Our forum was first designated by RB Kensington and Chelsea in 2013. Designation under the 2011 Localism Act last for 5 years at a time. We applied successfully for ‘redesignation’ in 2018 and applied a second time to the Council in mid 2023.
RBKC consulted on our application from late August 2023 until October 6th. A total of 75 representations were received. Of these 72 supported the redesignation.
The Council has now formally confirmed the decision to redesignate via a ‘Key Decision’.
The documents involved can be downloaded below. We are grateful for the support shown by our members and other in the neighbourhood.
The Forum is now embarking on a review and update of our neighbourhood plan, which was adopted by RBKC as part of the development plan for the Borough in 2018.
The Greening your Home event on September 14th at West London Bowling Club was very well attended. Seventy local residents came along on a sunny evening to hear short talks from The Lady Linzie on growing heritage vegetables, and Aimee Spanswick on sustainable gardening and permaculture.
Robert Pereno from LancWest Grows Best started the evening with his presentation (a memorable performance) on the Club’s terrace. Preeti Gulati Tyagi, from RBKC’s Planning Department explained the Council’s new policies to support sustainable retrofitting of homes.
PDF versions of slides from the presentations by Aimee and Preeti are available to download below. These include useful information for those wanting to do some ecological gardening, or thinking about what needs planning permission when retrofitting a home.
THURSDAY 14TH SEPTEMBER 6:30 – 8:00PM WEST LONDON BOWLING CLUB 112A Highlever Rd, London W10 6PL
The Climate Crisis is one of the greatest challenges of our times. St Quintin & Woodlands Neighbourhood Forum & St Helen’s Resident Association are hosting an event that explores what we can do to reduce carbon emissions within our homes and create a greener and healthier environment.
Along with brief presentations, there will be people with expertise on hand to answer your questions. We look forward to seeing you there.
The sessions will cover:
Greening your Garden
With advice from local gardeners and horticulturalists
Greening your Home
RBKC Planning Officers will explain what the new Borough policies mean in terms of retrofitting our homes and greening our neighbourhood. Send your questions in advance and we will answer them on the night: firstname.lastname@example.org
Meet and chat to neighbours who have experience in greening their homes and gardens. There will be refreshments on hand and the Club pay bar will be open.
Please register via Eventbrite or email email@example.com
The joint AGM of the StQW Neighbourhood Forum and the St Helens Residents Association was well attended on June 8th. A headcount recorded close to 70 members during the meeting, held as usual at St Helens Church hall.
The following members were elected as officers and management committee members:
Re-elected committee members
David Marshall, Finstock Road Fiona Withey, Kelfield Gardens Tania Martin, Highlever Road (Secretary) Catherine Mannheim, Highlever Road Pat Healy, Oakworth Road Henry Peterson, Highlever Road (Chair) Steve Divall (St Helens Church)
New committee members
Kim Evans, Dalgarno Gardens Stephen Duckworth, Pangbourne Avenue Nathanial Gee, Oxford Gardens Ben Martinez, St Helens Gardens Jeremy Raphaely, Highlever Road Co-opted members Jenny Harborne Maggie Tyler
The constitution of the Forum was amended (see earlier post for reasons for the changes). The updated constitution is below:
The Council’s preparation of a new Local Plan for the Borough is now at the stage when the Draft document is being ‘examined’ by Planning Inspector Louise Nurse. She is holding a series of public hearings in June and July 2023.
Organisations which submitted representations on the Regulation 19 Draft (along with any individuals) have been invited to attend relevant hearing sessions. These involve the Inspector asking questions on representations made. Additional submissions were invited with a deadline of June 5th.
All the background documentation on the Examination is on the RBKC website under Local Plan Review. This material includes the full draft of the proposed New Local Plan, along with recent further submissions made to the Inspector.
The StQW Forum has made four further submissions, following up the previous post on this website and our Response Form on the Regulation 19 Draft. This was sent to the Council following discussion our open meeting in St Helens Church hall on November 29th 2022.
