The resistance to the Academy Project

Below are copies of detailed formal submissions made in response or opposition to the Kensington Academy Planning Application which was approved in September 2012. All of these submissions were highly critical of the planning application:

  • The Grenfell Action Group
  • Planning Aid for London
  • The Kensington Society
  • The Notting Barns Ward Councillors

gag BANNER

An appeal to the Secretary Of State by The Grenfell Action Group requesting a call-in of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Planning Decision PP/12/01833 for independent scrutiny.

30th October 2012

Dear Secretary Of State,

The paper which accompanies this letter was submitted to the Chair of the Major Planning Development Committee of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea on 21st September, a few days before the Kensington Academy and Leisure Centre planning application PP/12/01833 was scheduled for decision by the Committee. It identified and highlighted a profusion of errors, inconsistencies and false or misleading statements with which the planning application was strewn, and appealed to the Committee to refuse planning permission on grounds that the application was unsafe and unsound. To our horror the MPDC ignored the information we had provided and granted planning permission regardless.

We are now appealing to you, as Secretary Of State for Communities and Local Government, to call–in the decision of the MPDC, because we believe the committee was negligent, failed to exercise due diligence, and did not subject the planning application to the rigorous scrutiny it warranted, despite clear and voluminous information we had provided which highlighted the need for such scrutiny.  We believe that neither the Local Planning Authority nor the MPDC have acted with proper regard in assessing this flagship major development, which was promoted and championed by the Royal Borough itself, and we believe that, under such circumstances, it is incumbent on the Secretary Of State to call the decision in for proper independent scrutiny.

Our initial and most fundamental reason for opposing the KALC development was the harm it would inevitably cause to the local community, through the inappropriate over-development of a wholly unsuitable site and the loss of our precious open/green space and the residential amenity integral to that space. We believe that the Council repeatedly misrepresented the nature, extent, and protected status of this open space (known locally as Lancaster Green) because it could not otherwise fully justify the destruction of this space. We believe that the alarming inconsistency of the open space and building footprint figures (presented in the accompanying paper) are indirect evidence of this.

However, we are now in a position, which we were not earlier, to elucidate the manner in which bogus terminology was introduced, late in the process, by officers in the Local Planning Authority (ie in the Committee Report published by the LPA on 18th September) with the aim of furthering the Applicant’s attempt at obfuscation of the character, extent and protected status of the open space in question. This process of obfuscation involved misrepresentation of the Secretary of State’s Planning Policy Guidance for Open Space Sport and Recreation (PPG 17), and of the open space policies in both the RBKC Core Strategy and the London Plan, as well as misrepresentation of the proposed development as compliant with the Secretary of State’s Guidance, and the open space policies in both the Core Strategy and London Plan. We maintain that the proposed development significantly breaches the above policies and planning policy guidance.

We assert that the Local Planning Authority colluded with the Applicant in falsely claiming that the proposed development would comply with the Secretray of State’s Planning Policy Guidance for Open Space Sport and Recreation (PPG 17). According to sections10 and 11 of that guidance, open space that has particular value to a local community should be respected and protected by the local authority, and development should not be allowed unless an assessment of the open space has clearly shown it to be surplus to requirements. The Lancaster Green open space was neither respected nor protected in this instance, and nor was an assessment of its value conducted throughout the several years of planning for the project, despite our repeated claims that it was indispensable to the local community, as residential amenity, and for sport and recreation. We also maintain, as we have done all along, that if such an assessment had been conducted it could not reasonably have concluded that the open space was in any way surplus to requirements. We therefore assert that the proposed development deliberately and cynically disregarded the Secretary of State’s Planning Policy Guidance for Open Space Sport and Recreation.

The remainder of this letter will be concerned with an analysis and elucidation of some of the bogus terminology, referred to above, which was introduced in the Committee Report by officers of the Local Planning Authority.

Lancaster Green is listed on the Council’s website as a public park, and the site is marked with an official council signpost bearing the Council’s insignia and the bye-laws that apply to parks in the Royal Borough. Its status as a park is further acknowledged in the Design & Access Statement, submitted as part of the planning application, which says on page 4:

“The site includes the existing Kensington Leisure Centre, two car parks, three multi-use pitches, a children’s playground and …a public park with many large established trees”.

Lancaster West Estate was built in the early 1970’s following a major slum clearance programme in the Notting Barns area. The Lancaster Green open space was created at that time as residential amenity space for residents of the newly built Grenfell Tower, who had no other external amenity space, and whose homes had no balconies.  The Design & Access Statement acknowledges the origins of Lancaster Green on page 4 where it says;

“The clearance of Blechyden Mews and Kensington Public Baths on Silchester Road permitted the provision of open green space, multiuse pitches, and a public car park…..Gardens originally dedicated to Grenfell Tower were opened up to become generally accessible to the public”.

Until recently local residents believed, and were entitled to believe, that the Lancaster Green open space was protected by the Council because of its vital function as both residential amenity and public open space, and believed that its designation by the Council as a public park was a guarantee of that protection.

We believe that the Committee Report, authored by the Executive Director for Planning and Borough Development, is a shameless attempt to unpick and rewrite this history so that it no longer serves as an impediment to the proposed development. It does so partly by introducing a new descriptive terminology intended to obfuscate the true character of the open space, and its historical origins, and thereby to deny the protection to which it should rightfully be entitled.

The Committee Report introduced a number of new concepts that had not previously appeared in the Planning Application, or in the Supplementary Planning Document. Prominent among these were notions of “useable” versus “unuseable” space, “pocket parks”, “protected open space”, and “formal open space”.

Notwithstanding the established history and origins of the site, on page 52 of the Committee Report it is claimed that the KALC site is not “public open space”, implying that it is not therefore entitled to protection under the Core Strategy Policy CR5 which protects the borough’s public open spaces. Similarly, on page 87 it is claimed that the green space on the site is not “protected open space”, a term borrowed from the London Plan.

The first of these claims, that the site is not “public open space”, appears to have been arrived at by refusing to consider the open space as a single entity, insisting instead on describing it as a series of unrelated smaller fragments, most of which it then dismisses as “unuseable”, and therefore unworthy of recognition or protection. The few fragments it arbitrarily considers to be “useable” it then goes on to re-designate as “formal open space”. Thus page 87 of the Committee Report contains the following passage:

“Policy 7.18 of the London Plan advises Local Planning Authorities to resist the loss of protected open space. To begin with the area of green space on the site is not protected open space.  The majority of the green space on the site forms soft boundary treatments. There are some areas of useable open space that could be classified as pocket parks. The proposal looks to improve these pocket park areas, by landscaping them and increasing the size to create more useable space. It is acknowledged that there is a loss of public realm overall from the site which includes the unuseable boundary treatments as discussed above. The proposals therefore do not disregard the guidance.”

The claim that the Lancaster Green area is not “protected open space”, is unsustainable. The terminology is borrowed from the London Plan but does not appear anywhere in the Core Strategy. Instead the Core Strategy contains a policy which protects all parks and open spaces generically. This policy is clearly applicable to the Lancaster Green open space. Policy CR 5 of the RBKC Core Strategy states that:

“The Council will protect, enhance and make the most of existing parks, gardens and open spaces, and require new high quality outdoor spaces to be provided.  To deliver this the Council will resist the loss of existing Metropolitan Open Land, public open space etc..”

While it is true that Lancaster Green is not specifically designated in the Core Strategy as “protected open space”, it is equally true that no other parks or open spaces are so designated, with the exception of a small few Metropolitan Open Lands which are specifically named. As already stated the term “protected open space” is simply not used in the Core Strategy. The protection instead resides in Policy CR 5 such as it is, and the attempt in the Committee Report to claim that Lancaster Green is not “protected open space”, as defined by the London Plan, is therefore spurious and appears to be no more than an ill-conceived attempt to exploit a minor semantic difference between the London Plan and the Core Strategy, that really has no genuine implication in this context.

Another key concept introduced for the first time in the Committee Report is that of “formal open space”. This term appears nowhere in either the Core Strategy or the London Plan, and therefore has no legal standing that we are aware of. Furthermore, as has already been stated, it is entirely absent from all previous discourse on the KALC proposals and does not appear anywhere in the Planning Application, or in the Supplementary Planning Document. Nonetheless, the Committee Report introduces this term to falsely claim compliance with the open space policies in both the Core Strategy and the London Plan. Page 101 of the report states;

“Whilst it is accepted that there is a loss of public realm across the site….it is considered that there would be no loss of formal open space in accordance with policy CR5 of the CS, policy 7.18 of the London Plan, and paragraph 4.2.1(objective 3) of the SPD.”

This statement is deliberately misleading in two respects. Firstly, it is based on a subjective, arbitrary and unreasonable designation of what qualifies as “formal open space” and what does not. This is underpinned by an equally flawed, subjective and arbitrary judgement of “useable” versus “unuseable” space. Large areas of open space on the site are thus dismissed as though they have no relevance and no value. It is interesting to note in this respect that a small private formal garden for Grenfell Tower residents – arguably the only truly formal space on the site – is condemned to destruction but, perversely, is not even recognised as “formal open space” in the report.

However, the most significant objection we would raise to this statement is already present in our preceding paragraph. The concept of “formal open space” simply does not appear in either the Core Strategy or the London Plan. To argue therefore that preserving this so-called “formal open space”, while destroying all other open space, somehow complies with the open space policies in the Core Strategy and the London Plan, is completely absurd and is a cynical misrepresentation of those policies, which are designed to protect generic “open space”, and make no reference to “formal open space”.

In our view the introduction and deliberate misuse of these problematic new concepts in the Committee Report raises serious questions about the integrity and impartiality of the Local Planning Authority with regard to this planning application. Local residents, who are vehemently opposed to this development because of the damage it will do to their neighbourhood, and to their quality-of-life, are entitled to expect the Local Planning Authority, acting in a quasi-judicial capacity, to be scrupulously impartial and even-handed when assessing whether the proposals in the Planning Application comply with policy, and whether the interests of the local community will be properly protected if the plans are approved. Instead we have seen, in the Committee Report, clear evidence that the Local Planning Authority has connived at concocting spurious arguments, aimed at furthering the ambitions of the Applicant, to the clear detriment of the local community. This is completely improper and cannot be acceptable.

When we first encountered the profusion of errors, inconsistencies and false  statements with which the Planning Application was strewn, we suspected that the negligence of the Local Planning Authority in failing to confront these flaws might be evidence of collusion with the Applicant. Now that we have had time to study the Committee Report, we are completely convinced that officers in the Local Planning Authority, who authored this report, actively colluded with the deceitful statements of the Applicant, in a partisan and improper manner that was anything but impartial and even-handed. We believe that the analysis of the Committee Report that we have presented here is incontrovertible proof of this. We appeal to you, as Secretary Of State, to call-in the decision of the MPDC so that it can be subjected to fair and impartial scrutiny.

We would wish particularly to direct the Secretary Of State’s attention to our letter of objection (appended here) to the Chair of the MPDC, detailing the multiple errors, inconsistencies and false statements we found in the Planning Application, expressing our conviction that the planning application was unsafe and unsound, and expressing our suspicions that the Local Planning Authority had colluded with the Applicant.

Furthermore, we believe that, in addition to the collusion of the Local Planning Authority, members of the Major Planning Development Committee also behaved improperly in adopting an unduly lax and permissive attitude to the application. We believe that the response of the Committee to our letter of objection was unacceptably dismissive, as it was to the roughly 300 other letters of objection that the Planning Application attracted. We would ask the Secretary Of State to study carefully our letter of objection, dated 21st September 2012, because we believe that the multiple flaws it identifies offered more than sufficient reason to withold planning permission, but was contemptuously ignored by the Committee.

