Planning & Environment

The Chelsea Society has a long history of involvement with architecture, land use and infrastructural planning locally and plays a key role in the decision making process.

The Constitution of the Society requires it to preserve and improve the amenities of Chelsea by:-

  • stimulating interest in the history, character and traditions of Chelsea;
  • encouraging good architecture, town planning and civic design, the planting and care of trees, and the conservation and proper maintenance of open spaces;
  • seeking the abatement of nuisances;
  • making representations to the proper authorities on these subjects.


The Society was founded in 1927 and seeks to achieve these objects by offering advice to owners and architects and to the Local Planning Authority (the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea), and if necessary by campaigning, with the support of its members who currently number more than a thousand. The Society will where appropriate make written and oral representations at public enquiries and planning appeals, and at consultations by public and private developers.

On 26th January 2015 the Council of the Society established a Planning Committee, and appointed

Michael Stephen as Chairman.

He came to live in Chelsea in 1977. After service in the Army he practised at the Bar in London for many years, and was a Member of Parliament from 1992-97. He was a member of the Environment Select Committee of the House of Commons.

The Chairman of the Committee has appointed Ward Members of the Committee for each of the Chelsea Wards of the Royal Borough, as follows:

Brompton-Hans Ward: Sir Paul Lever KCMG

Sir Paul has had a distinguished career in the public service.  He was HM Ambassador to Germany, Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee; Head of the Defence and Overseas Secretariat in the Cabinet Office; and EU and Economic Director in the Foreign Office.  He has also served as Chairman of the Royal United Services Institute , and as Chairman of the Centre for British Studies, Humboldt University Berlin.   Sir Paul has lived in Chelsea since 1993.

Chelsea Riverside Ward:  Martyn Baker

Martyn has also had a distinguished career in the public service.  He was Director of Economic Development, City of London Corporation 1999-2008; Under-Secretary at the Department of Trade & Industry 1986-99; Assistant Secretary at the Department of Trade & Industry 1982-86; Counsellor, British Embassy in Washington 1978-82, and Principal Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Trade 1977-78.

Royal Hospital Ward: Chris Lenon

formerly an official of the Inland Revenue,  Chris was Chair of  the Tax Committee of the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD Paris; Chair of Business Europe Green Tax Group, Brussels; Member of Business Europe Tax Policy Group, Brussels; and Business leader for OECD business in advising OECD on tax matters. He was Global Head of Tax for  Rio Tinto Plc until 2010 .

Stanley Ward: Currently vacant


The Chelsea Society exists because its members have for nearly 90 years years loved Chelsea for its character, its style, and its charm, and wish to maintain those characteristics for themselves and future generations. We recognise of course that change is inevitable but the Society will seek to influence change so that it does not impact adversely on those characteristics. The Society will therefore encourage the design of new and altered buildings so that their size, proportions, architectural style and setting are compatible with the characteristics of Chelsea.

Where changes of use are proposed, the Society will seek to maintain the balance which has been achieved in Chelsea between residential accommodation for people of all income-groups, shops, offices, restaurants, schools, hospitals, open spaces, and other uses.

The Society values the relationship it has established over many years with the Councillors and Officers of the Royal Borough, and the Committee will seek to maintain and enhance that relationship, and with the Mayor of London. The Committee will nevertheless engage in constructive opposition to the policies and actions of the Borough Council and the Mayor whenever necessary.  The Society is always willing to engage with architects, planning consultants, and their clients, and we find that if engagement takes place at an early stage the result is more likely to be beneficial both for Chelsea and the developer.

The Society is not a Residents’ Association nor a Trade Association but it recognises the valuable contribution made by the many Associations in Chelsea in relation to their immediate locality and their particular interests. The Planning Committee envisages a relationship of mutual support between the Society and the relevant Associations whenever possible.

The Committee will also work with similar societies in Greater London and nationally in appropriate cases.

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