The demolition of Court Exhibition Centre
History of the Exhibition Centre
In 1935, it was suggested that the British Government take the initiative and build an exhibition centre specifically for the British Industries Fair.
A group of industrialists took action in late 1935 and drew up their own proposals for a new exhibition and event centre at Earl’s Court. The problem that they had was that the grounds are crossed by four separate sets of railway tracks. However, plans were created and it was decided that on top of the tracks, a giant steel and concrete building was to be erected. Sir Ralph Glyn, who was chairman of Earl’s Court Ltd, had laid down some basic requirements:
The building must provide a total of 42,000 sqm of exhibition floor space on no more than two levels
Seating for 23,000 in a column free auditorium over looking an arena, in the middle of which must be a giant pool:
• The entire auditorium including the pool and seating to be convertible at speed to flat floor exhibition space
• There must be parking on site for 2,000 cars.
The idea was to construct a show centre to rival any other in the world and to dominate the nearby Olympia exhibition hall. American architect C. Howard Crane designed the building, which was his most famous UK commission—an Art Moderne convention centre that opened in 1937, and was Europe’s biggest structure by volume spanning 250 ft.
The plan was to create Europe's largest structure by volume. Situated in the centre of Earl’s Court One's ground floor is a swimming pool—198 ft (60 m) long and 98 feet (30 m) wide and amazingly, the 750 ton concrete exhibition floor can be removed and reinstated at the push of a button.
After war broke out, Earl’s Court was soon used for the manufacture and repair of London’s air defence balloon barrage. Giant ‘blimps’ were inflated and tested under the 118ft ceiling.
The Exhibition Centre is an iconic building that is known worldwide and has hosted many famous mid-range consumer exhibitions such as the Ideal Home, The Boat Show, The London Book Fair, the recent Military show and is the showcase for many UK based products and companies. It has also staged memorable concerts: Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, George Michael and Madonna and most recently the Volleyball events during the 2012 Olympic Games.
Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre 2, which faces West Brompton Station was completed in 1991, and opened by Diana, Princess of Wales, providing further space to the original Exhibition Centre making this site considerably larger than the Olympia Exhibition Hall, even with the recent addition of a mezzanine floor.
The Exhibition Centres attract approximately 3m visitors and 30,000 exhibitors each year. This major attraction makes a significant contribution to the local community, benefiting local hotels, restaurants, bars, taxi firms and local business who have adapted to cater for the needs of the exhibition centres. (ECWKOA Joint SPD, March 2012)
At present there is a Certificate of Immunity from listing the building issued by English Heritage on 13 January 2011, which will expire on 12 January 2016.
The Loss of Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre
Many Hotels and small businesses in the area have been established in response to the centre being a destination location. EC Properties LP have indicated that they will put money towards improvements to Earl’s Court Road but with the projected loss of business, many will close, or have already closed such as Langan’s on Old Brompton Road, and will constitute a loss of amenity to the residential population who were attracted to the area because of the vitality, diversity, late night shopping and eating that is presently available.
The loss of Earl’s Court will also have an impact on UK businesses, who have exhibited at the centre (http://www.eco.co.uk/events/). ExCel is not suitable for these kinds of mid range consumer exhibitions, and in some cases the exhibitions/shows have gone to ExCel only to return to Central London at the request of their exhibitors, who favoured a more central location.
The Olympia Exhibition Hall is smaller and has more columns, so it is more difficult to erect exhibitions there, and TfL have restricted tube service to Olympia station. The trains only run when there is an exhibition on and the services start at 10.00am which is a frustration for exhibitors, employees and visitors a like who will have to change at West Brompton for an Overground connection to Olympia.
There does not appear to have been an evaluation of the loss of the Exhibition trade within the reports submitted. CapCo, as the parent company are property developers and not experienced exhibition organisers, and there has been a lack of investment in the Centre for many years.
At the AGM of the Earl’s Court Chapter of the Chamber of Commerce (ECS Business Group) the conclusion of the meeting was that ‘once CapCo’s demolition and redevelopment of the Exhibition Centre begins, we can expect wide-ranging and very disturbing effects on businesses all over Earl’s Court.’