In closing we would wish also to remind the Secretary Of State of the response of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea to the Mayor of London’s consultation on the Open Space Strategy for the London Plan, which was conducted in the winter of 2009. The RBKC response stated;

“Unlike, most other London Boroughs we do not have any spare capacity for open space to be released to other uses. Open space that has existing or potential value is protected from inappropriate development by Policy LR8 of the adopted Unitary Development Plan, which states that:

To resist the loss of existing open space which meets leisure and recreation needs.

This policy has been strengthened in the Publication Core Strategy to read:

The Council will protect, enhance and make the most of existing parks, gardens and open spaces, and require new high quality spaces to be provided.

We are simply not in a position, and nor would it be appropriate, to release open space for other uses which meets the criteria listed above. In those very limited circumstances where open space needs to be re-configured, such as estate re-development, we would expect open space to be provided of an equivalent or better size and quality.”

These are hollow words when considered from our current perspective at Lancaster West. In our view the misrepresentations, manipulations and distortions of the Core Strategy and London Plan policies, which we discovered in the Committee Report, and have articulated in this paper, are an affront to these words, an affront to the RBKC policy on parks and open spaces, an affront to the Mayor of London’s open space policy, and an affront to the Secretary Of State’s Planning Policy Guidance for Open Space Sport and Recreation. They are also an affront to the residents of Lancaster West Estate for whom we speak. We appeal once again to the Mayor to call the decision in for independent scrutiny.

Yours respectfully,

Francis O’Connor
pp Grenfell Action Group

Planning  Application PP/12/01833
Kensington Academy And Leisure Centre

Dear Councillor Buxton,

I am aware that it is normal to address objections to the planning officer responsible. However under present circumstances we prefer to address these late objections to you, as Chairperson of the Major Planning Development Committee, because we have no confidence in the power or willingness of the officers concerned to respond meaningfully to the objections raised.

You may already be aware that, in addition to the original application, comprising 105 documents submitted on 22nd June 2012, an additional 103 revision documents were subsequently submitted on 10th August, 17th August, and 22nd August respectively.

At that time the pre-decision consultation was still ongoing but, to the best of our knowledge, none of the consultees was informed of the publication of the additional 103 documents, and nor was a guide made available that identified the changes in the revision documents and cross-referenced them to the original documents.  As a consequence of this failure we only became aware of the existence of the 103 revision documents at the end of August, and then only through the vigilance of a single local resident, who conducted a search following receipt of a revised site notice listing just two minor changes, which was sent by post to local residents at the August bank-holiday weekend.

Under the circumstances, and given the complexity of the application, it has proved all but impossible for the consultees to identify and respond to all the changes in the revision documents. In our view the failure of the applicant to inform consultees in a timely fashion of the existence of the revision documents, and the failure to provide a cross-referenced guide to aid consultees in identifying the significance of any changes in the revised application, was highly irresponsible.

In our view the consultation was therefore fatally flawed and the application is unsafe and unsound.

Impact Of The Development On The Local Community

Our first and most serious objection arises from the impact that the development will have on the resident community through loss of residential amenity, loss of open space, loss of green space in particular, and the accompanying over-development of the site.  Residential amenity in the Grenfell Tower area will be destroyed completely, and the impact of this loss of amenity on local residents, especially the families living in Grenfell Tower, who have no other amenity space, will be profound and intolerable.  On this point alone we make the strongest of objections and appeal to the Major Planning Development Committee to refuse planning permission.

The planners have made much in their pre-publicity, and in the planning application, of alleged improvements that are proposed for the Lancaster Green area, but in our view what they are proposing in the name of ‘improvement’ will be such a radical transformation of the open space that it wll change utterly the appearance, character, and usage of the space in ways that will completely alienate the resident community, and will deny them the uses of the open space to which they have long been accustomed, and of which they have a vital and irreplaceable need.  The open space, known locally as Lancaster Green, will no longer belong to or serve the local community. It will belong instead to the Academy and Leisure Centre complex and will primarily serve the interests and needs of the users of these institutions, to the exclusion and great detriment of the local community.

We urge the Committee to refuse planning permission on grounds of the unacceptable impact this development will have on residential amenity in the Lancaster Green area to the great detriment of the local resident community.

The impact of the development on the local community has been addressed in detail in other submissions to the Committee, notably by Planning Aid For London, who were commissioned to speak on behalf of the local community, by our local ward councillors, and by The Kensington Society. We fully endorse the comments and objections contained in those submissions. The intention of the present submission, therefore, is not to repeat what has already been said in those documents, but to identify other major flaws in the planning application which have come to our attention more recently, and which, in our view, render the planning application unsafe, unsound and grossly misleading.

Errors, Inconsistencies, And False And Misleading Statements

Our recent examination of the planning application documents has revealed them to be strewn with errors, inaccuracies and inconsistencies, and with false and misleading statements. While some of the errors and inconsistencies may be relatively minor, others clearly are not, and we have been able to identify a number that we regard as very serious.

We are also strongly of the opinion that some of the more serious false and misleading statements are deliberately intended to mislead, and we strongly protest against these.  In our opinion a planning application that seeks deliberately to mislead the public, and the members of the planning committee, should not be approved, and we urge the Committee to refuse planning permission on these grounds

The remainder of this submission will be concerned with presenting a selection of these erroneous and misleading statements, and exploring their implications.

Outdoor School Sports Facilities and Building Bulletin 98 Recommendations

According to page 17 of the Design & Access statement ;

“The size of the proposed Academy has been determined from government BB98 guidelines”

this statement is further elaborated on page 12 of  the Revision Planning Statement which claims;

“The Academy has been designed to meet the necessary design standards (e.g. BB99) for the construction of new schools of this nature. This includes the provision of sports facilities.” (NB reference to BB99 is presumably a typographical error)

Both of these statements are manifestly false and the Applicant knows them to be false.  The Council’s planners are fully aware that BB98 recommendations require the provision of extensive outdoor sports areas suitable for team games such as football, hockey, athletics or cricket. The proposed academy is devoid of such provision because the site is far too small. Furthermore the Council were forewarned that the site would not satisfy BB98 recommendations in their own Latimer Area Masterplanning Study by Urban Initiatives in 2009, and the KALC Feasibility Study by McAslans in 2010. To claim now that the planning application satisfies BB98 recommendations can only be a cynical attempt to deceive.

We strongly object to the building of the new academy on a site that is too small to accommodate the outdoor sports facilities which a school of this type should have, and we object even more strongly to the use of deceitful statements in this respect in the planning application. We ask for planning permission to be refused on these grounds.

Destruction of Trees

The fate of the many trees that adorn the Lancaster Green site has been a source of ongoing concern to the local community, and reassurances were offered by the planners to the KALC community forum that trees would be protected wherever possible.The detail of which trees will be destroyed and which retained is provided in the planning application via two colour-coded drawings (an originl and a revised version of the same drawing). According to the revised drawing 66 healthy trees will be destroyed, 42 will be retained, and 86 new trees will be planted. However some of this information is contradicted in the Revision Clarification Report which claims that only 63 healthy trees will be destroyed and only 75 new trees will be planted. We are left wondering which is the true figure, and indeed if either of these figures can be trusted. This kind of error, with statements made in one document contradicted in another, or sometimes in the same document, is typical of the general sloppiness of the planning application, and suggests that no statement made in the application can be trusted for accuracy, or indeed for veracity.

These errors are not the only problem with the tree retention proposals. On close inspection of the drawings it becomes obvious that most of the trees marked for retention are street trees which are outside the site boundary, whereas nearly all the trees marked for destruction are located centrally, at the heart of the site. We can think of no other explanation for this discrepancy other than that it represents a deliberate and cynical attempt by the Applicant to mislead by creating a false impression suggesting a near equivalence between the number of condemned trees and the number of trees to be retained.

Since beginning the writing of this submission we have received new information with regard to the numbers of trees marked for destruction. According to the Committee Report, published on 18th September, 78 trees will be destroyed, 42  will be retained, and 86 new trees will be planted. This accords with the numbers shown in the original planning application drawing, but contradicts the revised version of the same map published on 10th August. We are forced to ask, therefore, what was the point of the revised map if the Committee Report contradicts it and reiterates the original figures? Which figures should we accept as correct? Are any of these figures correct? In our view this is evidence of the chaotic and haphazard nature of the planning application, indicating that it is unsafe and unsound, and should be rejected by the MPDC.

We strongly object to the provision of this deliberately false and misleading information in the planning application. In our view the Committee cannot reasonably be expected to make a correct decision when provided with false and misleading information, and we urge the Committee to reject the application on these grounds.

Open Space And Public Realm

The planning application provides a bewildering array of figures relating to the alleged loss or retention of open space, which render it virtually impossible to make any reasoned judgement, based on the Applicants figures, of how much open space or public realm exists currently, of how much will survive after development, and in what form ie whether soft or hard landscape etc.

According to the Design & Access Statement in the initial application the total building footprint will be 11326m2 . This is then contradicted by Revision Drawing 911253 which states a total building footprint of only 9931m2, and this is followed by a later revision (sent to Cllr Blakeman on 17th September) stating a total building footprint of 10008m2. The Committee Report then produces yet more figures, this time stating a total building footprint of 9867m2 (or 10666m2 if one includes the new residential block in the calculation). The net outcome of all these manipulations is a difference of at least 1000m2 between the earlier estimates, and the later revised estimates. This is a significant difference that demands explanation..

Given that there is no evidence in the planning application, and no changes in any of the drawings, to indicate that any of the proposed buildings have actually been reduced in size, one is forced to question why these figures have been revised downwards, and which figures are more likely to be correct, if indeed any can be assumed to be correct. It is noteworthy that the higher estimates are more consistent with the estimates used in both the Latimer Masterplan of 2009 and the McAslan Feasibility Study of 2010, although they are more conservative than McAslan which estimates a total building footprint above 12,000 m2. We are entitled to assume, therefore, that the higher estimates are more likely to be correct. We are also entitled to inquire, and as we are unlikely at this stage to receive any answers, we believe we are entitled to speculate, as to the possible reasons for the downward revisions.

We would suggest that the inaccuracy of the revised figures is evidence either of incompetence on the part of the Applicant and/or his consultants, or or of sharp practice by the Applicant and/or his consultants.  Either explanation would amount to an indictment of the planning application. We might further ask, therefore, what reason could there be for sharp practice in this context and what benefit might accrue to the Applicant  from such trickery?

The answer to this is of course very simple – the more the building footprints are understated the more scope there is to overstate the open space and public realm figures, and as these have been a source of great dispute and contention between the Council and the local community, and have served as a rallying point for local opposition to the KALC proposals, we would have no difficulty in suspecting the Applicant of such sharp practice. In our view the deliberate understatement of the building footprint estimates is more likely to be sharp practice than incompetence.

Another of the tricks used has been to change the definition of the site so as to include in newer drawings areas that were formerly outside the site boundary, or should not reasonably be considered as public realm in the context of the site in question – for example the Grenfell Tower service yard, the service yard of the new academy, and the private courtyard of the new residential complex.  All of these appear to have been included in the newer estimates of the open space that will result from the development. This enables the Applicant, by sleight of hand, to calculate existing open space based on the smaller original site boundary while calculating the open space remaining after development based on an extended site boundary, thus creating a false impression that less open or green space will be lost to development than is true in reality.

The figures quoted for Open Space and Public Realm in the various documents and drawings are even more arbitrary and bewildering in their meanderings and permutations than those quoted for the building footprints. We present below an assortment of Soft Landscape and Public Realm figures drawn from a number of different documents within the planning application. We do not ask the reader to attempt any logical analysis of these – we don’t believe they are amenable to such analysis. We merely offer them as witness to the arbitrary and capricious nature of the documents and invite the reader to simply note the almost total absence of consistency between the various figures quoted. We ask the reader to note also that there is no question of explaining this inconsistency as a logical progression from earlier iterations to more refined later revisions, as the revisions are as mutually contradictory and inconsistent as the earlier iterations they are intended to replace.