Our four further submissions cover these issues:
a response to the Inspector’s question on whether RBKC has correctly categorised ‘strategic’ and ‘non-strategic’ policies in is new Draft Plan (this is technical issue which affects the extent to which Borough-wide policies can in future be varied or refined via a neighbourhood plan). Hearing date scheduled for afternoon of June 21st.
a response to several of the Inspector’s questions on the Site Allocation and policies for Kensal Canalside. Hearing date scheduled for all day on June 22nd, with many parties attending including several local community groups.
A response to the Inspector’s questions on the Local Plan’s draft policy for Tall Buildings
a response on Draft Site Allocation and Policy SA9 on Units 1-14 Latimer Road. This requests deletion of the last part of the following sentence in bold, requiring applicataions with High quality design that reflects the mixed character of the area and respects the Employment Zone identity. This row of light industrial/warehouse units is already the subject of a RBKC Design Code and a set of StQW Policies. The wording ‘respects the Employment Zone identity’ appears to refer to planning officers seeking building designs that look ‘commercial/industrial’ in some undefined way. For mixed use redevelopments, what is the merit in including such unclear wording?
Copies of these four submissions to the Inspector can be downloaded below.
Nursery Lane and the application from Northcare
Developers Northcare (Scotland Ltd) have made submissions on the need for extra care home spaces, under the Housing section of the Examination (scheduled hearing date the afternoon of July 11th). We will attend this hearing, but the further evidence which we submitted on why the land at Nursery Lane should remain as designated Local Green Space has not been published by the Inspector.
The Inspector’s note on the Examination states Representors should be aware that it is not my role to examine the soundness of any omission sites. Such sites will not be discussed at the Hearing sessions. An ‘omission site’ is one not selected by RBKC for a site allocation. but now promoted by a developer. We have to hope that the Inspector does not allow Northcare to attempt to challenge the Local Green Space designation via these forthcoming hearings.
Strategic and non-strategic policies in a Local Plan
The AGM of both these local organisations will be held at St Helens Church Hall, St Helens Gardens, London W10 on Thursday June 8th at 7pm.
The agenda for the meeting is below. We will be dealing sequentially with the formal agenda items on the StQW Forum and on the Helens Residents Association, given that this year the management committee is recommending some updates to the constitutions of both bodies.
The details of the proposed changes to both constitutions can be read and downloaded from this post. These changes and the reasons for them are summarised in three slides below, which will be used at the meeting on the 8th.
StQW election of management committee and officers for 2023/4
SHRA proposed changes to constitution
SHRA election of management committee and officers for 2023/4
Update on current local planning issues • RBKC Local Plan Examination in Public • Kensal Canalside • Nursery Lane application from Northcare (Scotland Ltd)
Forthcoming consultation on redesignation of StQW for a further 5 years
Reviewing the StQW Neighbourhood Plan – process and need for updating
Any other business
A StQW leaflet is being circulated to all 1,700 households in the neighbourhood area, with information about the Forum and what it does. We hope that some of those who have moved into the area in recent years will be joining as members, along with those who have not come across the forum/association in the past.
After the AGM, the StQW Forum will be submitting an application to RB Kensington and Chelsea for ‘redesignation’ for a further five years. This is a process required of all neighbourhood forums across England, of which there are now over 3,000.
The Council will then consult on this application for 6 weeks via its website at www.rbkc.gov.uk. We will post information on how to respond once this exercise gets underway.
You do not need to be a StQW member or to live within the StQW neighbourhood boundary to respond to the consultation. We hope that a wider audience in North Kensington values the work that the Forum undertakes on local planning issues.
Our previous post gave the background to the latest attempt to develop this ‘backland’ site behind Highlever Road, Brewster Gardens and Dalgarno Gardens. A care home company based in Scotland held some consultation sessions back in March on their proposals to build a 72 bed luxury care home north of the existing sheltered housing at 1 Nursery Lane.