No replacement activity or centre
Without the Exhibition Centre there will be no destination location in Earl’s Court to support the existing businesses. The developers have made the case that they do not feel there is a need for a fixed point Cultural centre that might replace the centre, it was indicated in the Joint SPD that there was a need for a venue with a footfall of 250,000 visitors a year but this has not materialised, and the developers are opting for inclusion of the present ‘cultural’ venues within the area such as ‘The Troubadour’ (a coffee shop with a small musical venue in the basement), pop-up galleries and open air cultural activities in ‘Exhibition Square’.
The need for another hotel is not clear, with the anticipated footfall to the site being reduced by three-quarters; there will be existing hotel capacity, as there will be no need to come to Earl’s Court. There is no mention of the re-use of the present Exhibition Centre as a Conference Centre, which might support some of the hotels, restaurants or bars, or retention of its iconic frontage within the plan.
Change of Use
The question as to whether there is a covenant on the building and whether or not this application requires a change of use.
‘My present view is that ECO cannot change the use of the space between Philbeach Gardens and exhibition building from road/parking space to town houses. It is presently an open space with no building. That space can only be changed to garden/open space. Secondly, structures/houses must be confined to the present space where structures are presently standing. Thirdly, the use have to be entertainment based of the same duration as the present not complete change of use to residential based vision.’ (HG)
The Loss of the West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates
The Gibbs Green estate was built in 1961 and the West Kensington estate was built between 1972 and 1974. The estates have undergone extensive works under the Decent Homes Initiative and many of the residents do not want to leave their homes and are being supported by local MP Andrew Slaughter, and Jonathan Rosenberg (www.westkengibbsgreen.wordpress.com).
This is a 20-year interdependent site, without the fulfilment of the entire site functionality of the site will be severely restricted. The lack of an Area Action Plan resulted in a lack of assessment to the adjacent areas, which fall outside of the area defined by the Supplementary Planning Document, or the impact on the rest of North West London, and did not take into consideration other developments that are taking place: Lots Road, Warwick Road north of the A4, Westfield’s, White City, Kensal Opportunity Area and Park Royal.
There are several reasons why the LBHF might not materialise as planned:
1. 4 Judicial Reviews by the West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estate.
2. The LBHF Early Mover list has been referred to the Police and Deloitte’s Fraud department are looking into the case.
3. The conclusion of the negotiations between the developers and TfL
4. The legal position of leaseholders/freeholders and their reduced equity in their properties once relocated, and with top up money provided by the Council some will become Shared Owners, with a limit on their Succession rights.
5. The CLSA agreement to sell the Estates.
6. RMT workers at Lillie Bridge Engineering Depot do not wish to move to Ruislip.
The site has 19 Conservation Areas adjacent to the proposed developed area. Of particular concern, are the listed terrace between 62-66 Lillie Road, the Brompton Cemetery, which is a Conservation Area, Metropolitan Open Land Grade 1 listed 16.5 hectare historic park and Garden, and St Cuthbert’s Church in Philbeach Gardens, which is Grade II* listed building.
The Developers seduction road show campaign was misleading, and the Council slow to respond with lack lustre didactic consultations with residents with a series of events that were poorly advertised. The proposals were largely illustrative than realistic.
The nature of the SPD was by its nature confined to the actual site area rather than the wider area, or within the context of this part of London. An Area Action plan would have addressed many of the concerns of residents, and would have included actual usage rather than indication of increased usage limited to the site.
The Affordable Housing proposal of the Application was released in October. Planning Applications on the website were difficult to navigate and the proposals, and the Planning Application, which amounted to over 1,000 pages of PDF, hard to download and some pages did not open. Hardcopies were available a libraries, the Planning Offices at the Town Halls and a hard copy would cost residents £200, which reduced accessibility to the information and excluded many residents without access to the Internet.
Financial Viability of the developers
Seagrave Road, which is owned by CapCo, is a 50-50 split between the Kwok Brothers who are presently awaiting trial in Hong Kong on corruption and it has been rumoured that they would also be interested parties in other parts of the development.
The fear is that only the RBKC site will be developed, which would leave the site landlocked by the railway line, leading more congestion on the Warwick Road, or that they will demolish the centre and sell on with planning consent.