Open Space Assessment (in the initial application)

P4 – The new layout retains the same level of overall public realm provision i.e 11500m2. There is an overall reduction in green space of 1242m2 but this is more than offset by an increase in the areas of hard paving.

Design & Access Statement (in the initial application)

P20 –  existing site has 11509m2  public realm increasing to 11425m2 after development  – 5268m2 of soft landscape reducing to 3655m2 after development

P50 – existing site contains approximately 11500m2 of Public Realm,
The new layout retains the same level of overall public realm ie 11500m2

P51 –  existing site 11684m2 public realm increasing to 12046m2 after development – soft landscape 5268m2 reducing to 4026m2 after development

Revision Drawing 911253  –  existing site has 18677m2 public realm decreasing  to 13779m2 after development – soft landscape 5268m2 increasing to 5707m2 after development

Revision Drawing 341 Public Realm Areas rev F  –  existing site has 12155m2 public realm decreasing  to 11339m2 after development – soft landscape 5444m2 reducing to 4171m2 after development

(Please note that the drawing above was supplied by Mr George in an email to Cllr Blakeman dated 17th September. It was not published online and was not part of the planning application. It’s significance is therefore unclear)

Clarification Report (revision content)

P6  – Since these calculations were prepared the area of soft landscape has been increased by 10% which will further enhance the biodiversity credentials of the scheme.

Committee Report (18th September)

P52 –  existing site 12115m2 public realm decreasing to 11329m2 after development – soft landscape 5444m2 reducing to 4171m2 after development

From all of the above we conclude that the proposals in relation to Open Space and Public Realm are so ambiguous, unclear, inconsistent and mutually contradictory as to render it impossible to form a clear understanding of what is proposed in spatial terms. We cannot tell from the documents what the extent of the building footprints will be, how much public realm will be created or lost, how much of what remains will be green-space and how much will be hard-surface. We also conclude that the likely explanation for the chaos and confusion in the figures provided is that they result partly from incompetence and are partly deliberate and cynical, the intention being, we assume, to obfuscate and camouflage the true intentions of the Applicant.

We therefore strongly object to the deceitfullness apparent in the application documents, and to the confusion, aritrariness, and error-strewn analyses of open space and public realm that have been supplied by the Applicant.  We urge the Committee to refuse planning permission on these grounds, or at least until the Applicant produces credible and competent assessments of the disposition of the various spaces that comprise the site both before and after the proposed development.

The Committee Report published on 18th September introduces a new concept of Formal Open Space (page 52) that has not hitherto appeared in the SPD or the planning application. We are unsure of the implications of the use of this term, but it appears to be an attempt to assert that there is no Public Open Space on the site, hence policy CR 5 of the Core Strategy, which protects public open space, does not apply. Instead the Applicant appears to argue that only the protections offered to Formal Open Space apply to this site, and the Applicant then falsely claims to have increased the quantity of formal open space on site. If we are correct in our reading of this use of new terminology we can only say that we consider it to be more smoke and mirrors and a particularly low and odious attempt  to misuse and misrepresent open space policy in an attempt to deny breaching it.

Unworkable And Inadequate Car Parking Arrangements

A revised site notice sent by post to local residents on the August bank-holiday weekend announced a change in the proposed parking provision to 35 on-site and on-street carparking spaces. This superseded an earlier site notice that proposed a total of 32 carparking spaces.

The first problem with the figures provided for carparking provision is that there is a lack of consistency between documents. The original Transport Assessment, for instance, proposes 25 on-street and 7 disabled bays. This would be consistent with the original site notice, but is contradicted by the Design & Access Statement which proposes only 21 on-street spaces and 7 disabled bays. The 35 carparking spaces proposed in the Revised Site Notice is then contradicted by the Revised Planning Statement which proposes (on page 15) 29 on-street and 7 disabled bays (a total of 36 spaces)

However, these errors and inaccuracies fade into insignificance when compared to the most fundamental parking issue. Because the proposed development nesessitates the loss of the two existing municipal carparks, the planning application proposes the only replacement carparking provision – inadequate provision in our view – on two short stretches of road at Dulford Street and Bomore Road. While the short stretch of Dulford Street, immediately in front of the existing leisure centre, is just about wide enough to accommodate10 additional parking spaces, the adjoining stretch of Bomore Road is certainly not. Bomore Road is only 7 metres wide and already has residents-only parking along one side of it. The planning application requires the provison of 19 additional spaces along the nearside of Bomore Road, but this stretch of road is long enough only for 11 spaces, and is too narrow to provide any additional parking.  It would need to be widened considerably, but there is no proposal in the planning application for any widening, and given the severe constraints of the KALC site, and particularly the site proposed for the residential element of the development, it hardly seems possible that any space can be found to widen Bomore Road.

Since beginning the writing of this submission we have now seen the Committee Report published on 18th September. This last minute report proposes widening Bomore Road, but provides no explanation of how this can be accomplished, and no explanation of why the original planning application failed to identify the narrowness of Bomore Road as a probem. We would suggest that the Applicant failed to realise Bomore Road was too narrow for the proposed parking because the planning application was prepared in haste, and without due care and attention, and that this is further evidence that it is unsafe and unsound, as we have argued throughout this submission.

The Committee Report also appears to announce a change of plan with regard to provision of parking spaces on the adjoining stretch of Dulford Street. Parking spaces will apparently not now be provided at this location, adjacent to the proposed luxury housing being built for private sale, but 15 spaces will instead be dumped on the residents of the nearby Walmer Road, who occupy mostly rented social housing at Foreland House. On the face of it, this appears to be a crass and shameless exercise in class discrimination.

It should be noted also that Walmer Road, like Bomore Road, is too narrow to accommodate extra parking provision. This can only be provided, therefore, either in place of the residents-only parking that already exists at this location, or by widening Walmer Road at the expense of local residents who will lose half of the pavement that fronts Foreland House.

Furthermore, there is no proposal in the planning application to widen Walmer Road, and nor have the residents of Foreland House, nor of Nottingwood House, been given any advance notice of the plan, and have not been consulted about it.

We strongly object to the cavalier and careless attitude of the Applicant with regard to parking provision, and urge the Committee to refuse planning permission for the reasons described above.

Inadequate Coach Parking Arrangements

The proposal for coach parking is based on a flawed assessment of the existing situation. The transport assessments, including the revised transport assessment submitted on 22 August, seriously understate current parking requirements for school coaches visiting the Leisure Centre. The revised Transport Assessment states (on page 2)

“It is understood that the current leisure centre does not have a daily arrival of large coaches, instead, between two and three mini-buses would generally arrive to drop-off leisure centre users before vacating the site. These mini-buses would then return to the site to collect the leisure centre users. The need for long dwell times on-site for coaches and mini-buses is therefore not an essential part of the existing leisure centre’s activity, which, under the new leisure centre proposals this activity will see an increase in mini-bus activity in the order of four to five drop-off and collection movements per day, mostly associated with local schools.”

The reality is that school parties from various local schools visit the existing leisure centre on most days, arriving by coach, and not by minibus as stated in the
assessment, and it is not uncommon to see up to four coaches parked together in the Silchester Road carpark on weekday afternoons. The proposal to provide just two coach parking bays in Silchester Road is therefore entirely inadequate.

The proposal to use the entrance to the north/south route adjacent to the main academy entrance as a coach drop-off point is also flawed. The planners appear not to have understood that the process involved in school parties boarding and/or decanting from coaches generally takes some time, as boarding and decanting have to be carefully organised and heads have to be counted etc. With multiple coaches arriving and departing simultaneously the potential for gridlock at the boarding and drop-off point is therefore very real.

We urge the Committee to refuse planning permission on grounds that the transport assessment was incompetent and the resulting coach parking proposals are inadequate.

The New North/South Road And The Open Spaces Act 1967

The planning application proposes the creation of a new stretch of vehicular road to replace the existing pedestrian route linking Silchester Road to Grenfell Road.  This will bisect the existing Lancaster Green open space. This proposal has been fiercely resisted by many respondents and is particularly disliked by local residents for a number of reasons. However the Applicant has resisted all calls to abandon this proposal and has offered only compromises that fall far short of what is required.

We believe that the provisions of the “Ministry Of Housing And Local Government Provisional Order Confirmation (Greater London Parks And Open Spaces) Act (1967)” apply to this proposal.  Under the provisions of the Act a local authority is empowered to;

“….utilise alienate or replace with other land any part of any open space….for the purpose of the construction alteration or widening of any street”.

The exercise of this right, however, requires the prior consent of the Secretary of State, who is in turn required to conduct a public consultation lasting 28 days.

The applicant appears to be unaware of his responsibilities under the Open Spaces Act 1967 to seek the consent of the Secretary Of State for the creation of the proposed new road through Lancaster Green. We therefore urge the Committee to refuse planning permission, at least until such time as the Applicant’s repsonsibilities under the Act have been discharged.

No District Heating Network

Policy CE1 And Policy CA 4 of the RBKC Core Strategy both require the provision of  a district heating network as part of the KALC development, capable of serving the adjacent Lancaster West Estate.  The required heating network was also featured in the KALC Supplementary Planning Document but was subsequently dropped from the planning application based on the recommendations in a report by Max Fordham (consultants) the “Combined Heat and Power and Heat Network Further Appraisal of Viability”.  Max Fordham’s examined a stock condition and feasibility study of the Lancaster West heating system prepared for the TMO in 2008 by Edward Pearse & Partners, from which they concluded that the Lancaster West pipework and distribution system would be too difficult and too expensive to upgrade as part of the district heat network proposed for the KALC project. They therefore recommended dropping the CCHP element from the project.

The Max Fordham’s report quotes estimates from the earlier Pearse report of the cost of replacing the Lancaster West system with individual combi-boilers in all dwellings. However, the figure quoted – £5.5 million – does not appear anywhere in the Pearse report which estimated the cost of these works at £10.6 million.

Given the costs involved we think it possible, if not likely, that the TMO may have postponed for several years replacing the Lancaster West heating system in the expectation that the problem would be solved by the KALC development. We now fear that quoting such an erroneously low estimate to the MPDC may facilitate a further abdication of the same responsibility by the Council in the equally mistaken belief that the works are affordable by the TMO. The real cost of the works at £10.6 million will be extremely difficult for the TMO to find, unless there is a commitment by the Council to provide additional funding to assist with this.

It is very hard to understand how Max Fordham’s could have got the figures so badly wrong. We can only speculate that the error in quoting a mere £5.5 million, instead of the correct figure of £10.6 million, may have resulted from incompetence on the part of Max Fordham’s, or from the unseemly haste with which the KALC planning application has been rushed through. However, we have suspicions that, like other errors in the planning application, this also may have been deliberate and cynical, and may have been an attempt to facilitate the granting of planning permission by the MPDC, by making the implications of abandoning the district heating network required by the Core Strategy appear less serious than they are in fact.

We stress the vital importance of this issue to the Lancaster West community and the bitter disappointment of once again being denied long awaited and urgently needed remedial works to the Lancaster West heating system. We urge the Committee, in the event that a decision is made to grant planning permission, to impose a S106 planning obligation requiring the Applicant to offer match-funding to the TMO on condition that the TMO agrees to deliver the recommended combi-boiler system to the Lancaster West Estate within a reasonable timeframe (eg within three years)

No Environmental Impact Assessment

The EIA screening opinion for the KALC Supplementary Planning Document produced by the Executive Director for Planning and Borough Deveopment in March 2011 contained the following note;

“The planning application for the whole development proposed by the SPD will require an environmental impact assessment in accordance with the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment)(England and Wales) Regulations1999 as it qualifies as a Schedule 2 (10b) development in terms of the above regulations.”

