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Thursday, 31 March 2016


The Officers are deeply embarrassed about being shown up by Cllr Mackover  for being inept and/or otherwise, in their dealings with Savills, who had obtained the "magic letter" as part of the secret pre-application process, (see letter from Officers to Savills on the Council website). 
Cllr Mackover put on his big boots and went to the site with his tape measure and found the "irregularity". It's all HERE

Officers quietly wrote a report recommending retrospective approval that was not publicised but approved at the 8th March Planning Meeting (Cllr Warwick was Chairman at the meeting ). 
But conditions were draconian.

The report came clean and said that the odious Fairholme had dug a basement 1.6 metres longer than originally approved in 2013 and 400 cm deeper than approved. 
The conditions for retrospective approval include:
(i) the basement has to be shortened. The back wall must be demolished and a new wall built to conform with the 50% garden rule
(ii) a Chartered Engineer must be appointed at Fairholme's cost to supervise the work
(iii) a Stop Order on further work until the Chartered Engineer is appointed
(iv) the East European 'boys' who replaced Cranbrook must join the Considerate Contractors scheme before work re-starts
It was hushed up because Cllr Mackover did not want to rub the noses of the Officers in the basement's dirt. 
Or, possibly, Cllr Warwick made sure the whole thing was suppressed. 
The knives are out for the good Councillor Mackover. 
We should give him a puff as a hero of the people.

Another political disaster for Warwick and his crowd - they just do not understand that it is dangerous to attempt to manipulate public opinion. 
If they screwed up, the most powerful thing they can do is say immediately after the meeting "we screwed up: it won't happen again"


  1. Surely, he might qualify for some kind of 'people's award', to be presented at a well publicized public event...

  2. In a less toadying Town Hall, the knives would be out for other councillors. Take out two Tory turnips beginning with 'W' and work backwards.

    1. It is extraordinary that the Council does not issue any penalty or public criticsm to Borough residents and businesses that peddle in lies. Mr Fairholme should be "outed" for preparing plans that were clearly deigned to hide the truth and Savills should be banned from the Town Hall because they presented such plans on behalf of their client Fairholme. Both parties are unfit for Kensington and both parties need to be exposed for what they are. Liars and vagabonds.

    2. Objector to Fairholme's Basement31 March 2016 at 16:24

      When I called the Planning Department to find out what was going on I was told that the matter could not be discussed because there was "a discrepancy".

      What a way to build public confidence!

  3. Well done to Councillor Mackover for doing the right thing for the Borough. If only there were more Councillors that put the welfare of the Borough ahead of the inner-workings of Hornton Street. I should hope that he will be lauded for his contributions by others in Hornton Street. Much can be learned from this example.

  4. Person Familiar With The Situation31 March 2016 at 16:02

    Cllr Warwick did his best to bury the story and appears to have been working hand in glove with the errant Officers - whose report was never published on the Council website and reserved for the meeting itself. A pathetic cover up.

    Fairholme's basement at 32 Abingdon Villas (and the bombshell report) was Agenda Item 1 at the Planning Meeting on 8th March. The Evening Standard was tipped off and their reporters turned up at the Town Hall at 6.30pm. But devious Warwick put the item back to last on the Agenda and it was heard after 10 pm. Most people have better things to do with their lives than Hornton Street late at night and the hacked off journalists were long gone.

    Reptile Warwick may think that he hushed up the scandal but the odious Councillor instead put another nail in the coffin of democracy that we all pay for in Hornton Street.

    It is time for Leader Paget-Brown to take charge of his sinking ship.

    1. Kensington Tory31 March 2016 at 18:52

      Everyone needs to be very clear. The Director of Planning was alerted in the summer of 2015 that an illegal basement was being built by Mr Fairholme at 32 Abingdon Villas. Mr Stallwood received a letter from the CEO of Cranbrook which outlined clearly that an illegal basement was being constructed. The Planning Director chose to ignore this information.

      It was only due to the fuss made by the Dame and her hornets early in 2016 that the case was exposed in public and Cllr Mackover decided to make his own investigation.

      Clearly Officers are marching to a tune that has nothing to do with listening to residents or being mindful of their wishes.

