Metro Bank – 234 Kings Road

Patrick Baty, the Member of the Society’s Planning Committee for Stanley Ward has objected to this proposed development.  He said:

“As Terence Bendixson had already pointed out, the existing building is a poor piece of design that would not be acceptable to planners today.  When it was built in 1969 no effort was made to fit it into the area immediately around, and that corner has been an eyesore ever since.

Architecturally this is an important section of the Kings Road with a number of listed buildings including Chelsea Old Town Hall, the NatWest Bank at 224-226 Kings Road and the Six Bells Public House very close.  Other notable buildings adjacent or opposite are the old Board of Guardians’ offices at 244-250, the old Post Office at 232 and the Chenil Gallery.  This would be a perfect opportunity to tidy up an ugly corner and to produce a building / façade that would be a credit to its location and to the new occupants.

The currently proposed frontage by Metro Bank is both brash and insensitive in both colour and form and totally unacceptable.

It is appreciated that Metro Bank has its house-style, but there are many examples where it has been more discreet.  The following branches have single storey elevations – Epsom; Ealing; Sutton; Hounslow; Bromley; Kensington; Tottenham Court Road and Holborn.  At St Albans the Bank has tidied up a very poor building and has been far more restrained.

McDonald’s and Tesco have both benefited by listening to constructive criticism from local amenity organisations and have responded positively.  When one considers the former in Bath and the latter in Brockenhurst, Hampshire, for example, it can be seen how a sensitive approach works to everyone’s advantage.

The present proposals are second rate and would cheapen the area. I suggest that the matter is given careful thought before being resubmitted.”

 

The matter has in fact been given careful thought, and on 13th November 2015 the Bank’s Head of Property wrote to Patrick Baty:

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In general terms the changes we have made are as follows:

i. On the advice of the local architects and heritage consultants we have offered to introduce a brick finish to the upper parts of the building. As we are investing over £5M in this building and have taken a 25 year lease it is very important to us that it looks the best it can. We are not fixed on the pattern, layout or design of the brick and surround stonework, but will bring samples of these materials with us to each meeting prior to submission to get views on this proposal;

ii. We have reduced the height of the framing of the shop front in keeping with other similar shop fronts on Kings Road;

iii. We will bring along a variety of materials to the meeting, as we are flexible as to the type of material we have used – as you may see from our other stores that we have open;

iv. The glazing is the same broad design as Heals had, but you will note the location of the ATMs, which remain away from the residential entrance into Daska House;

v. We would like to carry on the works to the exterior of the property surrounding both the residential entrance and refurbish the entrance to the loading bay and the basement car park, but this will be subject to agreement with the freeholder and long leaseholders in the upper parts of the building;

vi. We have the same number of signs as Heals had on the building albeit that the text is smaller. Again, we will bring along the proposed materials to the meeting.

vii. We are waiting for the final signage and shop front proposals from both our subtenants, and this will be brought along to the meeting. It goes without saying that we have looked around Kings Road and other similar locations where listed buildings are opposite and in the proximity of retail premises similar to 234 Kings Road. However, importantly, this is not a finished product, but a work in progress. We now wish to complete a round of pre-application meetings and consultation with local interested parties to get a wide range of views. We will then make any further amendments to this prior to submitting what we then would expect would be a design that complies with council planning policy and will receive support from both planning officers and members.

The meetings we are seeking to arrange are as follows:  RBKC Planning Department;  Stanley Ward Councillors;  Residents of Daska House, who live above the property;  The freeholder and the long leaseholder of Daska House;  The Chelsea Society;  Kings Road Association of Chelsea Residents; and  Sydney Street & District Residents Association.

Once we complete these meetings we are aiming to submit a planning application by the end of November [2015]and would expect that by February 2016 we will have a conclusion. Assuming this is an approval we would then be able to open the store in late spring or early summer by which time all three occupiers (as noted above) will all be in and trading.

1. We have completed the strip out of the property. This has taken a lot longer than envisaged as we have found substantial amounts of notifiable asbestos (both inside and outside our demise) that we have had to remove following the proper procedures. Due to the age of the building this was always going to be a challenge, but it has been a lot more work than we first thought.

2. We have now completed the subdivision of the property. We have part of the ground and first floor under offer to Tiger who intend to commence fitting out their store in the new year and opening in spring 2016.

3. We have also agreed terms, and are about to complete a letting, to an occupier on the 2nd floor which will offer a private care facility for people suffering from forms of dementia. We recently received planning consent for this (PP/15/05361), details of which can be found on the planning section of the council’s website.

4. Since our planning refusal, we have been working with both our main architect, but also a local renowned architect and a leading heritage advisor. As the reason for refusal given at committee was the proximity of listed buildings and buildings of merit (such as the Old Town Hall) we have focused primarily on the impact any further alterations or signage would have on the immediate area.

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