BT has been given itself permission to plonk an ugly steel broadband cabinet in front of the Arts and Crafts railings of J D Sedding’s Grade 1 listed Holy Trinity Church, Sloane Street. No one, including this Society, objected to the proposal. (Mea culpa. I failed to spot it. TB)
Until recently, in conservation areas telecoms cabinets like this were subject to a “prior approval” procedure whereby BT automatically got consent for it unless the Council objected to the siting and appearance of what was proposed. This enabled the Council to do what it is required to do by law – to preserve or enhance the character or appearance of a Conservation Area and not harm the setting of a listed building such as Holy Trinity.
This is no longer the case, but this application was handled under the previous rules and the Council went correctly through its bureaucratic motions, noting that the cabinet was small, would be a modest obstruction and that, seen from the distance, it would be dwarfed by Sedding’s fine brick gable. But the Council report also said that, as an existing cabinet would be replaced, and that other cabinets already obscured the railings, the ‘impact’ of the new one would be acceptable.
This is shocking. No cabinets should ever have been allowed on the pavement in front of Sedding’s railings. To anyone walking past, the four mid-green cabinets stick out like sore thumbs and obstruct views of decorated ironwork of exceptional interest and quality – though posters advertising charity Christmas cards are, at present, an added ugliness. This is almost certainly the worst example of street clutter in Chelsea. Can anything be done? We shall see.