    2. Brown envelopes?

    3. Fly On The Wall31 March 2016 at 19:03

      It was a pathetic line of Councillors at the Planning Meeting on 8th March. Chairman Cllr Warrick and Cllr Marshall are both noted for their supreme disinterest and antagonism towards residents. Cllr Elizabeth Rutherford never knows what time of day it is. And the Labour member, Cllr Bakhtiar was sidelined as usual by the Tory Group. New Cllr Eve Allison (with all her North Kensington common sense and instinct) is given no time by her fellow Tory toffs and wannabe toffs.

      Cllr Warriick did his usual trick of instructing the Tory Group how to vote before the meeting and stated that he would use Chairman's privilege to bury the story by making the item the last point on the Agenda.

      Pass the sick bag, Dame

  5. Retired Chief Executive31 March 2016 at 16:08

    It is a sign of corrupt and decaying organisations when behaviour like this is exhibited - run for cover, hide the truth, manipulate the system. A pattern that I never tolerated.

    Leaders need to be big enough to stand up and admit their mistakes. Their reputation and authority always increases enormously.

    But beware. The opposite pattern of behaviour is often a sign of corruption and dishonesty. The role of Savills and their presentation of dishonest plans to the Council, subsequently endorsed by Officers, needs to be investigated and a report prepared by an independent person. Council Tax payers deserve no less.

    1. Savills was caught with their pants down. As usual, they thought that they were having a secret meeting with their mates in the Planning Department and did not expect any public record of their discussions and cosy understanding.

      But after years of protest by the Knsington Society against the secret pre application meetings the Council finally caved in and agreed to publish a record of previously secret undertakings. Savills was the first to come under the spotlight. And what a story! Well done Amanda Frame and the Kensington Society for creating a little transparency in the thoroughly corrupt and disreputable Hornton Street Planning Department.

  6. Campden Hill Resident31 March 2016 at 16:16

    I feel very encouraged that we have public servants like Cllr Mackover who are prepared to go out on a limb and make sure that the right thing is done.

  7. Respected builder Cranbrook Basements was fired by Mr Fairholme because (according to the CEO of Cranbrook) they refused to dig the oversize basement at 32 Abingdon Villas that did not have planning approval.

    A condition precedent of the Planning Approval was that the project should be carried by a contractor who is a member of the Considerate Contractors Scheme.

    After firing Cranbrook, Fairholme employed some cut price East European crowd who promptly exhibited a brand new "Member of the Considerate Contractors Scheme" outside the site. It seems that this was another example of lies and deception in this project. The Council has insisted that the Eastern boys get their act together and do whatever is required to qualify for the scheme.

    Rats nest.

  8. Abingdon Villas Residnet (Mrs)31 March 2016 at 18:47

    I am so relieved to hear this news. I attended the meeting on 8th March and sat through it right to the end. When the basement at 32 Abingdon Villas came up, right at the end, I was hoping for the illegal basement to be rejected by the Councillors. But there was no discussion. Just some muttering and the Officers report was approved unanimously. I had only seen the report on the website recommending approval and assumed that the basement was approved. I was so distressed and did not sleep all night. What is the point of trusting our Council, I thought.

  9. The real hero of this story is Cllr Mackover who had the balls to ignore the Officers report and go out on a limb to prove what a thoroughly discredited and dishonest game Officers had participated in.

    Piggy regularly blurts that his planning Officers are unfairly criticised by residents. The silly man needs to study cases like this very carefully. If he wants to maintain any kind of credibility with his residents he should set up an impartial inquiry into why a retrospective application for an illegal basement was recommended by Officers.

    (i) Why did the Planning Director take no action in August 2015 when he was told that an illegal basement was being built at 32 Abingdon Villas?
    (ii) Why did Savills present a dishonest plan to Officers in October 2015
    (iii) Why did Savills not take steps to verify the accuracy of the plan that they presented to Council?
    (iv) Why does the Council not verify the accuracy of plans?
    (v) Why did Officers fail to take account of the resident outcry about what was going on?
    (vi) Why were the written resident objections to the retrospective approval edited and censored by Officers before publication on the Council website?
    (vii) Why was it acceptable for Cllr Warrick to attempt to bury the scandal by moving discussion from Item 1 to the last Item on the Agenda of the Planning Meeting on 8th March?
    (viii) Why was the revised Officer's report not published on the Council website in order to keep residents informed?

