Soho Comes Clean

The 88-page study, titled ‘Soho Comes Clean’ represents the culmination of five months’ work by data analytics and city planning consultancies Orbitl and Crystal Associates

Our study makes 18 clear recommendations to achieve a cleaner, greener and healthier Soho, that include the introduction of a Waste Engagement and Enforcement Officer for the area and installing cost-effective, fibre-optic connected CCTV at key fly-tipping trouble spots. It also recommends that WCC conduct a full review of routes and timings, including the possible abolition of one of the collections, or its replacement with a dedicated recycling collection, new consolidation points, the further roll-out of electric waste vehicles and smart bins, and education campaigns to deter fly-tipping and encourage more recycling.

The brief: “to review, investigate, analyse and make recommendations on current waste management practises in Soho, with the twin objectives of changing public behaviour to reduce waste left for long periods on streets and optimising refuse collection movements, with a view to improving air quality and reducing congestion in the neighbourhood.”

The project focused on a sample area bounded by Wardour St to the West, Soho St/Frith St to the East, Oxford St to the North and Old Compton St to the South, including the ‘extensions’ of Dean St, Frith St and Romilly St.

The project team adopted a data-driven approach in order to quantify and qualify the nature and extent of the ‘problem’ and accumulate a body of evidence that could be used to support potential solutions. Over the course of its work, the team engaged with around 130 businesses, large and small, comprising the key sectors of Hospitality, Retail and ‘Other’ (non-hospitality/retail businesses such as recording studios, advertising agencies, galleries and co-working spaces) as well as residents of Soho, through Focus Groups, In-Depth Interviews, a Quantitative Business Survey, and a Street Waste Survey, as well as desk-top research including reviewing the Soho Neighbourhood Plan.

The study is the first of its kind to be carried out in Soho and includes many convention-breaking findings, confirming that:

·       Almost 80% of businesses agree waste is a problem and that hospitality businesses are primarily responsible

·       Around 130 tonnes of waste is generated in Soho every day

·       Recycling in Westminster is low but businesses are trying to do the right thing

·       At least 17 waste providers operate within the focus area

·       Current collection times may be incentivising poor practices

·       More positive engagement is required between the Council and local businesses

The Soho Neighbourhood Forum has made public its bold ambition to remove all waste from Soho streets within 12 months. This first ever in-depth study into the real data behind the dumped bags on the area’s pavements represents a significant first step in that direction.

Councillor Patrick Lilley, WCC's Lead Member for Soho, welcomed the report, calling it 'an historic effort to change Soho for the better'.

SNF Chair, Lucy Haine hailed the study as the most extensive of its kind ever undertaken in the area, adding that ‘SNF and its partners look forward to working closely and collaboratively with Westminster City Council to implement the report's recommendations and deliver a cleaner, greener Soho for the neighbourhood's businesses, residents and visitors'."