Savills have subsequently submitted a planning application on behalf of Northcare. This is now published on the RBKC website with a reference PP/23/02302.
After RBKC successfully defended its decision to progress the StQW Neighbourhood Plan to adoption, back in 2017/18, we thought that the designation of this backland as one of three Local Green Spaces made it safe from development. As recently as November 2022 we were told by landowner William Legard that ‘the family have no future plans for the Nursery Lane site at this moment in time’.
It now seems that Northcare have taken out a 2 year option to develop the site. Their team of consultants held a first pre-application session with RBKC planners back in January 2022.
The advice of RBKC officers at three pre-application meetings has now been published along with all the application documents. The Council has said consistently that officers would be unable to support the proposal if an application were made.
Despite this advice Northcare have chosen to plough on. Having spent large sums on consultants and architects before making any contact with StQW, the Northcare’s development director explained at the March 2nd exhibition of their plans ‘we are now heavily invested in this project’.
Savills are the planning consultants and have a reputation for delivering on behalf of their clients. They are an expensive firm to use. In this instance, we share the view of RBKC officers that arguments of ‘very special circumstances’ in terms of extra care provision will not outweigh the protection of a Local Green Space designation made relatively recently (2016). ‘Very special circumstances’ have been used to gain permission for care homes on Green Belt land. But the NPPF criteria for Local Green Space designation are different.
It was a hard fought local campaign to achieve Local Green Space designation for this piece of land. The site has never been developed and is not a ‘brownfield site’. One of the three criteria for LGS designation is that the land in question must be demonstrably special to a local community and holds a particular local significance, for example because of its beauty, historic significance, recreational value (including as a playing field), tranquillity or richness of its wildlife.
The independent examiner of the StQW Draft Local Plan held a public hearing in 2015, at which StQW and Metropolis Property (at that time promoter of a housing development on Nursery Lane) gave evidence. The Examiner inspected the site, which was in a poor state at the time after several mysterious occasions of unauthorised entry and fly-tipping.
Having considered all this evidence, including views from Historic England, the Examiner said in his final report to the Council Overall, I conclude that from the content of the evidence in Annexe C, from the substance of the significant number of representations in favour of the designation and my own site visits, that the site is indeed demonstrably special to the local community; and that it holds a particular local significance for them. It also meets the other two criteria. I therefore conclude that the designation of the Nursery Lane site as Local Green Space meets the Basic Conditions.
In the 2017/18 High Court case on a judicial review application by the Legard family, Mr Justice Dove reviewed the same set of arguments and counter-claims. His 2018 judgment records that Thus I am satisfied that the Examiner’s reasons were clear and adequate, and further that the conclusions which he reached were arrived at following a proper interpretation of paragraph 77 of the Framework (the section of the then NPPF on Local Green Space).
Savills have provided a Planning Statement and Montagu Evans a Built Historic Environment Statement. These documents are too large to upload to this website but can be found on the RBKC planning file. Both of these reports try to undermine the carefully considered conclusions of a Neighbourhood Plan Examiner and a High Court judge.
Consultants Concilio, who organised the February/March consultation sessions and survey, have prepared a Statement of Community Involvement which is unusually objective and accurate for firms who handle ‘engagement’ on planning applications. This states that The vast majority of people did not want to see this site developed. The residents were steadfast in their desire to keep this land in its current condition. We were able to get some comments on the design, and the community spaces, which we will take on board. However the key takeaway was that residents would be difficult to convince of the need for development of this site. The full document is also on the RBKC planning file.
The published closing date for responses on the Northcare planning application is May 26th. It may be that no decision is made by RBKC until after the public hearings on the Examination of the RBKC New Draft Local Plan. Northgate/Savills made representations last autumn that the LGS designation for Nursery Lane should be ‘removed’. It is up to the appointed Planning Inspector (Louise Nurser BA (Hons), Dip Up, MRTPI) to decide whether she wants to hear evidence on this question during the forthcoming Examination in Public hearings in June and July. We will be there from StQW to take part in the hearing, should this situation arise.
