Dear Mr Wentworth,
Subject: Planning Application PP/20/03216 and LB/20/03217 South Kensington Station
I am writing on behalf of the Chelsea Society to register our objection to the planning application submitted by Native Land and Transport for London for the re-development of South Kensington Station.
The Chelsea Society, founded in 1927, exists to protect the interests of all those who live and work in Chelsea and to preserve and enhance the unique character of this part of London. We have around a thousand members. Although South Kensington Station is just outside our geographical area, it is used by many of our members and is a site of such importance that its future will affect the conservation area of which Chelsea is a part.
Our views on the re-development of the station are set out in detail on the society’s website. In sum:
-South Kensington is one of London’s most iconic underground stations. Its restoration and improvement should be conservation-led and should reflect the station’s original heritage and style.
-The priority should be to re-furbish the station itself so as to increase its capacity and to provide step-free access to the platforms.
-Any further development should be along the lines of the Planning Brief written in 2015 by Deloitte Real Estate for Transport for London and reviewed by RBKC planning officers. TfL originally undertook to work with local amenity groups to develop proposals for the site on the basis of this brief. It is regrettable that TfL has reneged on this commitment.
We object to the current application on the grounds that it fails to meet the objectives of the Local Plan, the London Plan and the National Planning Policy Framework. It would inflict significant harm on the listed buildings which surround the station and on the Conservation Area within which it is located. It would involve the unnecessary destruction of heritage assets. It would impose buildings of unacceptable bulk and height. It would add an unnecessary volume of retail and office space, when the priority of a public body like TfL should be affordable housing. And it would cause acute levels of traffic congestion.
The exact details of the incompatibility of the application with the three Plans are set out in the submission from the local MP, the local GLA member and the Ward Councillors for the Courtfield and Brompton/Hans Town wards and we do not therefore repeat them here. We support the points made by those elected members and we urge the Planning Committee to give them due weight.
The areas of concern to which we draw particular attention are the following.
Relationship with the enhancement of the station
The application is predicated on the implementation of plans for improvements to the capacity of the station for which planning permission already exists and which would include the provision of lifts for step free access. But TfL have recently announced that these plans will not go ahead. The Council should insist that before any consideration can be given to the Around Station Development there must be a clear commitment, with a timescale, by TfL to undertake this work.
We would prefer this building to be re-furbished rather than demolished. But it is important that the shop fronts are carefully preserved and retained as small units.
The Bullnose does indeed need to be demolished, but the proposal to replace it is incongruous in style and volume. It should be no higher than a ground and two upper stories in order to preserve the open aspect of the area in front of the station and to preserve views of the Natural History museum.
A low scale terrace in Pelham Street has the potential to enhance the street scene. But what is proposed is too bulky and too dominant. It would have the effect of “canyonising” the street. If flats are to be built here, they should be no more than a ground and two upper stories above street level.There should be no retail or restaurant use except in Pelham Street’s westernmost 50 yards. But provision could be made for community facilities (doctors, dentists etc).
The proposed building on Thurlow Square is also inappopriate in terms of its mass and height. It would overshadow the Grade 2* listed buildings on Pelham Place opposite and would cause severe harm to the appearance of a conservation area.
We therefore urge the Council to reject this application and to to encourage Native Land/TfL to submit an alternative plan which is more respectful of the heritage of the area and of the station itself.
Would you be kind enough to acknowledge receipt of this objection and to ensure that the Chelsea Society is identified as the author of it when it is published on your website.
Chairman of the Planning Committee
The Chelsea Society