However the screening opinion for the planning application produced by the same officer in April 2012 stated the opposite opinion, claiming instead that the development is not an EIA development for the purposes of the EIA Regulations. This volte-face has never been adequately explained, although the officer falsely claimed in the April 2012 screening opinion that;

“the development is not of a significantly greater scale than the previous use, nor are the types of impact of a markedly different nature”.

We strongly dispute and object to the reasons given for the decision to forego EIA for this application. We strongly object also to the unexplained change of opinion by the officer concerned and we urge the Committee to refuse planning permission pending an Environmental Impact Assessment that includes proper consideration of the significant impact of the proposed development on the local resident community.

Conclusion

We have presented in this letter just a selection of the errors, contradictions, inconsistencies and false or misleading statements with which this planning application is riddled. We are quite sure that, had we the time and the patience to explore the documents in greater detail, and the technical skill to unpick the detail of the more complex technical drawings, we would have found many more flaws. In our view this planning application has been so incompetently and so cynically drafted, and is so riddled with errors and inconsistencies, that it is unsafe, unsound and unworthy to receive planning permission. We believe that the the dishonest and deceitfull manner in which false and misleading information has been provided by the Applicant is an affront to the Committee and to the planning system, and that it would be reckless and irresponsible of the Major Planning Development Committee to grant planning permission based on the information provided in these deeply flawed and untrustworthy documents.

We urge the Committee to refuse planning permission on these grounds and on the other grounds detailed in this letter.

https://grenfellactiongroup.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/spacer021.gif?w=640

Objections Submitted by Planning Aid For London

on behalf of the Lancaster West Community

DRAFT

PP/12/01833 – KENSINGTON ACADEMY AND LEISURE CENTRE: COMMENTS ON PLANNING APPLICATION

1    Introduction

1.1    This document provides representations on the above planning application on behalf of the following groups (referred to as ‘the community’ in this report):

  • Grenfell Action Group
  • Grenfell Leaseholders Association
  • Lancaster West Estate Management Board
  • Lancaster West Residents Association

2    General Comment

2.1    The need for a new secondary school for north Kensington is widely recognised, but community remains concerned in relation to the selection of the Lancaster West estate as the preferred location for a new academy.  The community does not consider that the Council has engaged in a robust site selection procedure and that the site has been wrongly identified for this major development.  Consequently, the community considers that if constructed, the academy will result in significantly adverse impacts upon the living environment of residents within the estate.  Therefore, the community maintains a strong objection to the proposal as submitted.

2.2    Further more detailed comments in relation to specific aspects of the proposals are listed below.

3    Wider Development Issues

3.1    The proposal is one of a number of major development proposals and recently completed schemes in north Kensington and its immediate surroundings, including Imperial Wharf, Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush and White City.  It is felt that the interrelationships between these development proposals have not been fully considered so that their impacts can be managed in the most effective way and to ensure that they deliver the widest possible benefits to their communities.

4    The Scale and Nature of Development

4.1    The general scale of development of the school is too large for the site.  The need to construct a five storey building would seem to validate this assertion.  The estate is already densely developed with little open space and these open areas are further undermined by this proposal.

4.2    The architectural style of the proposal is unsightly and out of scale and keeping with the immediate environment.  It does not deliver landmark quality buildings as stated by the Council.

4.3    The academy and leisure centre have multiple entrances along the southern edge of both structures. These will completely dominate the green-space/open-space and will have a serious negative impact on residential amenity in that whole area.  As a consequence, Lancaster Green will no longer have any residential amenity value as the open space appears to be designed and laid out to serve the needs of academy and leisure centre users rather than local residents.

5    The Academy

5.1    The community feels that the development of the academy brings no real benefits to the community and that it is being imposed upon it without proper discussion or public involvement, especially during the earlier stages of the project when the site was identified within the Council’s emerging LDF Core Strategy.

5.2    The community maintains its belief that the Council’s site selection process was fundamentally flawed.  Alternative sites, such as the former Kensal Rise gasworks would have provided a better location for an academy of this scale.  The Council seems to have used its ownership of the proposed site as the reason for the location of the academy to the exclusion of all other factors.

5.3    The academy has a capacity of 1140 students, yet only very limited open space is included within the boundary of the school.  This comprises a terrace, small playground and MUGA.  It is clear that this level of recreational space is grossly insufficient for the needs of so many children.  The limited capacity of such spaces means that children are likely to occupy these spaces on a ‘rota’ basis meaning that noise emanating from these areas is likely to be present throughout most of the school day.  In addition, the shape of the academy building (a building on the northern flank of the site with wings on the eastern and western boundaries) is likely to focus noise towards the residents of Grenfell Tower.  Such noise will undoubtedly be detrimental to the amenities of residents.  Residents have raised the need to provide double glazing to mitigate against external noise, the presence of the academy would seemingly reinforce this need for those residents within Grenfell Tower, Verity Close, Whitchurch, Blechynden, Grenfell and Barandon Walks.

5.4    There has also been recent experience of the operation of new academies elsewhere within the Borough.  Chelsea academy now needs additional classroom space which has led to a further reduction in the amount of recreational space within the school.  It remains a possibility that similar developments would be likely at the proposed north Kensington academy.

5.5    The location of the MUGA on the 3rd floor of the academy is likely to be detrimental to the amenities of residents as a result of noise (see also para. 5.3) and the visual impact of floodlighting for the facility.  The availability of the MUGA for community use is also likely to exacerbate issues as its use during evenings and weekends will increase the impact upon residents, particularly in Grenfell Tower.

5.6    The arrival and departure of over 1100 students will undoubtedly create significant impacts on the existing community.  While a reasonable network of public transport exists, it is still likely that many parents will choose to drop off or collect their children by private car adding to congestion, noise and pollution around the immediate area.

5.7    It is likely that an increased number of bus and coach journeys will be made to and from the proposed academy.  The loss of the existing car park on Silchester Road will mean that buses and coaches will park and wait on street causing congestion, noise and pollution.

5.8    In addition to the transport related impacts of students moving to and from the academy site, there is a significant risk of anti-social behaviour by students at the beginning and end of the school day.  Many schools put in place procedures to encourage children to leave the school site quickly at the end of the day, but such measures mean that children are likely to congregate in areas just beyond the school perimeter (e.g., around Grenfell Tower and near Verity Close) causing nuisance to nearby residents.  There is also previous evidence of gang related activity within the general area and it is likely that such problems may increase with the addition of a large group of young people to this general area.  Residents have raised concerns about this issue previously, but have received no response from the Council.

5.9    In general terms, the community reaffirms its belief that the proposed site is too small to accommodate an academy of this scale, this is evidenced by the fact that the proposed academy is a five storey building with a major element of its recreational provision to be sited at third floor level.  The community believes that it will be overwhelmed by this proposal and that there will be sever negative impacts upon the existing community.

5.10    The application states that the academy’s educational focus will be in the creative arts and entrepreneurship. While this is not a planning matter, the community believes that the focus of such a major facility (if developed) should be on the attainment of high educational standards in general rather than a ‘watering down’ to creative subjects.

5.11    In overall terms, the community believes that the proposed academy is not fit for purpose.  While the community considers that the impacts upon itself would be significant, it also believes that the proposed academy would create a substandard learning environment for its students and that it is likely that its lifespan would be reduced as a consequence.  This further illustrates the view of residents that the proposal has not been properly conceived and that it will not deliver a high quality facility.

6    The Leisure Centre

6.1    The community believes that it is not necessary at this time to instigate redevelopment of the leisure centre and that the inclusion of such plans is an attempt to deflect attention from the unacceptable impacts that would arise from the construction of the academy.  The proposal would mean that any new leisure centre would be the third such building in the area in the past 50 years and that this does not represent a prudent use of Council resources.

6.2    The proposed construction programme would mean that there would be no continuity of service and the community would face a lengthy time period when no dedicated leisure facilities were available to the residents of north Kensington, resulting in lengthy journeys to other locations.

6.3    The proposed leisure centre would have its main entrance on its western frontage, there are concerns that this arrangement would lead to additional impacts upon the residents of Treadgold House.

6.4    The proposed facilities within the leisure centre include the provision of a smaller main swimming pool.  The community believes that this is an inappropriate legacy, especially in the year of the London Olympics.

7    Open Space, Environment and Ecology

7.1    The proposed development will reduce the amount of open space available within the Lancaster West estate.  As the area is already densely developed, open space of any type is at a premium and is highly valued by the community.  The proposal would result in the loss of informal grassed areas and mature trees.  These are areas that are well used by all members of the community for informal play, general relaxation, sitting out and dog walking and their loss would have a significant impact upon residents.

7.2    While Lancaster West is a highly urban location, there are pockets of ecological and environmental interest within the area.  There is a healthy population of local birds including mistle thrushes and woodpeckers that would be at risk should development proceed.

8    Transport

8.1    As is noted in para. 3.1, the community is concerned about the wider transport implications of the proposed development, especially in the light of wider major developments in west London.  Additional traffic from surrounding areas already uses Bramley Road and St Mark’s Road as short cuts and rat runs and there is an additional concern that the creation of a new through route via Grenfell Road will lead to an increase in rat running that will create additional, noise, pollution and create road safety risks for students and residents, specifically young children, elderly and the disabled.

8.2    The new through route via Grenfell Road is a major concern to the local community and it does not believe that the effects of this route have been properly assessed.  At the current time, this route is a private route that is accessible only to residents, servicing vehicles and the emergency services.  The opening of this route will inevitably lead to a high level of usage, especially at peak periods as drivers seek to avoid delays on other parts of the road network.  Vehicle movements will create conflicts with residents within the area and may also be a danger to students arriving at school during the morning peak period.  It is recognised that efforts have been made to design the road so that vehicle speeds can be controlled, but in reality, drivers seeking to avoid delays elsewhere will not be discouraged from using this route.

8.3    There is concern that the opening of Grenfell Road to all traffic will inhibit emergency vehicle access to Grenfell Tower and Grenfell, Barandon, Testerton and Hurstway Walks.

8.4    The new route will also result in the loss of further green space.  This is unnecessary.

8.5    The construction of the academy will result in the loss of the Silchester Road car park which provides car parking for leisure centre users and residents.  The community objects to the loss of this car parking and wishes to see appropriate reprovision of car parking spaces.

9    Impacts from Construction

9.1    There is widespread concern within the community about the impacts of the construction should the planning application be approved.  There are particular concerns in relation to:

  • Noise during construction
  • Dust generation
  • Vibration
  • Traffic flows, particularly HGVs
  • Management of contaminated land or materials within the site.

10    Infrastructure

10.1    There is a general concern that the scale of the proposed development will place a great strain on available infrastructure within the area, particularly the transport network.

10.2    The Counter’s Creek sewer is already believed to be at or near capacity and a major development of this type cannot be accommodated.

11    Other Matters

11.1    The community considers that the proposals will reinforce the feeling of social segregation within Lancaster West as the development is strongly opposed by the community.

11.2    The leaseholders of Grenfell Tower are opposed to the proposals as they feel that the development will have a detrimental effect upon the value and saleability of their properties.

12    Conclusions

12.1    In summary, the community firmly opposes the planning application for the construction of the north Kensington academy and leisure centre as it believes that the proposals are seriously detrimental to the amenity of existing residents, due to the following factors:
i. The proposals would result in the loss of an area of open space and recreational facilities that are crucially important to the local community.
ii. The proposed development would result in an intensification of development in an already densely developed area.
iii. The proposed reopening of the area to vehicular traffic would be detrimental to amenity and increase risks for residents and leisure centre users.
iv. The proposed academy is poorly designed and would create a poor neighbour to the existing estate and increase the risk of anti-social behaviour.
v. The proposed academy would not be fit for purpose and provide a poor environment for future learning.

AW/219036
2 August 2012

PP/12/01833 Land at Lancaster Green, bounded by Silchester Road to the north, Grenfell Road and Bomore Road to the south, Dulford Street and Verity Close to the east and the Hammersmith and City Railway Line to the west, including the existing leisure centre.

