Thamesbrook closed more than 4 years ago and the site has been sold for redevelopment which is now in progress. We are however concerned that no progress has been made by RBKC toward providing replacement accommodation in Chelsea for those who cannot afford private residential care in their later years. Councillors at the time of the closure assured The Chelsea Society that the money raised on sale of the land and buildings would be used to provide alternative care in Chelsea for the elderly.
The Chelsea Society has always wanted to see a replacement in Chelsea for the Thamesbrook Home, and would be content to see the proceeds of the sale devoted to providing a replacement on the Car Pound Site in Riverside Ward.
However, The Chelsea Society would be strongly opposed to the conversion of the present light industrial sites adjacent to the Car Pound Site in Lots Road to private housing. (The Council spent at least £20 million purchasing these units which include the Lots Road Antique Showrooms). The Lots Road Employment Zone is invaluable, as the only such Zone in Chelsea, and is Safeguarded Employment Space.
The recently agreed Partial Review of the Local Plan now says in Chapter 31: Fostering Vitality (para.31.3.53) that : ”The Council does, however, recognise that the introduction of some residential floorspace within an Employment Zone can bring forward new business development and deliver housing supply. In order to ensure that business uses are maximised, residential uses will only be permitted when they can be shown to be necessary to enable a significant uplift in business floorspace. As well as being a significant uplift, this floorspace must be of at least equal quality to that being re-provided, with no more residential floorspace being provided than that necessary to enable the uplift.”
As the extra-care housing on the Pound Site adjacent to 65-69 and 71-73 Lots Road would provide 55 residential units no case exists for any private housing being added to this development site.
The Local Plan continues “It is also essential that the commercial character of an Employment Zone is not jeopardised by the introduction/expansion of residential uses. This will normally be ensured through appropriate design, through the retention of the business function of ground floor frontages and through ensuring that any mixed-use development within an Employment Zone is business-led. If the Council is not satisfied that the business function can be retained, the introduction of residential floorspace will be resisted.”
This is where the proceeds from the sale of Thamesbrook are important. If these proceeds are not taken into account the developers chosen by the Council will probably say that the redevelopment will not be financially viable without a significant amount of private housing on top of the extra care units.
As this redevelopment would be immediately opposite the low-rise buildings of the Lots Village conservation area we would resist the maximising of residential floorspace on top of a significant uplift in business floorspace, leading to excessive overbuilding.