Author Archives: Henry Peterson

Proposals for the redevelopment of Ivebury Court, Latimer Road

This application for a replacement building at the southern end of Latimer Road was discussed at our AGM on May 30th. Objections have outnumbered expressions of support, albeit that most of those asking for the scheme to be refused do not give specific grounds based on RBKC and StQW planning policies

The letter of objection from the StQW Forum can be downloaded below.

Our letter addresses claims made in many objections that a single developer has bought up most or all of Units 1-14 on the western side of Latimer Road. This is not true. Units 2-14 remain in individual ownerships (with Nos 13 and 14 having the same owner).

Planning applications often prompt strong responses. But these need to stick to facts rather than rumour.

Our views on Borough coverage by an Article 4 Direction

A previous post has explained the history of the ‘borough-wide’ Article 4 Direction adopted by RBKC in 2013. This removed the national permitted development rights for change of use between commercial and residential floorspace (in existing buildings).

Ministers have instructed the Council to review and reduce the coverage of this Direction, so that it applies only in those areas where change of use would cause significant harm.

The strong view at our open meeting was that Latimer Road should not be included in revised and reduced areas to be covered by the Direction. Our reasoning is set out in the letter below. The final decision lies with the Minister and not with the Council, so we wait to see the outcome.

Latimer Road, as the main concentration of commercial floorspace in the neighbourhood, is the street most affected. After this review by the Department of Levelling Up and Regeneration, many streets in the Borough will be in the same position of including a mix of residential and commercial floorspace and will no longer be covered by an Article 4 Direction on change of use.

Slides from our June 2022 AGM

Our 2022 Annual General meeting was held on May 30th. The slides from the meeting can be seen downloaded below (in two parts, as a large file).

These include the outcome of elections for the management committees of St Helens Residents Association and the St Quintin and Woodlands Neighbourhood Forum, along with an update on local planning issues.

Along with planning applications in the pipeline the slides explain the implications of different outcomes on the current review of areas of Kensington to be covered by an Article 4 Direction, removing national Permitted Development Rights on change of use from commercial to residential.

The vote at the AGM was strongly in favour of requesting RBKC and the Department of Levelling Up Housing and Communities to leave Latimer Road out of a revised set of Article 4 boundaries, so that national PD rights would apply in the street as in other mixed use streets in the Borough.

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 sthelensassn@aol.com 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 Traffic@rbkc.gov.uk, 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 https://planningconsult.rbkc.gov.uk/NLPR_IandO/consultationHome. 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 sthelensassn@aol.com 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 https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/planning-and-building-control/planning-policy/flooding-planning-policies

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.