Author Archives: Henry Peterson

Change of use from commercial to residential – the latest position in Kensington and Chelsea

Since 2013, Kensington and Chelsea Council has used a Borough-wide Article 4 Direction in order to disapply the national Permitted Development right allowing change of use of buildings and floorspace from office to residential. These ‘Directions’ are usually applied to named streets in a Conservation Area to remove Permitted Development right to e.g. install front rooflights or vary roofscapes and frontages.

The Council obtained agreement from Government on the Borough-wide application of this Direction, by arguing that the differential between office and residential values is so great in this part of London that the loss of office space would have a substantial and damaging impact on the local economy.

An extension of time for this ‘Borough-wide exemption’ from national PD rights was accepted by the then Ministry for Housing and Local Government in 2019.

In July 2021 the Council introduced a further ‘non-immediate’ Direction with similar aims. This was due to be confirmed this summer, and applied to proposed change for use from the new E1 use class to residential. The E1 class includes most commercial uses (shops, businesses, warehouses, restaurants, cafes) as well as ‘offices’.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Government has been keen to make the planning system more flexible in terms of change of use. Future demand for conventional office space in London seems likely to fall as ‘hybrid’ working becomes the norm for many businesses and organisations. Traditional department stores are having to think about alternative uses for their floorspace.

In February, the Minister of State for Housing Stuart Andrew wrote to six inner London Boroughs along with Kensington and Chelsea, asking them to revisit their proposals for Article 4 Directions. His letter said that these councils have failed to take a sufficiently targeted approach to their assessment of the impacts of the permitted development right in each location.

His letter continues ‘Additional evidence is requested to demonstrate that you have considered the applicalion of Article 4 Direction to indlvldual streets or smaller areas wilhin the Central Activities Zone, and taking consideration of the safeguards that apply to the new commercaal to residential permitted development right to ensure that the Article 4 Direcilon is proposed only where it would have wholly unacceplable adverse impacts and applles to the smallest geographic area possible.

Where you :a re also proposing an Artide A Direction an areas oucside of lhe Central Activities Zone. the same policy applies and therefore you are also requested lo provide additionaI evidence for each of these areas lo demonstrate why lhe application of Article 4 Directions are necessary or cannot be reduced to apply to a smaIler geographic area’.

So the Council is having to come up with a revised set of smaller areas, and better evidenced justification for the use of an Article 4 Direction.

The StQW Neighbourhood Forum has consistently opposed restrictive policies on use of buildings and floorspace in Latimer Road. Many of the office buildings have remained under-occupied with some vacant floorspace since the days when we were preparing the neighbourhood plan back in 2014/5. At the examination of the Draft plan in 2015, the independent examiner accepted our evidence for more ‘mixed use’ in the street. This introduced a new policy allowing for housing use at Units 1-14 provided the existing employment floorpspace is retained.

We also asked the Council in 2017 and again in 2021 to leave out Latimer Road from the area to be covered by an Article 4 Direction.

We have made the same request again, now that the Council is redrawing its map of areas to be covered by a Direction. It is not yet clear whether a revised Direction will apply only to the main business areas and ‘town centres’ (e.g. Kensington High Street, Notting Hill Gate, Sloane Street) or whether the Government will accept wider areas. It is clear that a ‘Borough-wide’ Direction is not acceptable to Government.

We are hoping that this time round the Council will accept that the best future for Latimer Road lies in mixed use, combining housing alongside a range of employment activity and ensuring that buildings remain in use rather than lying part empty.

A copy of our letter to the Council is below:

The new Local Plan for Kensington and Chelsea

The Council has been consulting on the ‘Regulation 18’ of a new Local Plan for the Borough. This will replace the version adopted in 2019.

This consultation draft is not a finalised set of proposals. The current consultation ends on March 23rd 2022. The Council will then consider all responses and publish a revised Regulation 19 version of the Draft Local Plan in late 2022. Independent examaination of the Draft Plan by a Planning Inspector will follow. Adoption of the final new Local Plan is expected in the second half of 2023.