The amount of Affordable Housing, both Rented and Intermediate is low given the size of the development and the fact that this is one of the last brown field sites in RBKC, so concern was expressed at the late suggestion of a Free Secondary School on the site. It is essential that this does not impact on any of the previously considered S106 for community use or Affordable Housing.
Conditions and S106 agreements
The application was heavy on words but light on detail leaving many of the detailed points to be determined as Conditions and S106 by the Major Planning Committee without reference to the residents who have made representations on the Planning Application itself.
There is also concern about the robustness and enforceability by RBKC and LBHF Councils of the S106 for the developer to complete the site as proposed.
Density of the site
The density of the site has been determined as Central in LBHF due to its apparent proximity to a Town Centre, i.e. Fulham Broadway, which might be many things but it is not a Town Centre.
Michael Bach, of the Kensington Society, has repeatedly requested information from the bi-borough planning officer and CapCo.
‘The key question that I was asking and which you have not answered is whether, in calculating the density figure for this application what is the area of the whole site and what is the site area that has been used to calculate the density.’ (MB)
Which he feels that he has never had a substantive reply.
‘I believe that the density of the development will lead to negative impacts on the Earl’s Court community, for example in traffic congestion on the roads, increased pollution and congestion on the Underground. The Design Review Panel (formed by invitation from LBHF and RBKC to review development proposals for a site at Earl's Court and Seagrave Road) commented on density as follows:
The Panel questions the desirability of such intense high-density development in this location given the predominance of lower rise existing development in its surroundings. It is clear that, in order to build over so much of the existing rail infrastructure, a dense development will be required to make the scheme viable. In the Panel's view it is vital that the communities of the two Boroughs understand the sheer scale of what is proposed for the site. The Panel has yet to be convinced that a more modest development, which builds over less of the existing infrastructure, can nevertheless meet the objectives for regeneration and improved connectivity.
The Officers comment to members of the Major Planning Development Committee was:
With regard to the proposals for application 1, the density of development is at the lowest point in the range included within the London Plan density matrix. The scale and massing, layout and provision of open space are considered to provide an appropriate response to the surrounding context.
It seems to me that the only way this can be challenged is to argue that Earl’s Court already suffers from high density and congestion and that the new development needs to be at an even lower density to redress this situation. (KC)
In the Earl’s Court and West Kensington Opportunity Area Joint SPD, March 2012, it states:
10•13 This chapter sets out the transport impacts of, and interventions and further work required to support a development scenario that includes 5,560 homes and 12,165 jobs.
10•14 Two higher transport scenarios were considered in the first draft of the SPD:
• 8,286 homes and 24,050 jobs; and
• 10,647 homes and 31,895 jobs.
These scenarios were both discounted due to their impacts to the transport networks and not considered further in this draft. The first of these scenarios could not be supported given the increases in vehicle delay on the A4. The second scenario resulted in unacceptable impacts to both the highway and public transport networks.
Yet, the Major Planning Committee approved 7,600 residential units in this mixed development site.
Heights, Scale and Massing
1.8 Context “The buildings fronting Warwick Road…are dominated by mansion blocks that rise to eight storeys in height”. There are just three mansion blocks in Warwick Road. Kensington Mansions and Nevern Mansions are 5-storeys high and Langham Mansions with 7-storeys, so their heights cannot be considered to be representative of Warwick Road, nor setting a precedent for building heights, scale and massing within the site.
In the recommendations made in the Joint SPD, the lowest out of the three scenarios was considered to be appropriate for the Opportunity Area with 5,560 homes and 12,165 jobs, and yet between the two Boroughs the developers have been granted 7,600 units with 930 units in RBKC alone. With a clutter of 28-storey tower blocks around the Empress State building, Mansion blocks ranging from 12-15-storeys set back from the terraces of town houses backing onto Philbeach Gardens and Eardley Crescent, with the town houses forming a cliff-like edge along their garden walls.
It is acknowledged by TfL that Cromwell Road is almost to capacity, and the Earl’s Court One-Way System, which runs from Shepherd’s Bush roundabout to the Embankment, is often gridlocked.
