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Sunday, 19 October 2014


From the Kensington Society


Basements on hold until the end of the year

The Council announced today, 17thOctober, that it will not be determining applications for development proposals which include subterranean development, and such proposals will not be reported to the Planning Applications Committee, unless there are site specific material considerations which make this appropriate or they comply with the current Core Strategythe existing SPD and the emerging policy.

This is big news following over a year of consultations on a new basement policy.

Initially the residents were very excited that there would be tighter controls over basement construction. However, the planning department position remained that until approved it would not take into consideration the emerging policy.  Following two consultations the Council revised the policy which was sent to the Planning Inspectorate in April and which went to the Examination in Public held last month. Meanwhile the basement contractors mounted a strong campaign to persuade people to apply for deep basements over the proposed 50% of the garden restriction.  Both the public and the Councillors on the Planning Applications Committee were frustrated to find that the draft policy would not be considered as an reason for refusal and the PAC Councillors were advised that the applications could not be refuse.  The result was the approval of a series of large double basements. 

As the draft policy has now gone through successive stages of the approval process, it should have been given more weight, although the degree of objection and any uncertainty about the likely outcome must also be a consideration. Having nearly reached the end of the process – we are expecting the Inspector’s report on the Examination by late December – the Council has now proposed to hold off making any decisions on basement applications until they are clear what the future policy will be. This should ensure that there is some consistency in the decisions made on cases to be decided in the next few months and that no one would have grounds for complaint.

In other words, if the new policy is accepted basements will be limited to 50% of the garden, to one level and not under listed buildings.  However, if the policy is not accepted all the applications which are held in abeyance will be determined in line with the revised policy whatever that is.

So it could be good news, but watch this space!

17 October 2014


  1. Progress is painfully slow. But one should not underestimate the determination that is required to turn around the Planning Department in Hornton Street and the handful of Councillors who are in the pockets of the property developers. It seems that a concerted effort is underway to clean up the corruption. The Dame has been in the vanguard of the attack ably assisted by Cllr Coates, ex Cllr Mosley, James Thompson, Amanda Frame, Cllr Mills, ex Cllr Buckmaster, and many others who are working away in the background. The Director of Planning (Mr Bore) has been eased out and the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Planning Committee (Cllr Warwick and Cllr Mackover) are not long for this world. Cllr Mills and Officer Stallwood are in the wings already.

    1. This has come too late for the 2000 residents and their families in Kensington and Chelsea who have already been subjected to the horror of huge subterranean excavations, with noise, disturbance, damaged properties and filth lasting for two years every time. Sometimes more.

    2. What an understated comment from 9.17. The typical experience is more than one basement hell over successive years. Mr Sternberg in Claireville Street has had to endure seven basement excavations by immediate neighbours in the last five years.

    3. The Kensington Society is being rather feeble in going along with the "basements on hold" statement from the Town Hall. Not good enough Amanda - we want to hear a war cry.

      Is the Kensington Society getting too close to the "great and the good" in Hornton Street?

  2. The "wet" in this whole saga is Cllr Coleridge, Cabinet Member for Planning. Tim has failed to grasp the opportunity to spearhead a major concern of residents and pursue change. Instead he chose to sit on the sidelines and ring his hands. The Royal Borough needs better public servants than this

    1. There is an even bigger "wet" than Coleridge. Kensington MP Malcom Rifkind is more like a flood. He has chosen to do nothing to take up his residents' concerns about basements other than sign an Early Day Motion (sponsored by Labour MP Karen Buck) to outlaw the evil.

      Sir Malcolm needs to take a few lessons from nearby Tory MP, Greg Hands, about how a good constituency MP conducts himself.

      What a total waste of space we have for an MP.

    2. Rifkind is WAY PAST his "sell by" date

  3. Person Familiar With The Situation20 October 2014 at 10:17

    The great mystery in this whole saga of basements is the Leader of the Council. Cllr Paget-Brown is playing his cards very close to his chest. Resident after resident has been to see him to ask for action and the response is always "this is new to me". His own Councillors have spoken out in private and in public. Cllr Mills wrote a withering critique of Hornton Street planning to her fellow Tory Councilors. This was followed up by Mayor Buckmaster - another devastating written analysis of the sheer hopelessness of Mr Bore's Juggernaut. Resident clamouring for the heads of Warwick and Mackover have so far been ignored even after the recent, devastating, presentation by Cllr Sir Anthony Coates to the Leader and Cabinet Member for Planning (Cllr Coleridge). With forensic perfection Coates outlined the abuse of law and process by the Planning Department and put on record that residents have lost faith in the Chairman of the Planning Committee who has "no credibility whatsoever". It seems that property developers have the Royal Borough in their pockets.