The joint management committee of the StQW Neighbourhood Forum and the St Helens Residents Association has drawn up a response to the consultation.

This response document can be downloaded by clicking on the green link below. The text is too small to read onscreen. (A warning that this is a 40 page document that covers all of the questions asked by the Council on the whole of their Draft Local Plan).

This reponse will be submitted to RBKC on March 23rd, to meet the Council’s deadline. If you have an comments or concerns about what we are saying in this response,, please email by March 22nd so that there is time to liaise on any amendments.

Anyone can of course send in to the Council their own views responding to any part of this consultation exercise.

Latimer Road – consultation on speed humps

RBKC Highways Department are consulting on plans to install speed bumps in Latimer Road W10. This is in response to a funding bid made by the Latimer Road Residents Association, from the Council’s Neighbourbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy budget (NCIL).

The costs involved are £7,000 and the installation will be for speed humps with a relatively low profile similar to those in place in Oxford Gardens. More details below.

The consultation will be open until Sunday 12th December 2021 and any comments can to be sent to, referencing NCIL/2021/SH1.

Kensal Canalside development proposals

Developers Sainsbury’s/Ballymore and Berkeley Homes/St William have been working up planning proposals since 2019 for major developments on the former gas works site to the west of Ladbroke Grove. This landlocked railway land is a Mayoral Opportunity Area and is one of two remaining regeneration areas in Kensington and Chelsea (the other being Earls Court).

The 2016 and 2021 London Plans have allocated Kensal Canalside for mixed use, with an ‘indicative’ housing target of 3,500 new homes. This figure is included as a ‘minimum’ in the site allocation policy in the RBKC 2019 Local Plan.

A Supplementary Planning Document was adopted by RBKC in July 2021. This has suggested potential ‘development capacities’ of up to 5,000 new homes. As yet there is little evidence of these figures having been ‘tested’ via masterplanning, in the way that the London Plan expects the Boroughs to undertake for ‘indicative’ targets.

In October and November 2021, both sets of developers invited the Kensington Society planning committee (which includes the Chair of the StQW Neighbourhood Forum) to presentations and discussions on their proposals. These developers are currently assuming an overall housing delivery figure of around 4,000 new homes across the Opportunity Area.

Notes of these presentation sessions can be downloaded below. These include a commentary by the Kensington Society and provide useful background for a first ever ‘Development Forum’ which RBKC has convened. This will take place at Barlby Primary School on 24th November 2021 from 6pm to 8pm. This session will be open to all, with no need to register.

StQW reponse to RBKC on a ‘Borough-wide exemption’ on Permitte Development Rights

Kensington and Chelsea Council has introduced an Article 4 Direction which removes national permitted development rights on change of use from commercial to residential use. This will take effect in 2022, if accepted by the Secretary of State.

The Council previously introduced a borough-wide Article 4 Direction removing PD rights on office-to-residential change of use. This further Direction applies to all E class commercial uses and is also proposed to cover the entire Borough.

The Forum argued back in 2017 that a complete ‘borough-wide’ approach is a blunt instrument and that there are some parts of the Borough which need these national planning flexibilities. Latimer Road is one of these areas, as a street where we feel that much needed new housing should be provided.

We take the same position on this latest proposal by the Council and have submitted a response to its recent consultation on this issue – as below.

We also think that the Council is ignoring national policy guidance that Article 4 Directions of this kind, if used, should be applied to the ‘smallest area possible’. We think that RBKC’s approach should have been more selective geographically, and that a ‘borough-wide’ direction will have increased the likelihood of intervention by the Secretary of State. It may be several months before we know whether the Council’s proposal will be allowed to stand.

StQW Forum’s response to RBKC consultation on Issues and Options for the next Local Plan for the Borough

The Council is revising its 2019 Local Plan and carrying out a series of consultations on its content. A final version is expected to be adopted in 2023.

The second stage of consultation has been on an issues and options paper called the New Local Plan Review (NLPR). The RBKC consultation website is at The deadline for responses is midnight on October 4th.

The management committee of the StQW Forum/St Helens Residents Association has drawn up a response which you can read below or download as a draft. If you have any comments or suggestions to make, please email by lunchtime on Monday 4th October.