Applicant’s name: Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Demolition of existing leisure centre and associated sports pitch facilities to facilitate redevelopment to provide a new Leisure Centre of 9,570 sqm (within use class D2), the construction of a new Academy of 12,749 sqm (within use class D1) with associated facilities, the construction of a new residential block to provide 35 units (use class C3) with a basement car park and the provision of hard and soft landscaping across the site with up to 32 on-site and on-street car parking spaces provided. (Major Application)

12th September 2012

Dear Mr George,

I write for the Kensington Society to state our strongest objection to the application for the above described Major Application.

Objections:

  • Contrary to SPD Kensington Academy and Leisure Centre;
  • Loss of open space;
  • Loss of amenity space;
  • Sport England’s objection;
  • Thames Water objection;
  • New road;
  • Unacceptable uses of Westway Sport Centre;
  • Lack of parity to Holland Park School;
  • Question facilities for autistic students;
  • CCHP; and
  • Misleading application description

Introduction:

There is no argument that there is a need for an additional school in Kensington. In addition, we recognise that the existing building housing the Leisure Centre is in need of repair and the cost for such repair could exceed the cost for replacement.

There is, in addition, no argument that this section of the Royal Borough contains above average levels of deprivation. This deprivation is almost exclusively concentrated in the north of the Borough, with the 5 northerly wards of Norland, Colville, St. Charles Notting Barns and Golbourne each including at least one Lower Super Output Area (LSOA) in the top 20% most deprived in the country, all except Colville containing an LSOA within the top 10% most deprived. All LSOAs in Notting Barns and Golbourne are in the top 20% most deprived. The percentage of children 0-15 living in income deprived households in the four wards of Colville, St Charles, Notting Barns and Golborne is 44% with an average of 814 homes in the income deprived level. Benchmark this against the catchment area for Holland Park School at 3.35 in 44 homes.

There is also no argument that the Royal Borough is the wealthiest in the nation and with a population of 179,000, the Borough is the most densely populated borough in the UK. Not all the residents may feel the social obligation to create an environment which will allow all the children to have the opportunities to prosper. It is the Kensington Society’s position that there is a social obligation to provide a school in the north which is equal to the Holland Park School. In fact, there is a Government requirement under the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) Regulations 2011 which requires the Council to take action to advance equality in the performance of all its functions…including the provision of equal education opportunity. Extremes of wealth and poverty exist side by side in this cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic and multi-faith Borough in which residents can trace their origins to all parts of the globe and over 100 different first languages are spoken. In RBKC’s schools, 70% of pupils are from ethnic minorities with over 100 different first languages spoken. A school for these multi-ethnic and multi-faith children must meet the same high standards set for the Holland Park School. If the school does not provide equal educational opportunities then it will not be meeting the Government’s Equality Act regulations which came into force in September 2011. We have been told that these concerns are not concerns of the Planning Department and we may not disagree, however, they are the concerns of the Council.

We have asked specific questions about the facilities provided. We have asked for the architectural brief for the Holland Park School and for the KA so we could compare the facility differences. We have asked if the Education Department has reviewed and approved the plans for the academy. We have asked if the Cabinet Member for Education has been consulted and approved the plans for the school. We have not received answers to these and many other questions we have asked.

Contrary to Core Strategy and the SPD Kensington Academy and Leisure Centre (KALC)

The Core Strategy set the stage for the use of the land surrounding Grenfell Tower and the land that the existing Leisure Centre for the future academy and a refurbished or new Leisure Centre. The Core Strategy specifically addresses the possibility of housing noting that it would only be proposed “dependent on the capacity” of the site. For reference, this is what the Core Strategy states:

23.2.4  Any public sector funding may need to be supplemented with funding from enabling residential development. However, the amount of enabling residential development will be dependent on the capacity and design of this site and therefore does not form part of the allocation.

Then the SPD Kensington Academy and Leisure Centre Planning Brief again mentions the possibility of housing but notes that any housing should not be considered if housing would compromise the other objectives:

5.6 HOUSING

5.6.1 There may be an opportunity for additional housing to be built on the site. This is not a requirement of the Core Strategy and should not compromise the other objectives of this brief.

The other objectives stated within the SPD are: a new school building, improved leisure facilities, recreation and green space, movement, and residential amenity. The addition of the housing on the extreme east of the site has compromised all of these objectives. The Leisure Centre will not have a 50m pool (standard training and regulation Olympic size and loved by the present users), the green space (usable green space!) is greatly reduced, increased traffic both to the new school but through the site (or new road in truthful terms narrow and though strongly opposed is compromised), and the residential amenity (addressed elsewhere in this objection) is greatly reduced.

This Borough as stated before is the wealthiest in the nation. The Council is campaigning for a Crossrail station to be built in North Kensington and has according to the RBKC website “committed to underwrite the £33m construction costs”. Of course some of the cost could be underwritten by the Kensal developer. It is understood that the school will be paid for from BSF government money, Aldridge Foundation sponsorship money, part of the surplus from the sale of the Holland Park school land and a minimal amount from Council reserves. How can the Council accept the need for enabling money from housing which will compromise all the objectives of the site?

We also remind the Council and the planning development of call in by the Secretary of State for the Holland Park School because of the loss open space. The result was the relocation of the housing from the grounds of the school and an increased playing area. We will oppose this application on those same grounds, the site is too restricted to be compromised by housing.

We strongly object to any housing on this restricted site and will propose to the Secretary of State that the application be called in the same basis as before.

Loss of open space

It has been interesting to follow the calculation provided by the planning department for existing and proposed open space. It seems the calculations vary from time to time and from document to document. What is required is a summary similar tot eh one in the HPS officer’s report 9.10 page 37. However, in the latest revised statement from the developer to be (in sqm);

Summary: increase in hard surfaces by 1,600 sqm; reduction in soft surfaces by 1,684; loss of on-site 5 aside court of 1,782; total reduction in Public Realm = 1,866 sqm. In the Design and Access Statement the public realm number is stated as 10,940 sqm or 485 sqm less. We are not sure how the variations occur in the various reports but note that there seems to be variations throughout…which leads us to conclude that the numbers are not to be trusted.

Then there is a creative…and crafty…addition of the green roofs of 900 sqm into the total open space. The problem is that a green roof maybe great for the environment and surface water drainage…BUT a green roof is not a space to be used by the public. You cannot play ball on it nor have a picnic nor sit on it….nor even access it. We are surprised that such a slight of hand is used. The 900 sqm added for the green roof space is just not acceptable.

In addition, there is another crafty use of the numbers. The existing space beside the 5 aside court has parking spaces for the Leisure centre and for the local residents of 80 car parking spaces, six disabled bays, two mini bus bays, one coach parking area. This proposal has car parking on site for less than 10 cars BUT the hard surface increases by 1,600 sqm. The cause of this reduction is, of course, the new road and a service road to the Leisure Centre (where services vans and lorries will park)…more on that later. however, it is important to stress here a road may be open but it is not usable.

The CABE report Decent Homes Need Decent Space reinforces our opinion that open space must be provided and of proper usable size:

The quality of open spaces has a profound impact on people’s health and wellbeing. CABE research shows that people living in deprived areas are more likely to have a poorer-quality local environment with less access to attractive green space. Now is the time to turn this around.

So what we have is a loss of open space of 1,866 sqm, increase in hard surfaces by 1,600 sqm. 1,866 sqm is more than the space of the existing 5 aside courts. It is space badly needed and we strongly oppose any loss of open…usable…space.

Loss of amenity space

This relates to the objection to the loss of open space noted above. Not all open space is an amenity space as discussed…a road is not an amenity space, though “open”. The existing amenity space (soft surfaces and 5 aside court) is 7,050 sqm. The proposal for KALC is a mere 3,584 or a loss of 3,466 sqm. Proportionally this is a loss of over the amount of two 5 aside courts. Many of the residential tower blocks in this area of Lancaster West Estate use the amenity space at the base of Grenfell Tower. Grenfell Tower alone has over 120 flats of varying sizes and the open area is a badly needed and heavily used amenity. The loss of any amenity space is not acceptable.

The Council’s review in 2004 (the latest I could find) of open spaces covers all open space including public, private and areas with limited accessibility. The audit of existing facilities showed that distribution within the Borough is uneven, with the Notting Barns ward being one of the poorer areas in terms of provision. Any loss of open space is opposed especially in a dense ward with high social needs and limited alternatives.

NPPF replaced former open space policies however does not ignore the need for protection of open space. In 74 of NPPF the requirement is that there be NO loss of existing open space unless one of three criteria is met. None of the 3 are met here.

  1. the space is not surplus to supply.
  2. the remaining space is not being replaced with equivalent or better provisions in quantity as there is loss of open space and the replacement results in an increase in hard surfaces and a road running through it with access for services vehicles and parking.
  3. the “alternative provision” would no longer be within the “neighbourhood” of the estate and of a reduced size (existing 5 aside is 1,782 sqm and the Westway court is 1,406 sqm). The NPPF policy states:

74. Existing open space, sports and recreational buildings and land, including playing fields, should not be built on unless:
● an assessment has been undertaken which has clearly shown the open space, buildings or land to be surplus to requirements; or
● the loss resulting from the proposed development would be replaced by equivalent or better provision in terms of quantity and quality in a suitable location; or
● the development is for alternative sports and recreational provision, the needs for which clearly outweigh the loss.

The LDF’s policy reinforces our objection and give ground for refusal:

Policy CR 5 Parks, Gardens, Open Spaces and Waterways

The Council will protect, enhance and make the most of existing parks, gardens and open spaces, and require new high quality outdoor spaces to be provided.

To deliver this the Council will:

a. resist the loss of existing:

i. Metropolitan Open Land;
ii. public open space;
iii. private communal open space and private open space where the space gives visual amenity to the public;

b. resist development that has an adverse effect upon the environmental and open character or visual amenity

Policy CL 5 Amenity

The Council will require new buildings, extensions and modifications and small scale alterations and additions, to
achieve high standards of amenity.

To deliver this the Council will:

c. require that there is no harmful increase in the sense of enclosure to existing buildings and spaces;

d. require that there is no significant impact on the use of buildings and spaces due to increases in traffic, parking, noise, odours or vibration or local microclimatic effects.

Additional policies which support our objection to the housing are within the UDP:

H2: to seek the development of land and buildings for residential uses UNLESS:
b) the land is required for the provision of social or community facilities to meet local needs

CD23: to protect and enhance, and to resist the loss of existing public and private open space which makes, or is capable of making, a contribution to an area’s character or appearance; and to resist proposals which would adversely affect its setting.

LR1: to resist the loss of playing fields, pitches and other sports and recreational provision.

Last point, Grenfell Tower is the only tower without balconies. The open space at the base of this building is extremely important to them and the loss will be felt by all.

Sport England’s objection

Within the application file is a letter from Sports England dated 18 July 2012. The letter outlines Sport England’s concerns over the loss of the playing areas stating:

It is understood that the development is likely to prejudice the use, or lead to the loss of use, of land being used as a playing field; or is on land that forms part of, or constitutes a playing field, as defined in the Town and country Planning (Development Management Procedure)(England) Order 2010 (SI 2010/2184) Schedule 5.

The letter asks that specific issues and concerns be addressed. We have asked for copies of Sport England reply to their letter of 18 July and the latest comments. We have not to date seen any letter or statement from Sport England which would indicate that the organisation has altered its view that there is unacceptable loss of playing areas. Sport England is a statutory consultee and we agree with their concerns. Approval for any application risks their rejection which the secretary of state is obliged to consider.