  4. Rifkind does nothing for anyone or anything except his own ego. The suggestion that the Executive Director of Planning has been "eased out," is interesting. When seeking the villains in Planning, the search should include certain well placed officers whose records do not bear close scrutiny. As for Paget Brown, his attempts at the Machiavellian, repeatedly fail.

    On the other hand the Kensington Society has doggedly pursued basements and other planning issue for years. It deserves residents' thanks for this and so much else. So does the Dame. Since her arrival on the political scene, Hornton Street has lost it's nerve and has now started to crumble. Disintegration gathers pace.

    1. It is an absolute scandal that we elect and pay an MP, Malcolm Rifkind, to be the highest paid non Executive Director (many positions) in the House of Commons and established armchair strategist on the Today Programme. What we need and what we want is a constituency MP. Not a freeloader and trougher

  5. I would just like to say a HUGE THANK YOU to all of the dedicated souls from The Kensington Society, Markham Square Association, Ladbroke Square, James Thompson (and the many, many, many more of you who know who you are) for all you have done. As residents, we are eternally grateful for the dedication, patience and resolve you have shown. Not only have you put up with the silliness of the RBKC Planning Department, but you have stood firm in the face of the ridiculously selfish basement companies and high paid lawyers who have tried to derail what is an obvious and fair improvement to a woefully unsatisfactory policy on basements.

    If there is a higher power, the Inspectorate will fully sanction this policy. And the basement developers will respect the will of the Borough residents they have been tormenting for so many years, go away and hopefully find more honourable pursuits.

  6. While supporting 20.06, it's unfortunate that RBKC's Planning Department is described as "silly." Mere silliness would hardly matter. There are honest exceptions of course, but RBKC Planning includes a substantial clique of officers representing developers' interests, against those of the public. Officers who object to dubious practice are generally forced out. Dubious officers and dubious councillors are a toxic mix.

  7. A friend says ... this looks promising although it will probably run for at least 5 years yet, with the tidal wave of permissions already granted.

    The comment suggesting "2 years or more" years of disruption after work starts, was wildly optimistic. In the 2 decades of my association here on Campden Hill Road the process has been continuous. ( Observatory Gardens: Academy Gardens: 5, then 3 Upper Phillimore Gardens and Lucy (Ferry) Birley's house In that time:- Our cars have been battered by unseen contractors' / their delivery vehicles; builders' spillage (puncture materials carelessly dumped in the streets; wrappers, drinks cans/cartons and general break-time detritus); damaged paviors and bollards where over-sized wagons mount the pavements; a rolling suspension of over 50% of residents parking bays, ….. and on and on.

    There are many more building trades employees milling around Campden Hill and the Phillimores during working hours than there are residents, and they tend to be much more careless.

    And I add that we knew all this already - the real scandal here is the industrial scale of corruption which allowed this to happen in the first place. Someone should blow the roof off Hornton Street.

  8. There's also the potential for long term and very serious damage to nearby homes They tend to move, so develop cracks over time. London houses traditionally have very shallow foundations. They are built on clay that swells or shrinks depending on water content. So the houses rise and fall in unison with the weather.

    The huge new concrete basements are both heavy and rigid. They displace water towards neighbouring homes and do not move. Consequently long after construction is over, neighbouring houses continue to be damaged by the gross disruption of the underlying clay. There are new surface water flooding issues as well as greater long term risks from major floods. The real scandal is that the Planning Department wilfully ignores all these long term problems for residents.

  9. Kensington Resident21 October 2014 at 19:55

    The lead that has been so ably given by Cllr Coates needs to be supported by other Tory Councillors who should insist on change and be determined that "NO" is not answer that will be tolerated. Cllr Paget-Brown, take note.

    Already the Coutfield councilors (Marshall and E Rutherford) are 200% behind Cllr Coates and also distinguished ex Councillor Tony Holt. There is a strong belief that in the days of Cockell and Moylan they were both so busy with their outside jobs that they left the running of our council to the officers who now expect to run the ship without interference from Councillors. An intolerable state of affairs in a democracy.


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