  10. Not many willing to stand up to the sedate

  11. This case is an unfortunate example of inept and corrupt local Government.

    Basement approvals are running at more than 400 per year in Kensington and Chelsea and it is the number one local issue for residents. When developers like Mr Fairholme dig bigger basements than approved, as he did at 32 Abingdon Villas, then the Council should give maximum publicity to enforcement action in order to send out a signal to other developers. Cllr Warrick made certain that there was no publicity and the whole scandal was hushed up.

    Local residents complained to the Council for over a year about the illegal nature of Mr Fairholme's basement but the Council refused to take action. It was only when the Evening Standard blew the lid off the illegal activity that the Council was forced to back track and insist that Mr Fairholme should reduce the size of his basement.

    Why does it require months of sweat and tears from residents, reinforced by the Dame and the Evening Standard, to get action out of Hornton Street?

    The Planning Department is inefficient and corrupt. And a conspiracy against residents.

    1. Owl had a bad night

  12. My Mate The Builder1 April 2016 at 07:58

    Developers have no respect or fear of the Council Planning Department. They routinely run rings around the planners (starting with Savill type meetings in Hornton Street) and then fearlessly build illegal structures regardless of the rules and regulations.

    When he was caught out at 32 Abingdon Villas Mr Fairholme was so confident that he would get away with it that he told the Evening Standard "my builder built an illegal basement and I found out about it too late".

    Pull the other one, mate

  13. For The Record1 April 2016 at 08:09

    On 11th August 2015 Kevin O'Connor, the Managing Director of Cranbrook Baesments, wrote to Mr Fairholme and said:

    "Please confirm that the agreed plans within the Party Wall Awards have received planning consent from RBKC"

    Mr Fairholme then fired Cranbrook Basements as his builder.

    The new builders are called "Sunshine Construction".

    You could not make it up.

    1. The current builder is Rainbow Construction

  14. It is not all bad news. There is usually someone around (in this case Cllr Sam Mackover) who wades in and breaks some egg shells.

    Always good to see a force for good. It should be celebrated.

  15. The world is full of rogues and vagabonds. And spivs who feed off the dung heap. In this example we have seen Fairholme and Savills exposed for what they are. Named and shamed.

    Long live the Dame!

  16. The Dames's Investigator1 April 2016 at 11:06

    The Council does not understand how to administer the planning process. It is a highly tuned box ticking bureaucracy.

    As part of the retrospective approval for the illegal basement at 32 Abingdon Villas, the Council required the owner, Mr Fairholme, to appoint a Chartered Engineer to make sure that corrective measures are taken. The box tickers do not understand that this engineer will have no teeth if he is appointed by Mr Fairholme, paid by Mr Fairholme and reports to Mr Fairholme. A joke? Of course. But the box gets ticked.

    It gets worse.

    Mr Fairholme has appointed Pringeur-James as the engineer to take corrective action. The same engineer that oversaw the building of the illegal basement.

    You could not make it up.

  17. Cllr Mackover is a shining example to other Councillors of how an elected representative should behave. I was present at the Town Hall when the Grenfell Tower victims gave evidence to the Scrutiny Committee about the abuse that they had experienced at the hands of the TMO.
    While other Councillors looked bored and disinterested Cllr Mackover stood out by asking pertinent questions and showing that he actually cared about what had happened to RBKC residents.
    While Cllr Marshall (Chair) was busy trying to cover the whole sordid business up Cllr Mackover stood up for abused residents and demanded that a Working Party be set up to investigate complaints.
    The rest of the Council could learn a lot from the upstanding morals of Cllr Mackover.

  18. This is unbelievable. Not only did they build an illegal basement, but starting building it before the necessary Cmtp and tree protection had been discharged. The reason given (or excuse) for why it was at the last minute withdrawn from the original planning meeting it was to be heard at was because the planning officers report had incorrectly stated in planning history that one of the many previous planning applications had been granted when in fact it had been refused). I don't understand why fairholme is not being hit with a large fine. It really makes you wonder how many other basements are being built larger and deeper than approved. Does anyone from the councils planning department go and actually check

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