Thames Water objection

Within the application file there is section pertaining to Thames Water. The sewer line in this section of the Borough is the Counter’s Creek line, a combined surface water and sewer line, which is notorious for flooding. Any increase in water flow into the Counter’s Creek line is likely to surcharge into the adjacent or down line properties. Thames Water is now a statutory consultee as well. The case file notes that

“Thames Water need to plan in advance for infrastructure as we have been advised that we are unable to seek upgrades via a Section 106 planning legal agreement”.

We note that that they have commented that:

Thames Water has very limited powers under the water industry act to prevent connection to our network where insufficient capacity exists and where needed, we would rely on the Local Authority to include a Grampian style condition.

It is essential that developers demonstrate that adequate capacity exists both on and off the site to serve the development and that it would not lead to problems for existing users. In some circumstances this may make it necessary for developers to carry out appropriate studies to ascertain whether the proposed development will lead to overloading of existing water & sewerage infrastructure. Where there is a capacity problem and no improvements are programmed by Thames Water (or any successor), the Local Authority will require the developer to fund appropriate improvements that must be completed prior to occupation of the development.

Depending on the type and scale of development proposed, there may be capacity issues in relation to the existing water supply network. It may therefore be necessary for Thames Water to undertake investigations to determine the impact of any development proposed. As such the following paragraph should be added to the relevant section of the Brief:

“Developers will be required to demonstrate that there is adequate water supply and wastewater capacity both on and off the site to serve the development and that it would not lead to problems for existing or new users. In some circumstances it may be necessary for developers to fund studies to ascertain whether the proposed development will lead to overloading of existing water and wastewater infrastructure.”

There is nothing within the application documents which notes the methods for reducing surface water run-off caused by the increased hard surfaces:

Policy CE 2 Flooding

The Council will require development to adapt to fluvial flooding and mitigate the effects of, and adapt to, surface water and sewer flooding.

To deliver this the Council will:

b. require a site-specific Flood Risk Assessment, including an ‘Exception Test’ for all development in Flood Risk Zone 2 and 3 as defined in the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment, for sites in areas with critical drainage problems and for all sites greater than 1 hectare;

c. where required undertake the ‘Sequential Test’ for planning applications within Flood Risk Zones 2 and 3, and for sites in areas with critical drainage problems;

d. require development at risk from flooding in Flood Risk Zones 2 and 3, in areas with critical drainage problems, or sites greater than 1ha to incorporate suitable flood defence or flood mitigation measures in accordance with the recommendations of the site specific Flood Risk Assessment;

e. require sustainable urban drainage (SUDs), or other measures, to reduce both the volume and the speed of water run-off to the drainage system ensuring that surface water run-off is managed as close to its source as possible in line with the hierarchy in the London Plan. In particular, major development must make a significant reduction in the current volume and speed of water run-off to the drainage system

We have repeatedly asked if a Grampian style condition will be required if approved and whether the clause requested by Thames Water will be included. We have been told that Thames Water has not finalised their comments or report. We have not seen any evidence that the developer has provided any of the studies necessary to address Thames Waters concerns…and our concerns. Such studies cannot be provided at a later date following planning approval especially if the cost to address the concerns discovered is not budgeted. It is foolhardy to contemplate any approval of this application without a full understanding of the sewer and water supply implications.

New Road

From the very beginning of the study of this site the local residents have opposed any vehicular access through the site. The council has repeatedly and steadfastly ignored them. The Council seems to be fixated on a road and totally ignores the reason there is no road there now. There was once a road which the planners continue to talk about as the “historic street” context. But the road was closed for a very good reason. The road was previously used to cut through on a north/south axis and was a local rat run. Many streets in Norland and Notting Barns have been closed. Clarendon Cross in the middle of Portland Road is a very good example…and no one is calling for the “historic street pattern” to be open there.

The officer has responded to our concerns by stating “The highway impacts on the streets immediately surrounding the site remain to be assessed”, however, the Council steadfastly contend that there will be no increase in traffic. Historically there was traffic…so bad that the road was closed and the traffic will increase. We have been told that the access will be controlled by bollards which the Leisure Centre will control. This is a knee jerk solution…unacceptable and unmanageable… to a recognised problem. The only reasons bollards are needed is that there is a road in an inappropriate place. Bollards require someone to operate them. We would suggest that the control by the Leisure Centre would be not unlike the Leisure Centre’s existing control of the existing 5 aside court…non-existent. The bollards will not be controlled, will become a management issue, will be left down most of the time and will be removed at a later date. There is a massive increase (1,600 sqm) in hard surfaces…and the road is the main hard surface. We see that the Leisure Centre has been designed for services from the road and in front of the school. We, as we have always, oppose the road. Redesign the Leisure Centre with access to the services in a proper place…not in front of the school…and not using the valuable open space.

In addition, we have been told to facilitate the 27 additional on-street parking on Bomore Road the street might need to be widened. This needs to be presented and reviewed before permission is granted.

Unacceptable uses of Westway Sport Centre

The entry to the Westway Sport Centre is approximately 5 minutes from the site. The courts recommended as replacement for the loss of the community courts of the Lancaster Estate are a further 5 minutes away…but one has to first stop at the centre, confirm a booking and get access…to total time to get to the 2 replacement courts” is a direct walk of 10 minutes …more than the 5 minutes walks stated in the report. Anyone using the courts must pay an annual membership and book the courts in advance. I have tried to book the courts and found that the telephone is seldom answered, messages left are not returned and when I was able to reach someone the courts were booked for over a week in advance….and that is the situation now. It is probable that the people who are displaced from the courts at the Lancaster Estate will never be able to book a court in time. In addition, the cost for the uses of the courts, besides the annual membership, is £5.50 more than the current charge for the existing court. The Westway court is smaller than the existing court by 376 sqm which restricts its usability.

We have asked if the police has been consulted about the uses of the Westway courts by the Lancaster Estate residents. We are concerned that there may be territorial issues. We have not seen any response from the police. The courts are not proper substitutes for courts “at you own back door”.

Lack of parity to Holland Park School

1. Massive reduction in external space:

The officer’s report for the Holland Park School (HPS)notes that the external area for the school is 23,392 sqm. KA has external 3,881 sqm of play space which includes the delivery bay and approach road. The new academy external space is 22,511 sqm LESS than HPS! The Design and Access statement has the KA sqm breakdown. The preamble statement tells all:
Given the constrained site, with no direct access to playing fields or grass pitches, all available external space has had to be utilized to maximum advantage. External space provisions for the Academy rely extensively on utilisation of roofs…

2. Size of building:

The case officer has provided the internal sqm for the academy as 9,714 sqm. KALC Design and Access statement gives the external sqm to be

3. Parking:

The HPS has 42 parking space for staff and visitors. The KALC site has 7 on site and those are there to meet the disabled requirements. There will be no parking for staff or visitors at the KALC site. If a visiting lecturer or special needs teacher wants to come to the school they will be required to use the public transport or park on the limited Pay and display space created on the street. If a teacher is offered a position at both HPS and this school and lives a distance from the school, which school do you think the teacher will choose to work in? On the KALC site there are 7 parking spaces which will be shared with the Leisure Centre and will be available for disabled parking.

4. Student numbers (sqm per student):

HPS is approximately 15,000 sqm with 1,400 to 1,500 students. The KA’s school is only 9,714 sqm with 1,140 students. Sqm per student in HPS is approximately 10.7 sqm per student, using the number of 1,500 students. KA is 8.5 sqm per student…or 20% less space per student than HPS. And this is for children from the most deprived area of the nation…but in the wealthiest Borough of the nation.

5. Special sixth form area:

The 300 HPS sixth form students have the use of the grade listed Thorpe Lodge stands separate of the school within the grounds. The teaching area for the sixth form is on the top floor, separated from the other areas. The proposed school will have 240 sixth form students. I have asked if there is a separate space for them and have been told it is not a planning matter.

6. Playing fields:

HPS has 2 MUGA games areas, KA has one. HPS has an artificial sports pitch of 3 courts: KA has none.

Question facilities for autistic students:

The revised Proposed Development statement bullet point 3 of 2.2 page 3 mentions that the school will provide a Borough-wide resource for autistic students, however, nowhere within the file have we discovered any specific designation for the needs of autistic students. According to the National Autistic Society;

”…children with an autistic spectrum disorder is a complex developmental disability that affects the way a person communicates and relates to people around them. The term autistic spectrum is often used because the condition varies from person to person; some people may also have accompanying learning disabilities, while others are much more able with average or above average intelligence… Despite all of the wide ranging differences, everyone with the condition has difficulty with social interaction, social communication and imagination”.

To accept the statement that there will be a Borough-wide resource assumes the Academy will function as a school for all children without providing details of the requirements and how they will be met is questionable at best.

There appears to be no detail of how this programme will function and evidence that the Education Department of RBKC has been involved in any development or coordination. How are autistic students from the south of the Borough to travel to the school? Are there special teaching aids, special facilities, what number of students is anticipated? We are extremely sceptical of this Borough-wide resource without full details.

CCHP

The SPD stated clearly a policy for the requirement of the development. Within this policy…CA4… the commitment to provide: “d. a Combined Cooling, Heating and Power (CCHP) plant or similar, of a suitable size to serve the site with the potential to contribute to the heat and energy demand of the wider community as part of a district heat and energy network”.

Within the documents there are confusing statements about CCHP. In 2008 there was a study produced by Edward Pearse and Partners recommended that a combi-boiler system would be best and did not recommend CCHP for the building at that time. The OSC report at that time states the estimated cost of the combi-boiler program for the estates was £12.13 million. Though CA4 is part of the requirements of the SPD, it is now separated from the proposal. There is a report from Max Foreman which states the cost for the combi-boiler would be £5.5m. Something is not right here and further understanding of how the site including Grenfell Tower will be provided with heating.

Misleading application description:

The application description states that the “35 units (use class C3) with a basement car park and the provision of hard and soft landscaping across the site with up to 32 on-site and on-street car parking spaces provided”. This appears in the latest proposals there are 7 off street parking spaces (disabled), 16 off street parking (in basement of residential and only for the housing use). All coach parking is on the street and the plan for the coach parking is not fully developed. There is a proposal for additional street parking with the possibility of reducing the existing residential parking spaces on the surrounding streets. This compares with the present provisions of 80 car parking spaces, six disabled bays, two mini bus bays, one coach parking area, a bay for four motorcycles…all for the existing Leisure Centre and occupants of the estate. Do not be fooled… there may be an additional of 32 spaces (the description says “on-site and on-street”)…most of the parking is on the street and in area which does not have parking now. There is a loss of actually 80 spaces. The description in the application is misleading.

Additional questions asked but not answered:

1. Can you tell me if the plans and development documents for the academy been assessed by the RBKC Education department and the Family and Children’s Services department?

2. Has an assessment of the level of existing couch uses for both the school and the Leisure Centre been produced? I know it is proposed that there be couch parking on Silchester Road. How many couches will park there? If the SPD requires 2 min and 4 max for the Leisure Centre…how many couches are needed for the school? The following is a statement from the SPD:

5.3.15 The car park also provides coach parking for the Leisure Centre. An assessment of the level of coach traffic which could be generated by the school and leisure centre and how this will be accommodated will need to accompany any planning application submitted for the development. Sufficient coach parking to meet the needs of the leisure centre and the new school will need to be provided as part of the redevelopment.

3. Has an assessment of the level of existing coach uses for both the school and the Leisure Centre been produced? I know it is proposed that there be coach parking on Silchester Road. How many coaches will park there? If the SPD requires 2 min and 4 max for the leisure centre…how many coaches are needed for the school? The following is a statement from the SPD:

5.3.15 The car park also provides coach parking for the Leisure Centre. An assessment of the level of coach traffic which could be generated by the school and leisure centre and how this will be accommodated will need to accompany any planning application submitted for the development. Sufficient coach parking to meet the needs of the leisure centre and the new school will need to be provided as part of the redevelopment.