It will help simply to say that the land at Nursery Lane is designated as Local Green Space, and that this strong planning protection for all three remaining backland sites in our neighbourhood remains important to local residents.
Were this site to be developed, the potential at the Bowling Club and the Methodist Church site behind Kelfield Gardens will be eyed up next by developers. Views on the need for an expensive private care home at Nursery Lane can be added in an objection. Please include your name and street address.
The petition to RBKC organised by the Nursery Gardens Action Group back in 2015 amassed 2,500 signatures. We need to show for a second time that the land is demonstrably special to the local community, and unsuitable for a care home which will be unaffordable to all but a few. One day in the future a set of good uses for this open space will emerge, and StQW/SHRA members are not short of ideas.
It is not NIMBY to want to retain pieces of open space in North Kensington, especially after the long and complex process of achieving Local Green Space designations has been undertaken through sustained community effort.
The council is consulting on installing 164 new bays for parking rented e-bikes, across the Borough. The reasoning for this initiative is as below:
The number of trips made by rental e-bikes has increased greatly in Kensington and Chelsea over the last few years.
However, we recognise that parking of rental e-bikes on narrower footways can cause a nuisance to residents, particularly where the footway is obstructed for those using wheelchairs or buggies. The Council is therefore proposing to provide dedicated parking bays in appropriate locations across the borough for use by e-bike hire operators and their customers. This will allow us to bring more control to where bikes are parked and reduce the impact on pedestrians.
A new Traffic Order is required to introduce these new bays. Streetscape changes and removal of resident parking bays have proved to be contentious issues in this neighbourhood.
Increasing use of e-bikes as an alternative and sustainable use of transport has its supporters, but rental e-bikes also cause problems for pedestrians. Riding on the pavement, and dumping bikes after use, are two such downsides to increasing use of rented bikes.
These proposed parking locations are for e-bikes. The current trial of e-scooters for hire is a Transport for London initiative and is managed by TfL
The most recent statement from TfL on the future of the trial is as follows,
‘Our current trial of rental e-scooters is expected to run to autumn 2023. We are currently running a competitive procurement process for the new phase of London’s rental e-scooter trial, and operators will be selected on their ability to meet strict safety requirements and high operating standards.’
This development proposal in Latimer Road has been discussed on a couple of occasions at meetings of the Forum, before and after a planning application was submitted (most recently at our March 1st 2023 open session on Zoom).
A copy of the objection submitted by the Forum can be read below. The application reference number is http://PP/23/00778 and all representations are published on the RBKC online planning file.
From the 1940s onward the undeveloped ‘backland’ (lying behind the terraces of Brewster Gardens, Dalgarno Gardens, and the northern section of Highlever Road) was used by Clifton Nurseries. In 2014 this company left the site and the land was marketed as a ‘residential development opportunity’.
A four year saga followed with the owners of the land (the Legard family, in Yorkshire) working with developers Metropolis Property Ltd on proposals for 20 ‘townhouses’ on the site (see below).
A similar effort is now being mounted by care home company Northcare (Scotland) Ltd to develop a 72 bed care home on this land. A pre-application consultation was launched by the ‘community engagement’ consultancy Concilio on February 29th 2023
Back in 2014/5, the StQW Neighbourhood Plan was at an advanced stage of preparation, after much hard work by local residents. The Draft Plan proposed designation of the remaining three ‘backlands’ in the neighbourhood as ‘Local Green Space’. This was a new planning designation at that time, intended by Government to protect smallish areas of open space valued by local people.
Neighbourhood plans (introduced via the 2011 Localism Act) have always been the primary means of designating Local Green Spaces. There are now over 600 such open spaces protected across England (although not many in London).
The three Local Green Spaces in our neighbourhood are the West London Bowling Club, the Kelfield Gardens backland (owned by the Methodist Church, and Nursery Lane (inherited by the Legard family in the 1950s through marriage into the St Quintin family). W H St Quintin laid out the streets of this corner of North Kensington with the intention that these ‘backland’ spaces be used for sports and recreation. The Bowling Club dates from this time. Nursery Lane was the Ashfield Tennis Club until the 1940s.