At present Warwick Road, which also feeds into the Cromwell Road, will affectively be reduced to two-lanes from three, as there will be the entrance and exit from the site onto this road.
The introduction of 4,300 parking spaces on site, will contribute to further congestion and impact on Air Quality and the wider Earl’s Court One-Way System and Cromwell Road.
It was the stated aim of the SPD that the developers would try and find a way of ameliorating the existing impact on the area of the Earl’s Court One-Way System, this resulted in a proposed North-South Road from Cromwell Road to Lillie Road, which will have a speed restriction and will not be an effective through-route to relieve the Warwick/Earl’s Court Roads.
It is acknowledged in the applicants’ Framework Construction Environmental Management Plan that there will be increased vehicle movements, traffic congestion, and pressure on the local road network at the site access gates. Works traffic, at a rate of 10-12 vehicle movements per hour, will reduce capacity on Warwick Road and given the construction that is due to start shortly along the railway line, and over Tesco’s on Cromwell Road will substantially impede the access of construction traffic to the site using the Northern Access Road, under Tesco’s and alongside the track into the site, behind Philbeach Gardens.
On completion it is acknowledged that there will be a reduction in flow along Lillie/Old Brompton Roads, which are already very slow moving roads.
Furthermore, the proposal to have marshalling facilities on the M4, with site traffic coming down the busy and narrow North End Road, turning at the roundabout onto the single lane Lillie Road, coming over a Victorian bridge, and turning into Warwick Road, do not seem realistic given the rapid changeability of traffic movements within the area.
The studies put forward as evidence to support the traffic management plan are simply not credible.
There are three tube stations in the area:
1. Earl’s Court Zone 1/2 District/Piccadilly
2. West Brompton Zone 2 District/Overground
3. West Kensington* Zone 3 District
The excellent PTAL rating for Earl’s Court Road station are not totally supported by evidence given by TfL and do not reflect the true usage of the station, the mitigations are not plausible, and in some cases might not be delivered. TfL’s figures for 2008 state that there were 21m entries and exits from Earl’s Court Station, with 19m interchange travellers. The proposed plans to re-open the tunnel and the third staircase from the mezzanine level of the station to the District Line platforms will increase the level of access to the station and platforms but do nothing to increase the width or length of the platforms, nor eradicate the pinch point of the one down escalator serving the Piccadilly Line. The opening of the tunnel will merely increase the access capacity to the station without improving the present levels of overcrowding for passengers on the platforms.
Mitigations indicated are the upgrade of the Piccadilly Line and Crossrails 1 and 2. The Piccadilly Line upgrade is not scheduled until 2028, with three additional trains per hour, Crossrail 1 plans to open in late 2018 and Crossrail II has not yet got approval or funding.
*West Brompton Station: extension of Network Rail platforms and enlarged gate line—to increase capacity. This will be in conjunction with Southern trains becoming eight-car trains by 2014 and Overground trains becoming five-car by 2016. The Overground Orbital Network is now complete, enabling residents and commuters, present and future, to avoid Zone One altogether should they not be needing to access Central London but the Piccadilly Line will still have the same volume of traffic as it serves Heathrow Airport.
The PTALs are based on findings between 8.00-9.00am, not the extended period 7.15am-9.30am when there is acute pressure on the three east bound trains, and so does not give a true representation of underground usage during morning rush hour.
These proposals do not reflect the increased permeability of the site, the projected 15,600 residential and 7,000 workers on the site, and the 7,000 new homes from the developments between Cromwell Road and High Street Kensington, whose residents will want to use this Zone 1/2 station.
With the present Exhibition Centre activity, there are additional peaks at the tube station, which are irritating but temporary, but with the removal of the Exhibition Centre the permanent population will be using the station on a daily basis and could increase the station to levels, which travellers already find dangerous.
There is concern that the increased traveller growth from the developments, and the underlying increase of population on the tube will cause problems further along the tube network.
The assessment provided is not recognisable as being a true reflection of the reality of existing day-to-day travellers.
Air pollution is a serious issue, it is estimated to hasten the deaths of 4,000 Londoners each year and London is under threat of prosecution for failing to meet its legal obligations to reduce levels of air pollution. The Mayor has managed to wriggle out of this so far, but we must do something about it.
