MEETING WITH RESIDENTS’ ASSOCIATIONS
On 25th September 2017 the Society held its annual meeting with the Residents’ Associations of Chelsea. This was a very well attended meeting, with roughly 100 residents present. We had invited the two new Deputy Leaders of RBKC to explain their responsibilities and answer questions.
Cllr. Kim Taylor-Smith – Deputy Leader with responsibility for Grenfell Response and Housing spoke first. He began with an apology on behalf of the Council about their response to the Grenfell Tower fire. He recognised the need for RBKC to rebuild trust, and to bring about a cultural change in its procedures and management. The papers already published by Barry Quick outlined the steps to be taken. On the rehousing of Grenfell residents, the priority Category A were those who lived in the tower, and the Council is providing 200 homes. These tenants are traumatised and bereaved. Normally Council tenants are offered one choice of housing, but in this instance they have been granted multiple choices. 200 offers have been made, 52 have been accepted, but only 11 have signed so far.
There is an intention to buy a total of 300 homes. Category B comprises 900 persons who lived near the tower. 177 are in hotels, and do not want to go home at the moment, with the burnt-out tower visible next to their homes. Category C include all those living on Lancaster West Estate. Apart from all this, there are the 8000 people still on the waiting list, who want to live in RBKC.
The Tenant Management Organisation structure is to be reviewed, but because of the contracts already in place with suppliers this is unlikely to change abruptly, and anyway there are differing views on how best to manage these properties. Direct Council management make not always be the best option.
Cllr. Will Pascall – Deputy Leader with responsibility for all other Borough services spoke next. He explained the need to ensure that normal services continued to function. He outlined cultural changes in approaches to planning and other matters.
For example, in the case of the CLEUD application to use Cadogan Pier for residential boat use, he said that he had asked the Planning Department to brief resident’s representatives about legal aspects of the application. He also announced, as a consequence of that meeting, that he would be asking the Council to take the opinion of a QC on the legal position, so as to ensure it was as strong as possible. The Chelsea Society had submitted a reasoned objection to this application, and it is on the Society’s website at https://chelseasociety.org.uk/cadogan-pier/
Cllr. Pascall also announced that there were to be two trial areas for extra enforcement of planning conditions.
Questions from the floor:
Crossrail2: What progress? Cllr. Taylor-Smith said he had not heard anything. Gillespie Robertson (Dovehouse St RA) asked for the Council to withdraw their support. Cllr. Pascall said the Council will review their position. The Society’s position is at https://chelseasociety.org.uk/crossrail-2/
Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) There were a number of complaints about the TMO – tenants wanted the housing brought back into in-house management. KTS said he was working with TMO and was trying to get control over it. Tenants wanted to be consulted about any proposed change
Enforcement and payments by developers : Westminster require payments by developers to pay for monitoring compliance on development projects such as basements
Thamesbrook: had the sales proceeds actually been received, and when would the replacement facility be available. Cllr. Taylor-Smith was not sure the sum had been received, and because of the new demands on the budget after Grenfell Tower provisions, could not confirm a date for the new facility, though he reiterated that the Council intended to build it.
King’s Road: Chris Lenon (Member of the Society’s Planning Committee for Royal Hospital Ward) said that the Society would be undertaking a study of the King’s Road, including air quality, traffic the proliferation of adverts – the new bus shelters seemed to have lost the bus information screens. The Society has published a paper on the King’s Road see https://chelseasociety.org.uk/5639-2/ and will be responding to the Mayor’s Transport Strategy consultation.
Chelsea Riverside and Cadogan Pier developments. Col. David Waddell (Cheyne Walk Trust) spoke on this issue. The owner of Cadogan Pier was trying to remove leisure craft and replace them with multi-storey houseboats without planning consent. Chelsea Reach Boat-owners Association had taken legal advice.
Air pollution. Traffic management plans and basements. Chris Lennon spoke on this issue. The Society has made a submission to the Mayor on Air Pollution – see https://chelseasociety.org.uk/air-pollution/
Affordable Housing: Sir Paul Lever (Member of the Society’s Planning Committee for Brompton Hans Ward) was concerned that affordable housing was not being provided on-site, nor on nearby sites, but that the Council was taking cash-in-lieu, but the money does not seem to being spent and indeed some was being spent on maintaining existing stock rather than providing additional units of affordable housing. Cllr Taylor-Smith agreed that there had been a policy of not putting it on-site, but in future this would be required on-site. The Society’s position on the Sutton Estate is at https://chelseasociety.org.uk/affinity-sutton-estate/
Improving pedestrian conditions: Chris Lenon suggested that rather than focus on removal of bollards, the focus should be on providing pedestrian crossing facilities for crossing the Chelsea Embankment at both Albert Bridge and Battersea Bridge junctions and at the King’s Road/Beaufort Street junction. There was also a need to make the Earl’s Court One-Way System south of the King’s Road two way. Terence Bendixson (member of the Council of the Society) said TfL supports better conditions for pedestrians.
Amalia Cebreiro (member of the Council of the Society) spoke about the outstanding problems with redevelopment of Riley’s Pub in the King’s Road and undertook to provide more particulars to the Deputy Leader, Cllr. Pascall.
In the absence of any clarity in what the two Deputy Leaders had just said about when the much needed affordable extra care units would be provided in Lots Road, Martyn Baker (Member of the Society’s Planning Committee for Chelsea Riverside Ward) referred to the fact that the then Leader had publicly promised at least two years ago that such housing would be built on the Pound site because such an opportunity would be created following the closure and sale of the valuable Thamesbrook site. He then explained that consultations with the local community had been promised well over a year ago about specific plans for building the units on the open/accessible Pound site but no such consultation has taken place because the Council has purchased two adjacent commercial properties, including the auction house, and has in mind to pursue a much larger redevelopment project which would very much delay the creation of the affordable units and involve extensive up-market housing, even though the area is part of Lots Road Employment Zone and so protected employment land.
He suggested that with 420 apartments already due to be built on the Power Station site in Lots Road it was surely right to give priority now to providing the urgently needed extra care units on the Pound site while generating much needed additional jobs for the younger generation in the rest of the Employment Zone.