This history and the justification for these LGS designations is set out in the StQW Neighbourhood Plan. When the Draft Plan was examined by an ‘independent examiner’ he held a public hearing, listened to evidence from consultants acting for Metropolis Property and from local residents and StQW, and inspected the site (by then not looking at its best after lying unused for 2 years).
The independent examiner’s report recommended to RBKC that all three backlands should be designated as Local Green Space. This is a strong protection against any form of ‘development’ (as defined in the 1990 Town and Country Planning Act). The examiner said in his report I do not regard the site as previously developed land. This was despite the efforts of the Metropolis to argue to the contrary (‘previously developed land’ is a term from the National Planning Policy Framework applied to ‘brownfield land’).
Following this independent examination in 2016 the Legard family and Metropolis applied for judicial review of the Council’s decision to progress the neighbourhood plan to a local referendum.
This JR application was defended by the Council, with the StQW Forum as an ‘interested party’. The High Court case was not heard until late 2017. Meanwhile the Draft Neighbourhood Plan was voted on at a local referendum in February 2016, with 91% support on a 23% turnout of registered electors in the area. In 2018 the JR application was dismissed.
The Council adopted the StQW Neighbourhood Plan in July 2018, as part of the statutory development plan for the Borough. This remains the position in the new Draft RBKC Local Plan, as submitted in January 2023 for ‘examination’ by a Planning Inspector.
These decisions of the Council and the High Court have left the site with only a very limited range of permissible uses that are compatible with a Local Green Space designation. A Certificate of Lawful Development for (non-retail) nursery garden use was granted by RBKC and Mark Enright’s business took up a tenancy from the Legards. As a result of rent increases, Mark is relocating this part of his business in September 2023.
Previous posts on this site give more detail of the 2014-2018 episode. This part of a long saga remains relevant to what happens next on this piece of land.
The latest proposals
Having heard from neighbours overlooking the site that visits were taking place from what looked like various surveyors and consultants, StQW wrote to the Legards asking if they had future plans for the site. The brief response on 15th November 2022 was ‘The family have no future plans for the Nursery Lane site at this moment in time’.
Since then, events have moved fast. With no attempt to consult the neighbourhood forum or residents in the immediate area, a pre-application consultation was started on 20th February by ‘community engagement’ consultants Concilio. We had picked up at the end of January that Savills had made representations to RBKC on behalf of Northcare, as part of the consultation on the Council’s new Draft Local Plan.
From Savills presentation 9th February
As yet, we do not know when and why any contact was established between Northcare (Scotland) Ltd and the Legard family. In response to our queries on the present ownership of the site, Concilio told us on 8th February With regards to ownership of the site I can confirm ‘The Leggard family own the site although Northcare control it as we have a missive in place with an option to purchase subject to planning permission.’
This arrangement is similar to that established between the Legards and Metropolis Property Ltd. As yet there is no entry on the Land Registry title referring to an interest in the landholding by Northcare.
Our letter to Savills of 14th February, following our online meeting with them and Concilio on the 9th February, can be read and downloaded below. This letter set out our understanding of the specific planning context of the site. An annex to the letter gives the conclusions of Mr Justice Dove in his 2018 judgment on the High Court case.
We want to be sure that Northcare have the full factual background to the 2014-18 period. We cannot tell what they have been told by the Legards. This company should not remain under any illusions as to the planning status and history of a 50 year period of attempts to develop this site. These include earlier applications (by RBKC in 1970) and by the Legards in 1981. Planning inquiries were involved in both cases, with the Inspectors deciding against the proposed developments, in the interests of retaining open space as designed into the street layout 120 years ago.