Risk of flash flooding in our neighbourhood

The heavy downpour on July 12th 2021 caused flash flooding in several parts of North Kensington. While the StQW neighbourhood was largely spared, there was some flooding of ground floors at the southern end of Latimer Road.

Subsequently Felicity Buchan MP arranged an online session for residents to question Thames Water on why the street drainage/sewerage system was overwhelmed by surface water run-off. The basic response from Thames Water was that their systems performed ‘as designed’. This is hardly encouraging for those in the Borough who suffered serious flooding of their basements.

Was this a one in 10, 20 or 50 year rainfall event? The storm did not feel that unusual given the way that UK weather has performed this summer.

A further set of written responses from Thames Water can read or downloaded below.

The extent of the North Kensington Critical Drainage Area is shown on a map which can be downloaded from the link below. There is much useful information on flood risk on the RBKC website at this link

The risk of surface water flooding in some of the streets in our neighbourhood is very real. The Counters Creek main sewer, which takes surface water from a wide catchment areas, has been overloaded for years. A major replacement project was abandoned by Thames Water in 2017.

Every year we remind local residents that paving over front gardens with impermeable surfaces and without planning permission is a breach of planning controls. While there are many such examples already in place in the neighbourhood, the Council is likely to take enforcement action on new cases.

RBKC planning policies requires installation of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) for basement projects. But there are questions over the extent to which these, and the use of FLIPS (Flooding Local Improvement Process) can be relied up to address risks. It looks as though the Council will tighten up on this aspect of basement policies in the next version of the Borough’s Local Plan (currently in preparation. Meanwhile the StQW Forum is questioning with RBKC the safety and risks to life of continuing to give planning consent to basements that include bedrooms in addition to living areas.

The OPDC Draft Local Plan – our second set of comments July 2021

The consultation undertaken by the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation on its Post Submission Modified Draft Local Plan finished on July 5th. We prepared a second set of detailed representations, which were submitted to the OPDC.

The Development Corporaation now reviews all the submissions made, and prepares reponsed to these before passing them on to Planning Inspector Paul Clark. The Inspector;s final report on the Draft Plan is not expected for several months.

Our comments were summarised below in our representations. We are aware that Hammersmith & Fulham Council, the Friends of Wormwood Scrubs, Friends of Little Scrubs, and the Hammersmith Society sent in responses making many of the same points.

• We consider the consultation material, including online sessions and the sub-site set up by OPDC to be inadequate for reasons explained below. The magnitude of the changed spatial and transport elements of the Draft Plan was seriously understated by OPDC.
• Anyone reading the Table of Modifications alone might well not even notice the fundamental changes relating to Old Oak North, Scrubs Lane, Channel Gate and transport infrastructure.
• Unmodified parts of the Plan continue to make exaggerated and unevidenced claims for the ‘connectivity’ of ‘Places’ at Old Oak and the impact that the OOC rail interchange will have on the wider area of West London.
• This impact will emerge only after 2030 by which time this PSMDLP will need to have been reviewed once if not twice.
• Levels of uncertainty on funding for infrastructure remain very high. For the next 10 years until OOC station is in operation, OPDC and Mayoral ambitions for the area should be scaled back – particularly at a time of major change resulting from the pandemic.
• With a high probability of no new Overground stations and no new east-west road connection between East Acton and North Hammersmith, the whole coherence of the 19.2 version of the Draft Local Plan is undermined.
• We are not persuaded by the content of the BNP Paribas Strategic Site Allocations Viability Study (see Annex C).
• Entirely new proposals for concentrations of very high density and high rise housing are introduced as modifications to a Local Plan already 3 years into its examination stage.
• Proposals for a ‘major Old Oak town centre’ are unclear and incoherent.
• Lack of adequate new public transport improvements means that proposals at Channel Gate and Scrubs Lane will not conform with 2021 London Plan policy.
• There is no evidence that the Duty of Co-operation with neighbouring Boroughs has continued to be met since September 2018, and some evidence to the contrary.

