Registered charity 276264

S. Ken Station – Application Rejected!

 PLANNING APPLICATION PP/20/03216

The Chelsea Society is pleased that the Planning Committee of RBKC has on 18.11.21 rejected by 5 votes to nil the application for the “around-station-development” against which we, and others, had campaigned.  TfL should now get on with providing much-needed step-free access to the concourse, and we call upon our GLA Councillor, Tony Devenish, to press them to do this.

In addition to the submissions already made, the Chairman of the Planning Committee of The Chelsea Society, Sir Paul Lever, said ” The applicants have in the meantime made some minor alterations to the proposed design, but our objections to it remain unchanged. They relate to the design, character and size of the proposed building and its incompatibility with the surrounding Conservation Area. It is modern, unsympathetic, overly dominant and destructive of important vistas and views. To approve its construction would be in breach of the Council’s Statutory duty of Care to preserve and enhance Conservation Areas under the terms of the Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas Act 1990.

It would also be incompatible with the following Council policies

CL.1 Context and Character

CL3 and CL$ Heritage Assets

CL8 and CL8 Existing Buildings

Detailed analyses of the application’s deficiencies are set out in the many submissions from associations and individuals which the Council has received.

The application has received an unprecedented number of objections, including from all the local amenity and residents organisations, from all the ward Councillors of the Brompton and Hans Town ward, the local MP and the local member of the Greater London Assembly. This is a formidable expression of public opinion which deserves to be respected.

In the report which they have submitted to your Council officers acknowledge the application’s deficiencies and their report is replete with negative assessments of the building’s suitability. My email of 30 May lists some of these.  Their justification of their recommendation of acceptance is that the various harms done to the building will be less than substantial and will be compensated by the provision of 17 units of affordable housing. But whatever judgement is made about individual deficiencies in the design, the cumulative effect of them amounts to a scale of harm which would surely be substantial; and the claimed compensating benefit of affordable housing is vitiated by fact that it will be on the basis of the Discount London Living Rent and thus not really affordable at all.

It will be possible to devise another plan for the refurbishment of South Kensington station which delivers an adequate element of affordable housing. But damage to the borough’s heritage, once incurred, is impossible to reverse. The Chelsea Society hopes therefore that you will exercise your political responsibilities, listen to the voices of your electors and their representatives and reject this application.

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Earlier, we had said:

The Chelsea Society was founded in 1927 to protect the interests of those who live and work in Chelsea and to preserve the character of this unique part of London. We have around 1,000 members.

We urge the Council of RBKC to reject this revised planning application. The changes it offers do not mitigate the severe defects in the one originally submitted. There are some minor, cosmetic improvements to both the Thurloe Street building and the Bullnose, but the fundamental issues of mass, height and poor design remain unaddressed. What is proposed is a bulky, dominant, modern group of buildings which are incongruent with both the context and the heritage of the surrounding area and would be destructive of many iconic views. Pelham Street would be canyonised and the proposed loading bay would have a negative effect on the public realm.

We have seen the objections raised by all the elected representatives of the area (local Councillors, GLA representative and MP) and support all the points which they have made. We also note that in their report on the earlier iteration of the scheme Council officers did not deny that it would be inconsistent with several Council policies. It is unacceptable that these concerns should be set aside simply because the scheme would provide a certain number of units of affordable housing: there are other schemes which could achieve the same, or a better, outcome.

We are also disappointed by the disingenuousness and duplicity which the applicants appear to have shown in the presentation of their revised proposals. The objection from the elected representatives notes that the applicants have falsely claimed to have consulted local Councillors; have paid agents to solicit support for their scheme by accosting travellers with a misleading presentation; have misrepresented the views of local residents; have offered false information in some of their presentations; have not provided proper illustrations of how their proposals would actually look; and, in relation to 20-34 Thurloe Street, have failed to show that their proposals satisfy the Council’s recent Greening Supplementary Planning Document.

In sum, we continue to believe that the harm to the conservation area and to the setting of neighbouring listed buildings would be substantial; and that the benefits of the scheme, namely just 29 additional dwellings, do not outweigh the harm which it would cause.

Sir Paul Lever KCMG,

Chairman of the Planning Committee

The Chelsea Society

23rd September 2020

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