The data from the Earl’s Court Road monitoring station, which can be found at http://www.londonair.org.uk/LondonAir/Default.aspx
The following data are from the Earl’s Court monitoring station for 2011, which is obviously the last complete year for which data are available. I have also looked at this year’s data so far.
1. Particles (PM10 are fine particles, present in high quantities in diesel exhaust). There are two limits here, firstly the annual average must be less than 40 mg m–3, and in 2011 it was in fact 33.3 mg m–3. So far this year we are averaging 37 mg m–3, but we should be careful because there are seasonal fluctuations. There is a second more complicated limit to do with “bad days” when the daily average exceeds 50 mg m–3. The EU directive permits a maximum of 35 of these “bad days”, and so Earl’s Court does not comply with EU law in this respect. (I believe that in London as a whole there were 57 such days). PM10 are breathed in and stick in the lung, and may lead to various forms of cancer and other lung disease.
2. Nitrogen dioxide. This is a gas, produced by burning fossil fuels. In London a large majority comes from traffic exhaust (perhaps 80%). Again there are two limits. Firstly the annual average must be less than 40 mg m–3, in fact the 2011 average was 101.4 mg m–3, more than double the EU limit, and so far this year’s average is more or less the same. Secondly, the average is measured every hour, and the hourly average is permitted to exceed 200 mg m–3 no more than 18 times in a year, in fact this hourly limit was exceeded 395 times, and this year so far 253 times, These measurements are grossly outside acceptable parameters, and affects our health. “The main effect of breathing in raised levels of nitrogen dioxide is the increased likelihood of respiratory problems. Nitrogen dioxide inflames the lining of the lungs, and it can reduce immunity to lung infections. This can cause problems such as wheezing, coughing, colds, flu and bronchitis. Increased levels of nitrogen dioxide can have significant impacts on people with asthma because it can cause more frequent and more intense attacks. Children with asthma and older people with heart disease are most at risk.” (Source Australian Government website)
3. Ozone. This is not measured at the Earl’s Court Road monitoring station, however, since ozone is formed from the reaction of nitrogen oxides with organic substances in the presence of sunlight, and the level of nitrogen oxides is very high, I would be astonished if the ozone levels were not also very high.
There is also an EU directive on total nitrogen oxides for the protection of vegetation and ecosystems. This is an annual mean of no more than 30 mg m–3, in Earl’s Court in 2011 it was 282 mg m–3, I don’t know if this limit applies to cities, but it has been exceeded by a factor of over 9. (NG)
In the Air Pollution in London (issues paper) published earlier this week, it indentified that Kensington and Chelsea is one of the most polluted Boroughs in London, and of the roads within the Borough, the roads generating the most pollution either go through Earl’s Court or border it at the northern edge of the ward boundary.
‘The percentage of deaths attributable to man-made airborne particles was highest in the City of London (9%), Westminster (8.3%), Kensington and Chelsea (8.3%).’
There must be some consideration that an already polluted area will become more polluted not only during the construction phase but also on completion and any reduction based on cleaner cars must be considered to be an assumption.
There is also the issue of the nuclear train that will be going under the proposed development, which has not featured in any studies, reports or assessments.
Effects on residents
The cumulative effect on all residents over the length of the project cannot be considered to be ‘minor adverse’, as repeated throughout the submission, with sustained noise, dust, dirt and, particularly for residents in Philbeach Gardens, with the potential for night-time working over a 20-year period.
There are pre-existing ‘vibration’ problems with repetitive motions on the present site, which occurs when there are pop concerts and have a ‘seismic’ impact on the Mansion blocks due to the buildings resonance. At present Kensington and Nevern Mansions are outside of any Party Wall agreement due to their location but there could be structure damage to these properties.
With the increased volume of heavy works traffic, consideration should have be given to environmental improvements within homes along Warwick Road to protect them from the increased noise, pollution and dirt, but being immediately outside the SPD defined area were not included.