Our full ‘Part 2’ response is too large a file to be added here as a download. But please email inf@stqw,org if you would like a copy. See also our earlier post for Part 1 of our representations.

We will continue to arge that OPDC should make a fresh start on what is a ‘modified’ Draft Local Plan which no longer sets out a coherent set of future proposals for the Old Oak area. .

Last chance to influence the OPDC Draft Local Plan

This Draft Local Plan form the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation was ‘submitted for examination’ as long ago as October 2018. After a series of public hearings the following year, Planning Inspector Paul Clark issued ‘interim findings’ and ruled that the Plan’s proposals for locating new housing on the 45 acres of land owned by Cargiant were not viable.

This meant that the OPDC had to look around for new housing sites. It spent 16 months doing so and in March 2021 submitted a set of ‘modifications’ to its part examined Draft Local Plan.

Usually such modifications are relatively minor tweaks. But in this case, the changes are very substantial. Gone are plans for ‘Old Oak Park’ and an new Overground station at Hythe Road. New housing sites are being identified in East Acton (labelled by OPDC as the ‘Western Lands’) and at Scrubs Lane. The part of the plan located in Ealing now has no road connection planned with the part of the plan in North Hammersmith. These are effectively two separate Local Plans.

This is not the joined up and coherent vision for a new Old Oak that was promised back in 2015. The StQW Forum has been working closely with the Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum since 2016 in responding to OPDC proposals. The more we have looked at the details, the less convincing is this 2021 version of a Draft Local Plan. This does not feel like the best solution for regeneration of this part of London.

The timing now makes little sense. Completion of the HS2/GWR/Crossrail station is not now scheduled until sometime between 2029 and 2033. There is a decade of construction work yet to happen. The new station has a cost estimate of £1.7bn, will be 1km in length, and yet will now have no vehicle access at its eastern end. So no means of arriving at or departing from the station on this side of the Scrubs, other than via the canal towpath at Mitre Bridge. Claims that this rail interchange will be a ‘catalyst’ with a ‘transformative’ effect for our part of London no longer stack up.

In their search for further housing sites, OPDC planners have added a fifth ‘cluster’ along Scrubs Lane, at the site known as the North Pole Depot (to the north of the Mitre Bridge Industrial Estate). This is earmarked as a housing site with further tall buildings, although it is not yet clear how road access will be provided.

Our Forum has joined forces with the Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum in submitting a set of representations to Planning Inspector Paul Clark, midway through the consultation. This will be followed up with detailed comments on the ‘modifications’

We hope local residents will share our view that the OPDC’s Post Submission Modified Draft Local Plan does not meet the legal tests of ‘soundness’ and should not proceed to adoption. There is time for a different and better Plan to be prepared, taking account of all that has changed for the future of London as a result of the pandemic as well as changes in London Plan policy towards further tall buildings in the city.

The OPDC consultation remains live to July 5th. Comments can be sent to OPDC via email at

Our response to RBKC proposals for St Helens Gardens

The Council at the end of April 2021 launched a consultation on a set of improvements to St Helens Gardens. These were aimed at making the street more pedestrian-friendly and safer in terms of traffic speeds. The deadline was June 15th.

We held an open Zoom session for all members on June 10th to discuss the proposals, some of which had strong support while others did not. Using Zoom polls, we were able to capture everyone’s views on the specific elements of the scheme.

Our final consultation response, including the results of the Zoom polls can be downloaded at the link below:

The strongest support was for a new Zebra crossing on St Quintin Avenue, just south of the junction with St Helens Gardens. This should slow traffic on a stretch of road where speeding has always been a problem and where the 20mph limit is widely ignored.

Other proposals were less popular or seen as not needed. We have asked for any savings from the original proposals to be diverted to renewing the paving in North Pole Road – seen as a higher priority than installing porphyry setts in the parking bays of St Helens Gardens. There was a also a majority for retaining all current parking bays in the street rather than adding a raised crossing (not a full zebra) roughly opposite the church gates.

The Council will now consider all responses to the consultation and decide which parts of the overall scheme to put in place. The works are due to place later this year,