4. How is the disable parking proposed to be divided between the school and the Leisure Centre?
We were told that the following questions were not a planning issue and that may be so…however, the questions all came from a review of the HPS Major planning officer’s report. If noted as important for HPS we feel the questions are of equal importance to this application:

5. Can you confirm that the KA meets the requirements of the ‘90 -Lighting Design for Schools plus Lighting Systems in Schools -Standard Specifications, Layouts and Dimensions’, 2007?

6. According to the 2008 Major Planning Committee report HPS has 34.5% of the pupils entitled to free school meals. Is there any information about the anticipated number of students in the new academy who will be entitled to free lunches?

7. English was an additional language for 60% of the HPS pupils. Is there any such information on the pupils for the new academy?

It is understood that the School will be paid for from BSF government money, Aldridge Foundation sponsorship money, part of the surplus from the sale of the Holland Park school land and some Council reserves. As stated in the introduction…we need a school in the north, we do not disagree. But at what cost? Cost is more than the money to be spent…it is the cost also of under providing for the children in this Borough who may need the most assistance. We are the richest Borough in the nation and this is not the place to save money. These children deserve more.

The Planning Statement page 6, 4.10 states that the “proposals should only be refused where there are ‘demonstrable negative local impacts which substantially outweigh the desirability of establishing a new school and which cannot be addressed through the appropriate use of planning conditions or obligations’”. We have outlined 11 reasons which do demonstrate that the proposal will have a negative impact on the local area. We have asked 8 questions which have not been answered…and there may be more. As much as a school is needed, this is not an acceptable one.

Conclusion:

This application should be refused on the grounds that:

  • The Core Strategy specifically states that housing on the site “does not form part of the allocation” and should only be considered if it does not compromise the objective of a new school and Leisure centre. The land loss to the housing is not acceptable especially when considering the overall loss of open space and the increase sense of enclosure which the residents of Lancaster Estates will suffer. Both the Core Strategy and the SPD give reasons to not accept the housing;
  • The reduction of open space by 1,866 sqm, the increase in hard surfaces by 1,600 sqm is not acceptable. A green roof may be open but it is not usable space. A road may be open but is unusable. The calculations within the report are creative at best… there will be loss of open space;
  • The residents of all of estates in the area use will be harmed by the loss of space, amenities and is supported by the NPPF, the LDF policies CR5 and CL5 and the saved UDP polices H2, CD23, and LR1;
  • Sport England’s objections have not been addressed;
  • The new road is opposed by all. It will increase the hard surface and reduce the usable open space;
  • The Westway Sport Centre is not acceptable alternative for the loss of the amenities within the grounds of Grenfell tower;
  • The education facilities are not of the same standard as provided for the new HPS;
  • Though the planning statement states there will be “wide resource centre for autistic students” there is no information provided as to how these special needs will be provided; and
  • The Core Strategy requirement to address the needs of the Lancaster Estates in particular the outdated heating system is not addressed.

The children of this Borough deserve more. We remind you of the Government requirement under the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) Regulations 2011 which requires the Council to take action to advance equality in the performance of all its functions…including the provision of equal education opportunity.

We ask that this application be refused.

Yours sincerely

Amanda Frame
Chairman
Kensington Society

The Notting Barns Ward Councillors Response

PLANNING APPLICATION PP/12/01833
KENSINGTON ACADEMY AND LEISURE CENTRE
COMMENTS FROM THE NOTTING BARNS WARD COUNCILLORS

1.0     Introduction

1.1    The Kensington Academy and Leisure Centre (KALC) planning application embraces three major developments that will have a huge impact on the lives, residential amenity and environment of the residents of the Lancaster West Estate and the surrounding area. It is therefore imperative that the Applicant treats the concerns of these residents with respect and takes every possible step to mitigate the negative impacts of the development.

1.2    The need for a secondary school in the north of the Borough is incontrovertible and the development of a new Leisure Centre is desirable. The chosen location is not ideal, nor is the proposed configuration within the site – and the Applicant itself acknowledges that it is very small for an Academy of the size proposed. The KALC Supplementary Planning Development (SPD) states: “5.1.5 … The site area indicated for the school in this brief is about 6,000sqm, slightly bigger than the site of Chelsea Academy but smaller than the suggested minimum site area of 9,300sqm as stated in government guidance.”

1.3    However, this is the site selected for this development and it is therefore incumbent on the Applicant, the planners and others to ensure that the shortcomings of the site are mitigated so far as it possible.

1.4    We note that the Lancaster West Residents’ Association, the Lancaster West Estate Management Board, the Grenfell Leaseholders’ Association and the Grenfell Action Group all oppose the KALC development on Lancaster West. Nevertheless, the need for a secondary school in the north of the Borough is long-standing, urgent and unequivocal and the petition submitted by local parents in support of KALC include signatures from many who live on Lancaster West Estate, including several who reside in Grenfell Tower.

1.5    It is regrettable that the Council did not place the model of the development in North Kensington Library, so that local residents would have been able to make informed comments on the proposals. It is also unfortunate that the sheer volume of planning documentation on the Council’s website makes it effectively inaccessible to lay members of the public. The very short timetable from formal publication of the application – at the beginning of the holiday period – also reduces the opportunity for detailed consideration and we trust that our representations, despite being late, will be considered before the planning application is determined.

1.6    The ward councillors have been fully involved throughout the consultation process and indeed were obliged to initiate a public meeting to address the consultation deficit at the start of this process. We have also received many formal and informal representations during the preceding months from both supporters and opponents of the KALC project.

1.7    We broadly welcome the KALC project. Therefore this response is solely concerned with our objections, concerns and reservations that we wish to see addressed during the determination of the application.

2.0    Impact on the Residential Amenity of the Surrounding Neighbourhood

2.1    The KALC SPD includes the following commitment: “as detailed design work progresses, to work with residents to find practical solutions to the impacts of noise which may arise from the academy, and the concerns surrounding traffic and the numbers of young people that will be in the area.”

2.2    We would like to see a commitment that the Council, the Aldridge Foundation and Greenwich Leisure will continue to work with residents once the development is completed and the Academy and Leisure Centre both up and running, to assess the effectiveness of the measures to mitigate the effects of these developments, to rectify any outstanding problems that may remain and to address any unanticipated issues that may emerge.

3.0    Impact on the Residential Amenity of Grenfell Tower

3.1    The KALC SPD states: “5.1.9. … The roof might be used as external space in connection with the school so long as issues of residential amenity can be resolved. Such designs have been successfully implemented at Chelsea Academy in the south of the Borough where a similarly constrained site was used to deliver a fully functional school. (p.16)”

3.2    Much has been made of the successful development of the Chelsea Academy on an equally constrained site within a highly residential area, but the effects of the Kensington Academy on the residents of Grenfell Tower will be significantly more severe and this is not a useful comparator.

3.3    The KALC SPD states:  “5.5.2 … As part of the planning application for the school, the Council will expect a full list of mitigation measures that the school will intend to use and where necessary impose planning conditions to control and minimise noise and disruption for the residents living in the area.”

  • We wish to have sight of the school’s proposed noise mitigation measures as quickly as possible.

3.4    The KALC SPD states: “5.5.6 If a Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) is provided at roof level, it should also be suitably screened so as to ensure that there is no harmful loss of privacy or significant increase in noise levels experienced by residents. The Council will support innovative means of achieving this.”

3.5    Grenfell Tower rises far above the proposed Academy, which will face the Tower, with an outdoor amphitheatre-style playground directly opposite. A rooftop second floor Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) will also be sited directly opposite the Tower. These two play areas will cause significant problems for Grenfell Tower residents, including noise nuisance and floodlight intrusion, particularly during the winter months.

3.6    Consequently, we urge the planners to require the Applicant to:

  • include a roof on the MUGA
  • restrict the hours when the MUGA can be used to exclude evenings and weekends
  • ensure that all floodlighting is directional to eliminate light intrusion into the dwellings
  • install acoustic fencing around both play spaces
  • and “green” the playground, for example by planting ivy or similar on all the walls to reduce the incidence of sound ricocheting from one side to the other and upwards to the Tower.

4.0    Loss of Open Space

4.1    When tower blocks were introduced in the 1960s/1970s, great care was taken to surround them with significant amounts of open space to prevent a sense of enclosure and density, as well as to provide outdoor recreational space for the residents.

4.2    The amount of public open space that will be lost from the Lancaster West Estate as a result of the KALC development includes:

  • Lancaster Green
  • three five-a-side artificially turfed football pitches
  • a large car park
  • half of Station Walk
  • all of the green space and shrubberies adjacent to Station Walk
  • the garden in front of the existing Leisure Centre
  • the outdoor children’s playground
  • and the secluded green beside the playground.

4.3    The new development will replace the lost public open space on-site with:

  • a new, slightly larger, more landscaped but less “green” Lancaster Green, bisected into two parts by a new through route
  • and a re-sited outdoor children’s playground

and off-site with

  • two replacement five-a-side pitches at the Westway Sports Centre alongside a motorway slip road.

4.4    The Public Realm Area Analysis shows, excluding service areas etc., a loss of 4,182 m2 of on-site open space. This is a significant reduction (26%) in the overall amount of public open space on Lancaster West Estate that will inevitably lead to a greatly increased sense of enclosure and density.

5.0    Loss of Children’s Outdoor Play Space

5.1    We note that part of Sport England’s Policy on Playing Fields is to “ensure an adequate supply of quality pitches” but we cannot agree that the replacement pitches at the Westway Sport Centre meet this aspiration. The “replacement” pitches are not in fact replacements but the conversion of two existing tennis courts into five-a-side football pitches. Neither do they match the quality of those that will be lost, given their location directly beside a motorway slip road.

5.2    They are unlikely to be as attractive to the groups that currently use the Lancaster West pitches, although it will be their choice whether or not to use these “alternative” pitches. However, these pitches are wholly unsuitable for the younger (Under 15s) Lancaster West resident children who need an informal kick-about and play space on the Estate itself, within easy reach of home and parental supervision. So while KALC may not necessarily permanently reduce opportunities for participation in sporting activities, the current proposals will permanently reduce the availability of outdoor, informal play opportunities for the children of Lancaster West Estate on the Estate.

5.3    Lancaster West has a very high number of resident children and young people. It is the largest Council/TMO managed social housing estate in the Borough but unlike the World’s End and Swinbrook Estates, for example, Lancaster West has neither dedicated youth workers nor a dedicated youth facility. The loss of informal play space, especially for kick-abouts, will therefore have a dramatic effect on reducing children’s opportunities to take exercise and play in the open air, with all their associated benefits. It will be those children of the Estate aged between 7 and 14 years who will be the biggest losers, since their parents are unlikely to allow them to go off the Estate for informal play.

5.4    It would be a great tragedy if Kensington and Chelsea’s most noteworthy legacy for Great Britain’s finest Olympics year ever were to be the loss of informal outdoor play space for some of the most deprived children in the Borough.

  • We have the strongest objection to the loss of informal outdoor play space and ask the planners to identify some open space that can be set aside as an informal outdoor play space for the Under 15 resident children of the Estate.

6.0    Lancaster Green

6.1    Grenfell Tower is the only residential tower block in North Kensington where residents have no private outdoor space. Apart from Trellick Tower, it is the largest and most densely populated tower block in North Kensington.

6.2    The KALC SPD states: “5.3.1. and 5.3.2 … Lancaster Green and the other informal open spaces are considered valuable assets, especially to those living in Grenfell Tower where there are no balconies. These green areas are therefore the only external amenity space in immediate proximity to their homes. The survey undertaken in late 2010/early 2011 showed that nearly two-thirds of respondents use Lancaster Green ‘sometimes’ or ‘often’…  Residents state that the green areas are used both for play and recreation and as a quiet area for contemplation. They are considered by residents to be the ‘green lung’ of an otherwise densely developed area.”