‘Over the past year or so, I had become encouraged by provisions in the SPD that seemed to protect our interests and reflect Policy CL 5. The supporting paper on the Edges Studies for the SPD, at paragraph E 13 states:
"The private rear gardens of the existing terrace must not be exposed to public or semi-public space, and, because of the change in levels, any new development must be set back from the immediate boundary, and be of limited height, to avoid the new development being overbearing on existing dwellings"
The site section plan through 13 Philbeach Gardens, in the application documentation, shows the new building in plot WV 02 to be taller than the existing building by 1.7 metres and the rear “garden” to be about 1/5th of the depth of gardens of existing properties. The whole new terrace of townhouses will curve around the back of the Philbeach Gardens properties and will create a strong impression of enclosure and overbearing, contrary to the SPD.
The building line facing Philbeach Gardens at the southern end will be well forward of the existing EC1 building. I understand the reason for this is that the new WV 02 terrace is to be built with basements and it has to be built forward to clear the Underground tunnels. Wouldn't a less ambitious design, without basements to enable WV 02 to be built further back from Philbeach Gardens, or one story less in height, as the DRP ask, "meet the objectives for regeneration and improved connectivity".
The new terrace, as it curves around the back of Philbeach Gardens, three storeys above the existing roadway and close to the boundary, will be overbearing and create a strong sense of enclosure. This is contrary to the guidance in the SPD. Furthermore, in Section 4 of the SPD a key objective is stated to be to: "Ensure that new buildings on the edges of the OA are sensitively integrated into and enhance the existing context".
Policy CL 5 of the Core Strategy states that (I paraphrase): “The Council will require new buildings to achieve high standards of amenity. To deliver this the Council will:
• require reasonable visual privacy for occupants of nearby buildings; and
• require that there is no harmful increase in the sense of enclosure to existing buildings and spaces”.
The officers’ report for the planning meeting states: "it is considered that there would be no material loss of privacy to occupiers of properties in Philbeach Gardens as a result of the proposed buildings in plot WV02". And: it is considered that the proposal "would not result in any increase in sense of enclosure to occupiers of these properties which would cause a material loss of amenity".
These are both subjective judgements and I disagree. A less ambitious plan for WV02, lower or further back or (ideally) both, would remove most, if not all, of these amenity issues.
There has been no independent assessment of the loss of amenity for the residents of Philbeach Gardens and Eardley Crescent. Despite requests for the developer to provide detailed plans indicating the height, proximity of the terraces and the impact on their gardens, this was not supplied, or supplied in different formats which made it hard for residents to understand, some came without measurements, or the measurements were not accurate. (KC)’
There are over 50 houses in Philbeach Gardens and they only provided 12 cross-section drawings, which is not representative of the topography of the site.
‘The total development area is divided between the two boroughs LBHF and RBKC and it seems that LBHF, who have about four-fifths of the area, appear to care not at all for the quality of the built environment. As a result it is only the S106 agreements, which can help to deliver many vital aspects of these plans.
Taking the RBKC bit on its own the area of gardens and the share of the lost river park, do seem to end with a reasonable density in that part. However taking both parts of the site together, there is insufficient open green space.
I have not added up all the little bits and detailed plans are not yet available for the LBHF area but I consider the Design Review Panel was correct in saying it was too dense. I not seen any area the equivalent of the games area in Holland Park, which is needed for the population planned. Alison Flight said the ‘Lost River’ Park was large enough, but much of it is too narrow and the only pictures we have seen of the northern end do not indicate any arrangements for adult or teenage organised games. If they were put there, there would be no area suitable for picnicking or younger children to run about.
Although I expect the developers will provide play space for younger children to meet the Mayor’s standards it is also very important that there is provision for older children and adults to have reasonable access to green spaces.
Research is showing that even if residents cannot go into a green space (as happens with many of our garden squares which have limited access) just being able to see growing green has substantial health benefits. Green roofs are good from the environmental point of view but have limited access and visibility. Green walls are unproven as yet and may present unintended maintenance problems. Neither is a substitute for gardens at ground level.
For the RBKC site commercial buildings seemed to be mandated to be built to a high standard but residential building only to level 4—my memory is that this expires within two years and Level 6 will be required thereafter. Just because they might get done before a deadline is not reason for anything but the highest level possible.