As an outcome of the 1970 RBKC application, the Inspector conceded that the southern part of the original backland could be a suitable location for sheltered housing. The present building a 1 Nursery Lane was built in 1979 as a result. The 38 flats in this sheltered housing continue to be managed by the Council. The flats are being upgraded with the installation of wetrooms as and when residents change over, and the interior of the building has been refurbished.
The Nursery Lane sheltered housing does not provide for clients with dementia or high dependency needs. Neighbouring care homes do so (at Princess Louise in Pangbourne Avenue and at Alan Morkhill House in St Marks Road).
The Council’s initial response to the proposals from Northcare
It is not unusual for companies involved in property development to seek out possible suitable sites to add to their portfolio. Savills act for many such clients. Savills on behalf of Northcare submitted a representation to RBKC as part of the autumn 2022 consultation on the Regulation 19 version of the new Draft Local Plan.
This representation can be read/downloaded below. It argues that the Draft Local Plan is ‘unsound’ in failing to provide for sufficient numbers of additional care home places during the ‘plan period’ of 2021 -2041. It continues by making a case for the suitability of the Nursery Lane site and proposes that the Local Green Space designation is unwarranted and should be ‘removed’ from the new Local Plan, as part of the Examination yet to be held.
The Council’s view on this representation is set out in the schedule of responses approved by full Council on 1st February 2023 and since submitted to the Secretary of State for Examination. This response reads as below:
RBKC response to Savills representation on behalf of Northcare (Scotland) Ltd (page 196 of RBKC Consultation Schedule – Publication Policies (Regulation 19) January 2023)
The St Quintin and Woodlands Neighbourhood Plan (July 2018) Local Green space designation for the Nursery Lane site went through examination and the independent examiner concluded that the site was demonstrably special to the local community and should be designated as Local Greenspace. In his report dated 26 October 2015 the Inspector found the site to be a tranquil green space where a significant number of households have a view of it. Reference was made to the consultation statement recording the wildlife and birds that had been seen on the site listing the species. It was also concluded by the examiner that it was an historical backspace that had been designed for this purpose. There is no justification for revisiting the Neighbourhood Plan designation as part of the Local Plan examination process and indeed the Neighbourhood Plan is part of the Development Plan for the borough. The site designation is not unsound and there is not a critical need for care home accommodation in the borough which dictates that a care home needs to go on this site. Paragraph 103 of the revised NPPF (2021) makes clear that a Local Greenspace designation carries significant weight stating, “Policies for managing development within a Local Greenspace should be consistent with those for Green Belts.”
We are disappointed that the Concilio letter of 20th February, widely distributed locally and launching the pre-application consultation, makes no mention of this response from the local planning authority. Nor does the material on the Concilio consultation website at https://nurserylanecare.co.uk/ A balanced picture of the planning context of the site is not being provided by the consultants acting for Northcare.
We have suggested to Concilio that the claims made on their website, on the need for care home places in the Borough, are misleading without also referring to what the Council has said above in its response to Savills. Yes, there will be demand for more care home places in this and every London Borough. Yes, ‘bed-blocking’ has been a major problem for NHS and social care provision for decades, given the UK’s post-war history of separating these two parts of the public sector.
But to claim that A number of very high-dependency and vulnerable residents would otherwise have to have an enforced hospital stay without access to this new care home is in our view alarmist, unevidenced, and a simplistic attempt to gain public support for a commercially driven planning proposal.
As the Borough with the highest housing values in the country, the Borough already has a range of ‘luxury’ care homes. More will appear in the coming years, in response to market demand. Meanwhile we have sufficient faith in the Council’s planning department to believe that it has prepared a Local Plan that addresses future ‘need’. No other representations were made questioning this aspect of the Local Plan.
StQW/SHRA will be holding one or more open meetings on these proposals from Northcare, before commenting on planning application. Our initial view is that the best time to undertake any form of new care home or housing for the elderly would be when RBKC chooses to rebuild and/or expand the current sheltered housing at Nursery Lane, making full use of the land currently occupied by the roadway and the fact that the southern third of the original backland is already ‘developed land’.