 'rule of six' outdoors for gatherings of friends and family will return. This allows six people from different households, or more than six from two households, to meet outside (in hopefully the better spring weather!). Outdoor sports including those involving teams like football and basketball will also return, along with golf and tennis. The removal of 'stay at home' orders will not impact work at this stage, however, with no change to guidance on people working from home 'where possible'.
The subsequent steps leading up to the ultimate removal of all restrictions are set to take place on 12th April, 17th May and finally on 21st June, although the Government has made clear these are the earliest dates these steps will happen. If the data shows that it is not safe to do so, the Government will delay the progress to the next stage. However, the plan is designed to be a one-way road, making the current lockdown the final one with the goal of being free from all restrictions for the summer.
For the most up to date guidance, please visit gov.uk/coronavirus.
We have seen more tremendous progress on the vaccination front this month, with well over 20 million people having now received a vaccine in total. The programme has gone so well that the Government have brought forward their targets and are now aiming to offer a vaccine to all adults by the end of July.
Public Health England also published a landmark UK study showing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine provides effective protection against Covid-19 from the first dose. The report proves the vaccines are working and that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine offers a high degree of protection to those that take it. This includes reducing hospitalisation and death by 75 per cent after the first dose, while also reducing transmission, helping to protect others.
As the programme continues and more people are invited for a vaccine, make sure to book your test as soon as you are asked to do so, to protect yourself and your loved ones. However, remember that the NHS will contact you when it is your turn, so people should wait to be invited before attempting to make a vaccine appointment.
Station Car Parks
Having had great success in January with the Canons Park proposals, we still await a decision on the application for the redevelopment of Stanmore Station application car park. I hope that Harrow Council’s Planning Committee will issue a similar verdict on this equally inadequate proposal.
The Government has recently agreed amendments to the London Plan which prevent high rise buildings in areas of suburban London. I am also lobbying Harrow Council to recognise that this means that the planning application submitted is non-compliant with these policies and should therefore be refused, and I know that councillors are also working hard to stop it.