Finally it is important to monitor all the service systems proposed, use of rainwater to flush loos, efficient power supply, waste collection, drainage etc. Systems which are the subject of current research, such as on site safe incineration to provide heat may well be available before this giant development is completed, let alone declared obsolete, so it essential that flexibility is included in the plans. (HT 9.12.12.)’
The amenity of the ‘Lost River’ park is questionable given the fact that its level will have to be raised the adjacent land in order to accommodate the clearances need for Network Rail’s future operational needs to handle European Freight heights — hence it will be more like a Long Barrow rather than a linear park. (NW)
Contrary to the Mayor’s London Plan, 95% of the Opportunity Area will be priced beyond the reach of average Londoners. The ‘Evening Standard’ suggests that these units will be bought by overseas investors and will be left unoccupied, to the detriment to existing communities and the Council rather than catering for the London-wide urgent need for homes.
As this is an interdependent site, the provision of Affordable Intermediate housing at only 3% on a floor space basis in the RBKC site is lamentable. No additional housing for Key workers, Older People or shared ownership schemes that are affordable for first time buyers. The lack of affordable housing within the Opportunity Area was considered a breach of the Mayor’s London Plan and additionally was criticised in the Design Review Panel report.
Overall, with the 7,600 units proposed there will only be 760 Affordable Housing Units and 760 Affordable Intermediate Housing, and the latter will still be beyond the reach of the average worker, the balance, 6080, will be high-end accommodation with the Town Houses being quoted at starting at £3.9m.
Child Density, Education and Play space
There will be a Primary School on site which is going to be operated by West London Free School Academy Trust, which is being advertised as opening in 2014, but it had been raised in Consultation that there would be a shortfall of Secondary school places in both LBHF and RBKC, and this was going to be covered by a payment in lieu.
The allocation of play space will leave mothers with different age ranged children having to go to different locations, and the Lost River park is not wide enough to be able to play more than 5-aside Football.
The Brompton Cemetery: This is a Grade 1 listed site
The West London and Westminster Cemetery Company, as it was known, was established in 1836 and then opened in 1840 to the design of Benjamin Baud. Regarded as one of the finest Victorian Metropolitan cemeteries in the country, it has a formal layout with a central avenue leading to a chapel based on St Peter's Basilica in Rome.
St Cuthbert with St Matthias Church, Philbeach Gardens, Grade 2*
The architect Hugh Roumieu Gough built the church in 1884-7. The exterior is in red and black brick. The characteristic green copper roof was added in 1946 following severe bomb damage to the original slate roof. The project to replace the roof with the original Green Westmorland slate was backed by a major grant from the English Heritage Lottery Churches Fund.
The church is remarkable for its interior, which is very ornate in the Arts and Crafts style of the late Victorian and Edwardian period.
The Arts and Crafts designer Bainbridge Reynolds was a member of the congregation, and there are many fine examples of his work in the Church, notably the extraordinary lectern, which mixes virtually every kind of metalwork imaginable, and was famously described by John Betjeman as 'neo-Viking'.
The findings of the Design Review Panel
These were disregarded by the Major Planning Committee, the Planning Officer, informed me that their report could not be taken into consideration as they came into the game too late in the day and that their report and dealt with the cluster of tall buildings in LBHF, and did not deal with RBKC. These buildings will clutter the skyline overlooking the Brompton Cemetery, which has a number of listed buildings and remains one of the only open skylines in the area. http://www.rbkc.gov.uk/planningandconservation/planningapplications/earlscourtapplication.aspx
Although an Opportunity Area, and therefore should have been considered as a whole, no plans in the RBKC proposals demonstrated the impact of these buildings on the skyline. There were a series of photographs to demonstrate the areas that would be ‘filled in’ but were for the replacement of the Exhibition Centre and not the clutter of 28-storey buildings in LBHF.
This is an issue for all the residents immediately affected by the development, in both LBHF and RBKC. The development as proposed is a gross case of Overdevelopment without serving the needs of the existing residents, and it is hoped that you will ask Mr Pickles to call in these applications.
TOGETHER WE CAN STILL SAVE EARL’S COURT!