REPORT OF THE PLANNING COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN
for the year 2018
During the year the Society’s Planning Committee comprised:
Michael Stephen (Chairman)
Sir Paul Lever KCMG (Brompton Hans Ward)
Martyn Baker (Chelsea Riverside Ward)
Chris Lenon (Royal Hospital Ward) – until December
Laura Carrara-Cagni (Stanley Ward) – until October
News on planning issues is published regularly on the Society’s website at www.chelseasociety.org.uk
THE WILLIAM SUTTON ESTATE – Planning Appeal dismissed.
The owners of the estate applied for planning permission for redevelopment, which was refused by RBKC. The owners appealed, and the appeal was heard by a government-appointed Inspector at a Public Enquiry in Kensington Town Hall from 9th – 18th May 2018.
The Chelsea Society was represented at the Appeal by Michael Stephen, Chairman of the Planning Committee and James Thompson, Chairman of the Society. The Society’s Closing Submission to the Inspector on 18th May 2018 is on the Society’s website.
The Society said at the appeal “It would be unrealistic for the Minister to ignore the revised scheme, which would provide more social housing than the original scheme, but if he takes it into account he must be satisfied that local people have had a proper opportunity to consider it. If he is not so satisfied this could mean a new application, which would be very costly and would lead to more years of uncertainty for the residents. We would prefer to see the money spent on providing better housing for the residents than on professional fees.
He was not so satisfied and dismissed the appeal on 18th December 2018. The owners could challenge the decision on a point of law in the High Court, they could submit a new planning application to RBKC, or they could abandon their plans. They cannot be compelled to refurbish the existing buildings, though they may decide to do so. As we said at the Inquiry “It is quite clear that the current situation on the estate is not satisfactory for anyone, and improvement is urgently necessary.” We also said “although the owners may have the legal right to let flats on the estate at open market rents, this would be contrary to the purposes for which William Sutton gave the land.”
PERMITTED DEVELOPMENT RIGHTS
PD rights can have undesirable consequences for attractive street settings in our Conservation Areas. For example, with the exception of listed buildings, you can without planning permission remove an attractive (even original or historic) window facing the street and replace it with a new ugly window provided only that the new window is made of similar materials – there is no requirement for similar style or design.
We believe that RBKC should issue an Article 4 Direction to remove such PD rights in all our Conservation Areas, making such developments subject to planning permission and enabling the Council to refuse applications which fail “to preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the Conservation Area.” We wrote to RBKC accordingly and have met with them to discuss this.
EMPTY FLATS AND HOUSES
RBKC Deputy Leader Cllr. Kim Taylor Smith, wrote to the Government about getting the Borough’s 621 empty flats and houses into use. He wants powers to enable the Council to take over empty properties, pay rent to the owners, and let the homes to Council tenants.
However, this is a very controversial measure and is an ongoing issue. It has been carefully considered by the Society’s Planning Committee, and Members of the Society were encouraged to send their views to the Chairman of the Planning Committee
GOVERNANCE OF RBKC
For the Society’s views on the governance of the Council see https://chelseasociety.org.uk/governance-of-rbkc/ and for the Society’s views on changes needed to planning law see https://chelseasociety.org.uk/planning-law-review/
LONDON BUS SERVICES
Transport for London have consulted on their proposed changes to bus routes, and The Society responded as follows:
“Most of the members of The Chelsea Society use the buses, and we are concerned mainly with the section of the Consultation headed “King’s Road, Piccadilly, Shaftesbury Avenue.” Many of our members are obliged to use buses because there is no step-free access down to the trains at Sloane Square or South Kensington stations. TfL should make it a priority to provide step-free access at these stations before they reduce any bus services.
Our two biggest concerns are Route 11 and 19, which would no longer serve Chelsea.
Details of our submission are on the Society’s website.
THE OLD POLICE STATION, LUCAN PLACE
We met with the developers and discussed the use of the 2,000 sq ft on the ground floor and another 2,000 sq ft on the basement floor which they offered to make available for community use. Details are on the Society’s website.
Their planning Application PP/18/03491 has been refused, but if the Council do not change their position, this building is likely to remain derelict for some considerable time, with no community use at all.
TOWER BLOCKS ON THE CROMWELL ROAD
The Chelsea Society supported the Kensington Society in objecting to an application to build massive tower-blocks on the site of the existing Holiday Inn on the Cromwell Road, and it was refused on 27th September 2018. Details are on The Chelsea Society’s website.
PLANNING APPLICATIONS – OBJECTORS
The Society was concerned that when implementing the recent change in data-protection law, RBKC were making it difficult for the names of individual objectors to appear on the published record. The Society made representation and the matter has now been resolved
NOISE FROM MOTORCYCLES (AND SOME CARS)
One in five Europeans is regularly exposed to noise levels that could “significantly” damage their health, the World Health Organization says, and it updated guidelines on those levels in Europe on 9th October 2018.
Motorcyclists have of course as much right as anyone else to use the roads, but the noise made by many of their machines is excessive, and constitutes a real and persistent nuisance to people living nearby or using the streets. This is becoming worse as the roads become more congested and more and more people are using motorcycles to get through the traffic. The vehicle need not be travelling at excessive speed to cause a noise nuisance, and fierce acceleration in low gear is the main problem.
Motorcycles are small vehicles with small engines, and yet they make so much more noise than much larger and more powerful vehicles – and some of the smallest emit the worst noise. The reason for this is that their silencers are completely inadequate, even when properly maintained. The same applies to certain types of car – in particular Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, and Porsche.
The Society considers that our MP, our GLA Member and the Borough Council should propose to the Government that they amend the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1078/1986 to require that motorcycles and cars be equipped with silencers which are much more effective, even if this reduces speed and/or acceleration.
It would appear from the noise we have to endure every day that even the existing law is not being complied with, and the police should pay more attention to this problem.
THE KING’S ROAD
King’s Road is one of the most congested and worst polluted streets in London. At times there is complete gridlock, particularly in the section between Sloane Square and Sydney Street. A principal cause of the congestion is the large number of vans and lorries which use King’s Road and which, in many cases, stop there to deliver goods. The road is narrow. A single parked lorry can cause problems for buses (there are five bus routes along King’s Road). When two vehicles are parked opposite each other there is chaos.
The Society has made proposals to RBKC to alleviate these problems, and we are in dialogue with the Highways Dept. For details see website.