On 27th September 2018 the Planning Applications Committee of RBKC refused this application to build massive tower-blocks on the site of the existing Holiday Inn on the Cromwell Road. The Chelsea Society had supported the Kensington Society in objecting to this application as follows:
Mr. Graham Stallwood,
Executive Director of Planning and Borough Development,
Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea,
24th August 2018
Dear Mr. Stallwood,
Kensington Forum Hotel, 97-109 Cromwell Road, London SW7 PP/18/03461
The Chelsea Society objects to this planning application for the following reasons, and wishes its name to be made public as an objector:
Chelsea and South Kensington have always been areas of low to medium height buildings, and derive their character and charm from this. The existing 29-storey building at 92m/302 feet tall has been an intrusion on our skyline since 1973. Planning permission should not have been granted at the time and it should not be used as a precedent to justify a much bigger scheme which would further blight both our communities and our skyline and streetscape. The existing building is a “material consideration” but not a precedent, and cannot in any event justify granting permission for an even taller building.
The first application, for a 30-storey hotel at 102m/335 feet tall, would make it the tallest building in RBKC – 5 times the average height of surrounding buildings;
The second, a 22-storey serviced apartments building, would be 77m/253 feet, the 4th tallest (10m/33 feet taller than Grenfell Tower); and
The third an 8-storey/35m/115 foot housing block containing 46 flats (26 for the open market; 20 for social/affordable housing).
The two tall buildings would be taller than Newcombe House in Notting Hill Gate – tallest would be 30m/98 feet taller and the second 5m/16.5 feet taller – which has been repeatedly refused by the planning committee. The same reasons for refusing Newcombe House should be applied in this case.
Following the grant of permission for the existing building, the Council of RBKC strengthened its planning policies against tall buildings with the result that the Council has not permitted a single tall building in the borough in the last 45 years. We want this to continue.
The relevant policies, as consolidated in the July 2015 RBKC Local Plan are:
- to respect the existing context, character and appearance (Policy CL1). This does not mean the character and appearance of the existing building, but of the area as a whole
- to preserve and take opportunities to enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area (Policy CL3). The demolition of the existing building would present such an opportunity
- to ensure good living conditions for local people, especially daylight and sunlight, sense of enclosure and avoid increases in traffic, parking, noise, vibration and local microclimatic effects (Policy CL5)
- to protect and enhance views, vistas and the skyline that contribute to the character and quality of the area (Policy CL11)
- to respect the setting of the borough’s valued townscapes and landscapes, through appropriate building heights (Policy CL12)
The proposal is also contrary to the London Plan, in particular, policies 7.4, 7.6 and 7.7.
The proposed buildings would have a significantly harmful impact on the adjoining conservation areas, further dominating and overwhelming the immediate locality on both sides of Cromwell Road.
The development would be 50% larger/denser than the present building, with densities only found in places like the City of London and Vauxhall, and at least 4 times that of the surrounding area.
The buildings would have a significant impact on living conditions in the immediate area.
The buildings would increase the adverse impact on the long views – taller, wider, bulkier profile – and will further intrude on the skyline as seen from Kensington Gardens and Battersea Bridge, as well as from Cromwell Road.
The proposed buildings would include a conference facility for 1,500 people at one time, which could result in that number of people entering/exiting in a short space of time. The nearby Underground station is already congested at busy times.
The garden would be re-established, but this is required to be retained by law. It is not a gift, but a fundamental planning requirement.
The public benefits would be insufficient to outweigh those harmful effects.
We understand that the developer is using the profitability of the existing hotel as the baseline for its value to justify a large increase in density. We disagree. An outdated building which cannot be brought up to modern standards should have less value and should not be used as a viability reason to allow such an enormous increase in the size of the development.
Chairman of the Planning Committee
The Chelsea Society