ANNUAL REPORT BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE PLANNING COMMITTEE
For the year 2016-17
The Planning Committee comprises:
MICHAEL STEPHEN (Chairman); SIR PAUL LEVER (Brompton-Hans Ward); CHRIS LENON (Royal Hospital Ward); MARTYN BAKER (Chelsea Riverside Ward); LAURA CARARA-CAGNI (Stanley Ward)
The Society is grateful for the service on the Planning Committee of PAUL AITKENHEAD, the member for Brompton-Hans Ward until his death in May 2017, and PATRICK BATY, the member for Stanley Ward until his retirement from the Committee in July 2017.
The following is a summary of the issues considered by the Committee, of which details can be found on the Society’s website under “Planning & Environment.”
REVIEW OF PLANNING LAW
The Society has submitted evidence to the Royal Town Planning Institute, for the Raynsford Review of Planning Law.
We recognise the general principle that property owners are free to do as they please with their property subject to restrictions in the public interest. However, we think that the balance of planning law is currently too much in favour of the property owner, and does not attach sufficient weight to the interests of local people who are affected by his development.
It is often impossible for local people to live or work in their homes during builders’ working hours for many months or even years, but the owners of the building site are rarely personally affected as they are usually living elsewhere. Earlier this year one of our members died due to the noise, dust, vibrations and intolerable stress caused by a development next door.
Traditionally building owners have not been required to compensate nearby residents for the diminution in their quality of life caused to them for the benefit of the building owner. We do not think that this is fair, and we believe that before the commencement of works the Council should be given a legal charge on the property to secure the payment of compensation to be assessed by a Tribunal if not agreed. The Tribunal would have regard to the length and severity of the diminution, and the conduct of the owner and the builders.
The Council should have power to require owners to give to the Council a legal charge on the property to cover damage to neighbouring property and associated professional fees. It should not be left to neighbouring residents to spend money on solicitors, party-wall surveyors and builders for work that they do not want but have no power to prevent.
Basement development often causes the greatest adverse impacts, and that is why RBKC has restricted the area of the property which can be excavated, but this does not go far enough. We therefore think that areas should be designated as indicated above in which there should be a presumption against any basement development. In places where permission for a basement is given, the Council should have power to limit the depth as well as the extent, because depth is directly related to time, noise, and damage.
In cases where development is permitted, there must be very stringent controls on the noise, dust, obstruction, and traffic congestion involved. We are pleased that RBKC are consulting with the Society and other representatives of local people to find ways in which enforcement can be improved.
There are some streets in Chelsea where several developments are in progress at the same time, and which results in unacceptable diminution in the quality of life for local people. The Council should have power to control the timing of multiple developments to ensure that this does not happen, and to impose time limits and to levy a penalty if work over-runs.
Often we see a series of applications for essentially the same development. Local people and amenity societies like The Chelsea Society have to make an objection every time a new application is made, or it will not be considered. This is an unreasonable burden on people who are not being paid to protect their local environment.
The “residentialisation” of Kensington & Chelsea is a serious issue. Because of the high property values much of the available space is being converted into residences and the local Council has insufficient power to resist. All remaining employment and amenity space should be safeguarded.
THE MAYOR’S CONSULTATION ON TRANSPORT STRATEGY FOR LONDON
The Society has made a detailed submission to the Mayor. We do not agree with him that further population growth is good for London. In our view the transport challenge will be overwhelming if the number of people living in London, working in London, and visiting London, continues to increase as rapidly as in recent years.
MEET THE PLANNERS
On 10th April Mr. Graham Stallwood, Executive Director of Planning and Borough Development of RBKC, and Cllr. Tim Coleridge, Cabinet-member for Planning Policy and Arts, explained the role of the professional planners and the elected Councillors in planning the Chelsea of the future.
On 22nd May Cllr. Warwick Lightfoot, Cabinet-member for Finance and Strategy at RBKC, explained how the Council collects, spends, and invests our money.
THE KING’S ROAD
The Society has published a paper on the Use of the Road, The Appearance and cleanliness of the Road, and Air Pollution on and near the road.
LE COLOMBIER RESTAURANT
The Chelsea Society supported an Article 4 Direction to prevent change of use from restaurant to shop or to premises for financial or professional services.
THE QUEEN’S HEAD PUBLIC HOUSE, TRYON STREET
The Society supported an application to RBKC to designate the pub as an “Asset of Community Value” and it was listed as ACV for 5 years on 10th November 2016. We are concerned that the pub is still closed and are taking this up with the owner.
CINEWORLD CINEMA 279 KINGS ROAD
The Society has supported the redevelopment of this site to provide a new cinema with improved facilities. Work is now in progress.
ROYAL BROMPTON HOSPITAL
The Society has published its position on proposals to redevelop the site, and has supported objections requesting better quality public spaces and commercial activity areas together with a serious replanting scheme to preserve the public amenity of the area. However, the future of the hospital in Chelsea seems now to be in doubt, and the Society’s Planning Committee will consider this again in the New Year.
THAMESBROOK CARE HOME
The Society has supported proposals to redevelop the site to provide luxury retirement homes, but expects RBKC to use the capital receipts to provide retirement homes elsewhere in Chelsea for those who will not be able to afford the new facility.
The Chelsea Society has been granted Rule 6 status in the Appeal against refusal of Planning Permission
The Society’s is generally supportive of proposals by RBKC and Cadogan to improve the street, but does not support the narrowing of the street by widening the pavements.
SOANE STABLE BLOCK
The Society has been consulted by the Royal Hospital on their plans to restore the old stable block designed by Sir John Soane, and is generally supportive.
THE OLD POLICE STATION
The Society has met with the new owners, and has discussed the external appearance of the proposed new building with the architects. The Society is seeking to obtain community benefits by the inclusion on the ground and lower ground floors of facilities for doctors, dentists and other health-care professionals, together with a meeting room, a small post office and a small police-post.
The Society does not wish to see this pier become a floating caravan park, and has opposed an application by the owner for a certificate of lawful development under s. 191 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
1A WALTON STREET
The Society has successfully opposed the construction of a very large basement.
The Society supported the church in their successful application to install solar panels (not visible from ground level) on an inner roof, after the initial application had been refused.
The Society has opposed the construction of a third runway.