The Planning Applications Committee of RBKC heard an application on 27th June 2019 to convert the old telephone exchange in Mallord St. into a school. The Committee (Cllrs. Husband (Chairman) Bakhtiar, Idris, and Evans) decided unanimously to refuse the application.
The Chelsea Society was represented at the meeting by the Chairman of its Planning Committee, Michael Stephen, who said:
“The Chelsea Society was formed in 1927 to preserve and enhance the amenities of Chelsea for the public benefit, and it has today more than a thousand members. The Society does not often make oral representations to this Committee, but this application is of such importance that we think it is necessary.
The Society objects to the application for the following reasons:
1. The building and its location are inappropriate for a school with over 400 pupils, plus teaching and administrative staff. Mallord St is a quiet residential street in a Conservation Area. It is narrow with parking bays on both sides, in effect making the street a single lane.
2. The congestion resulting from inevitable drop-offs and pick-ups of pupils, staff, and visitors, together with deliveries, maintenance, refuse removal and other vehicles, would be severe. Vehicle movements would in practice be impossible to regulate, and the Council does not have the resources to monitor and enforce at all relevant times, even if specific conditions were imposed.
3. Access for emergency services would be severely restricted by the resulting congestion.
4. There is no rear access to the site.
5. There is no off-street parking for staff and visitors or school buses, and there are not enough parking spaces even to serve local residents. There is already a school attracting traffic on the corner of Mallord Street and The Vale.
6. There would also be a very substantial flow of pedestrian traffic along Mallord street at the beginning and end of the school day. Teenage schoolchildren are particularly noisy pedestrians, and would be likely to sit on the garden walls of residential properties or stand outside the windows while talking in groups.
7. There is no open space on the ground floor of the building for a playground. A play area on the roof would create a noise nuisance for many residents, especially those directly adjoining the site and for those on the north side of Mallord Street opposite. We all know that the sound of children at play is very intrusive.
8. It is clear from the many objections to this proposal that there is very substantial local opposition to the proposal, together with this present objection by The Chelsea Society.
9. There are Heritage issues which the Committee should consider, and we agree with the report of Mr. Paul Velluet.
10. We agree with the Opinion of Mr. Richard Harwood QC that it is not appropriate to make personal exceptions to normal planning principles for companies, and there is in any event nothing in this case peculiar to this particular applicant to justify any such exception.