6.3    When the Estate was built, Lancaster Green was intended primarily to provide open space for residents of the Tower. However, the new Lancaster Green will offer a very different type of open space that is more public, formally landscaped, with less “green” space, more hard paving and fewer mature trees. It will also be divided in two by a through route. The “quiet area for contemplation” disappears completely.

6.4    No tower block nowadays would receive planning permission without private balconies for each dwelling and we do not believe that planners should condone the dilution of the only piece of green open space available to Grenfell Tower residents as proposed in the KALC application.

  • The plans for Lancaster Green should be revisited to identify some dedicated private open green space for the residents of Grenfell Tower.

7.0    Loss of Social Rented Accommodation

7.1    The demolition of the Council depot includes the loss of three units of social rented accommodation and the KALC SPD offers the following undertaking:  “5.6.5 Should proposals entail the demolition of the existing special care residential units which form part of the Leisure Centre building, replacement housing must be provided. This should be based on the Borough’s housing need at the time of application.”

7.2    We understand that the replacement housing will involve the conversion of part of the lower floor of Grenfell Tower into eight units of social rented accommodation of family size.

  • We wish to see the commitment to eight units of new social rented accommodation in Grenfell Tower written into the planning permission to be assured that this will happen.

8.0    Additional Housing

8.1    The KALC SPD states: “5.6.1 There may be an opportunity for additional housing to be built on the site. This is not a requirement of the Core Strategy and should not compromise the other objectives of this brief.”  And “5.5.4 … any application submitted for the site would need to demonstrate that there would be no harmful impact to residents surrounding the development in terms of loss of sunlight or daylight.”

8.2    The plan for the additional residential element is excessive and out of scale with the rest of the development. It permission is granted, then it should be reduced by at least one storey, since it is higher than the Leisure Centre. It should also be set further back from the road since the block will overlook living and bedrooms in Barlow House opposite, reduce sunlight and daylight and block out the afternoon sunshine that residents of the ground floor dwellings enjoy in their gardens.

8.3    It is disingenuous to suggest that these plans merely restore the original streetscape of Walmer Road. The original streetscape in Walmer Road was lost probably before most of the residents of Barlow House were born and this development would therefore downgrade their residential amenity.

8.4    While we accept that the loss of some open space on the Lancaster West Estate as a consequence of the KALC project is inevitable, there is absolutely no justification whatsoever for the inclusion of the proposed private housing development. The site is very tightly defined and this represents a significant and unacceptable over-intensive development. The Applicant acknowledges that this is already a very constrained site for an Academy alone and the private housing development is not a requirement of the SPD or the Core Strategy.

  • We have the strongest objection to the inclusion of the additional residential block since it represents significant over-development and consequently compromises the SPD planning brief and reduces the residential amenity of Barlow House. We urge that this development be deleted from the KALC project. The site can be used instead for informal play space for the Under 15s.

8.5    We understand that, if planning permission for the residential development is granted, the Council will sell the parcel of land on to a developer with outline planning permission only. We expect that the developer will then inevitably seek permission to increase the residential density to maximise returns and consequently further intensify development on the site.

  • If planning permission is granted for the additional block of residential accommodation, we ask that the planners specify the height (up to four storeys only or the same height as the new Leisure Centre), size and density to preclude any later application to intensify this development.

9.0    The Transport Assessment

The Junction of Lancaster Road and Silchester Road

9.1    Children will approach the Academy from the east at a very dangerous blind bend where Lancaster Road meets Silchester Road – the site of several road fatalities in the past and regular traffic “incidents”. These notwithstanding, it seems that there will be no bollards along this pavement.

  • The road safety and traffic mitigation measures at the junction of Lancaster Road and Silchester Road must be revised and improved.

Restored Through Route to Grenfell Road

9.2    The Equality Impact Assessment of the Key Decision to proceed with the KALC proposal states: “The creation of a new road has raised concerns with residents as it was initially conceived that this would be vehicular. However after consideration, the Council has now stated its preferred option is a pedestrian dominant route which would only be used by pedestrians, cyclists and emergency vehicles.”

9.3    This road was closed off when the Estate was built specifically because of the rat-running problems that it generated and the likely disturbance to residents at night. We do not accept that specifying opening times and installing bollards will address the traffic problems and rat-running that the new road will inevitably generate. Bollards have to be operated by people, they can be damaged and they could be removed at a later date. Two-way traffic in the evenings, night-time and weekends will disturb residents. The southern end of Grenfell Road is anyway too narrow to become a two–way vehicular thoroughfare.

  • Along with the Aldridge Foundation and all the local residents and their associations who responded to the original proposals in the draft SPD, we object to the proposal to restore the original street pattern to create a two-way through road between Silchester Road and Grenfell Road. The traffic management plan for the KALC project should therefore ensure that the through route is configured in such a way as to provide access only for service, school and emergency vehicles and pedestrians and bicycles.

Car and Coach Parking

9.4    A significant amount of car and coach parking will be lost under the KALC proposals. There is scant indication of how and where this will be replaced. Local residents have a particular concern about the likely increased demand for on-street parking in residents’ bays from users of the Leisure Centre, many of whom will be holders of a Kensington and Chelsea resident parking permit.

9.5    The Transport Assessment does not note that car parking for residents of the Estate will be lost from Grenfell Road and not be re-provided, nor acknowledge that the parking spaces beneath Hurstway Walk are to be used for purposes other than parking and so cannot be included in this assessment. The Transport Assessment provides no detail about the proposed coach parking at the Westway Sports Centre and we doubt that this offers a realistic alternative coach parking option.

Additional Through Traffic

9.6    A number of major developments within the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham’s White City Opportunity Area (Imperial West, Helical Bar and Westfield 2) have not included any assessment of their effects on traffic at and beyond the North Pole Road/Wood Lane junction.  Severe congestion and backing up at this junction has already become a daily feature affecting the streets of North Kensington from St. Quintin Avenue onwards. This will inevitably become worse and will generate extra traffic down St. Mark’s Road and onto Lancaster Road and Silchester Road.

  • The Transport Management Plan for KALC and a more realistic Transport Assessment that takes account of all the above concerns must be produced as quickly as possible and the Major Planning Development Committee should disregard the current unrealistic Transport Assessment in its deliberations.

10.0    Air Quality

10.1    The Air Quality Statement assumes that there will be very little increase in traffic by 2014.  However, this assessment does not take into account the consequences of the White City developments, nor whether the Grenfell Road link will be opened for two-way traffic at any time of the day, night or weekends and turn that route into a short cut. The optimistic position set out in the Air Quality Statement must also be tempered by reports that show that air quality in North Kensington is now breaching the EU ozone levels.

  • A new air quality assessment must be undertaken that takes all these matters into account, an updated Air Quality Statement must be produced and the Major Planning Development Committee should disregard the current unrealistic Air Quality Statement in its deliberations.

11.0    Public Art

11.1    We understand that some Section 106 money will be available to provide a piece of “public art” for the KALC development. At the moment the railway bridge undercrofts in Silchester Road immediately next to the Academy are dark, dank and dirty and will not provide a fitting public gateway to the new development. Works to the nearby railway bridges at St. Mark’s Road, Ladbroke Grove and Portobello Road demonstrate what can be done to improve these undercrofts.

  • The Section 106 money for “public art” should be spent instead on improvements to the railway bridge in Silchester Road.

NEXT STEPS

12.0    The Construction Brief

12.1    The Construction Brief must be drawn as tightly as possible to mitigate the disruption, disturbance, dust, noise, pollution and rodent migration that will affect local residents. We have a particular concern for people living along the western side of Verity Close and in Grenfell Tower, at least one of whom is a night worker who needs to sleep during the daytime.

12.2    Regular meetings must be held between the local community and the contractors to ensure that problems are identified and resolved so far as possible and as quickly as possible. A dedicated emergency telephone number must also be available to local residents’ associations.

13.0    The Operation of the Academy

13.1    There are many concerns about how the Academy will operate and how it will impact upon Estate and the wider local neighbourhood. For example, there has been much discussion about the dispersal of pupils at the end of the school day. If this is staggered, the effects will be drawn out and some pupils are bound to remain in the neighbourhood unsupervised, waiting for friends or siblings. Conversely, if dispersal is one-off, there will be a much shorter, albeit far greater disturbance, which residents will be able to anticipate and which may be easier to manage.

13.2    There are also many other concerns about the  day-to-day operation of the school and it is regrettable that the Aldridge Foundation has not engaged at an earlier stage with the local community to listen to and address residents’ many worries. This has undoubtedly generated more myths about and more hostility towards the KALC project than might otherwise have occurred.

14.0    Variations from the KALC SPD

14.1    We note the following variations from the KALC SPD but have no comments to make on them:

1.     “5.1.11 In order to comply with Core Strategy Policy CE1: Climate Change, the new school must demonstrate a high level of sustainability in design, construction and operation. The Council will require the school to …  become part of a District Heat Network. In order to achieve this, a CCHP facility might be included as part of the development. However, in light of the constraints of the site, this may be located elsewhere in the area, possibly as part of a new leisure centre.”

2.     “5.4.7 To ensure that the streetscape of the area is of the highest quality, the new connections and additional footways must be constructed using York stone and granite. Whilst the Council acknowledge that the initial cost of this is likely to be higher, the hardwearing nature of this material will ultimately prove more cost effective than other surfacing. Streetscape improvements must have regard to the Royal Borough’s Streetscape Guide.”

CONCLUSIONS

15.0    The ward councillors broadly support the planning application, subject to the following objections, concerns and reservations:

1. We wish to have sight of the school’s proposed noise mitigation measures as quickly as possible.

2. We have the strongest objection to the loss of informal outdoor play space and ask the planners to identify some open space that can be set aside as an informal outdoor play space for the Under 15 resident children of the Estate.

3. The plans for Lancaster Green should be revisited to identify some dedicated private open green space for the residents of Grenfell Tower.

4. We wish to see the commitment to eight units of new social rented accommodation in Grenfell Tower written into the planning permission to be assured that this will happen.

5. We have the strongest objection to the inclusion of the additional residential block since it represents significant over-development and consequently compromises the SPD planning brief and reduces the residential amenity of Barlow House. We urge that this development be deleted from the KALC project. The site can be used instead for informal play space for the Under 15s.

6. If planning permission for the additional block of residential accommodation is granted, we ask that the planners specify the height (up to four storeys only or the same height as the new Leisure Centre), size and density to preclude any later application to intensify this development.

7. The road safety and traffic mitigation measures at the junction of Lancaster Road and Silchester Road must be revised and improved.

8. Along with the Aldridge Foundation and all the local residents and their associations who responded to the original proposals in the draft SPD, we object to the proposal to restore the original street pattern to create a two-way through road between Silchester Road and Grenfell Road. The traffic management plan for the KALC project should therefore ensure that the through route is configured in such a way as to provide access only for service, school and emergency vehicles and pedestrians and bicycles.

9. The Transport Management Plan for KALC and a more realistic Transport Assessment that takes account of all the above concerns must be produced as quickly as possible and the Major Planning Development Committee should disregard the current unrealistic Transport Assessment in its deliberations.

10. A new air quality assessment must be undertaken that takes all these matters into account, an updated Air Quality Statement must be produced and the Major Planning Development Committee should disregard the current unrealistic Air Quality Statement in its deliberations.

11. The Section 106 money for “public art” should be spent instead on improvements to the railway bridge in Silchester Road.

16.0    Major Planning Development Committee

16.1    We formally request the opportunity to address the Major Planning Development Committee on our objections, reservations and concerns and to answer questions as required.

Councillors Judith Blakeman and Todd Foreman
Notting Barns Ward
13 August 2012

NB. Cllr. Robert Atkinson did not contribute to the creation of this document as he is a member of the Major Planning Development Committee, which will decide the Planning Application, and he is consequently precluded from any prior discussion of the application.