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Tuesday, 2 May 2017


A break from the hurly burly of daily politics......
This reader who wishes to remain anonymous has made this observation upon the Kensington Society's letter to members.


Dear Dame,

Please see below an email sent to members of the Kensington Society. My comments: 
  • the Kensington Society have not opposed the planning application. 
  • The Kensington Society have not consulted their members. 
  • The double basement is as we know against current RBK&C planning policy. 
  • The Kensington Society have suggested a meeting well after the date for final receipt of objections from residents. 
  • Since when are the Kensington Society the spokesman for Historic Royal Palaces? 
  • Are the Kensington Society worried about their gongs?

These are only my thoughts - but I wish to be anonymous.

Tuesday 16 May in the Orangery at Kensington Palace at 10am. Please RSVP to
Dear Members,

There has been much in the press about
the planning application by
Historic Royal Palaces for works to and
 behind the grade I listed Orangery.  It seems the
“fake news” has been at work and
many of the objections have been incorrect. 
What is true is the application is for a double basement. 
What is not true is the works are for the benefit of the royal family. 
Also not true is the basement will be under the Orangery. 
The works will be funded through the royal palaces
charity and not by tax payers.  
The planning committee of the
Kensington Society has met with the
representatives of the palace. 
Following an in-depth review of both the plans as well as the 
current offices within the palace, we felt it would
be helpful to anyone who is concerned
or opposed to the application meet with
the representatives and voice their objections. 
The society’s planning committee agreed
that it would be best for our members to
form their own educated opinion.

At our suggestion, we have received the following invitation:

Dear Kensington Society Members
It is with great pleasure that Historic Royal Palaces
would like to extend an invitation to you to hear more
about our plans for the Orangery Yard building,
conservation of the Orangery and our
new garden design at Kensington Palace.
We would be delighted if you could join us for an
informal breakfast where we will discuss our plans
with you on Tuesday 16 May in the Orangery
at Kensington Palace at 10am.
Please RSVP to

You can find out more about our planning application on our website at

Rhiannon Goddard MA (RCA), AMA
Palace Programme Sponsor



  1. Staggering. Absolute staggering. It is the job of the Kensington Society to represent its members, who pay an annual subscription. They should have taken a position before the closing date for consultation which passed on 28th April. They should have pointed out that the application is against the rules. And opposed it. Simple.

    But the Patron of KS is the Duke of Gloucester, grace and favour tenant at the Palace. The Committee caved in. They like their Royal tea parties and opportunities to rub shoulders.


  2. What is the point of this breakfast meeting? The time for comment has passed. The Kensington Society Committee is playing games with its membership

    1. Fly On The Wall2 May 2017 at 19:35

      KS has lost its way. This week they also mailed the membership promoting a weekend entertainment at Imperial College. What on earth does this have to do with the KS? Perhaps a member of the Committee has a child at the college......

      Third world behaviour

  3. The Chair of the Society is a social climber extraordinary. Will do anything for a Royal favour.......

  4. A pale imitation of Pamela Harriman. Know what I mean?

  5. KS supported the Newcombe House development despite numerous objections from residents. Even the Planning Committee rejected it. Is KS part of the establishment? Power corrupts. What happened to Napoleon in Animal Farm?

  6. Kensington Society really have slumped to the gutter calling genuine residents' concerns fake news who have put their head above the parapet.

    Claiming objections are "Fake news" is disgraceful. Did not know this was a double basement until now. Time for social unrest by not paying the council tax.

  7. Member of the Kensington Society3 May 2017 at 06:42

    The Council deadline (28th April) for comment has passed. Why did is there no comment from the Kensington Society?

    1. The train already left the station. Historic Palaces, a publicly funded body, is wasting its time and tax payers money. And attempting to waste the time of Kensington Society members.

      It is another example of Kensington Society trustees angling for "breakfast at the Palace". And hoping that Will could be wheeled out for a sighting - assuming that he is not disco dancing the night before

  8. Fake news?

    A double basement in the middle of a London Park. A huge hole more than 170 feet long which will take two years to dig and empty with huge dump trucks entering and leaving the park at the rate of twenty every day.

    What is the fake news?

    1. That the basement is UNDER the Orangery - it is not. The Orangery and the soil beneath it is untouched.

  9. Person Familiar With The Situation3 May 2017 at 09:40

    The Kenisngton Society is run by ambitious American, Amanda Frame and her husband. The two have worked hard over the years to establish the Society as an influential voice in the Planning Department of the Town Hall and they have grown the stature of the organisation by affiliating with 29 local Resident Groups and persuaded Royalty (The Duke of Gloucester) to be the Society's patron. All of this is a laudable achievement.

    The Constitution states that the object of the Society is "protecting, preserving and improving Kensington's buildings and open spaces" for the benefit of its membership.

    As with all powerful personalities in organisations without checks and balances, the Frames have been allowed to run out of control. Seduced by the opportunities of office they have attempted to try their hand at power broking, selling the idea of influence in the Town Hall as the basis for negotiating with developers and Royal Palaces. Exciting for them but wrong headed for the membership. The Kensington Society is not a go between. Rubbing shoulders and peddling influence with movers and shakers is not what it should be about.

    Twice in the last six months this new self indulgent strategy has resulted in the Society going against the interests of its membership (Newcombe House and the Orangery).

    It is time for change in the high command at Kensington Society. Thomas Blomberg is a possible new Chairman. But difficult to step into the shoes of an over bearing personality like Amanda Frame. Something that could work is a redistribution of power with the President playing a bigger role.

    1. Struth - a Yank? That shows for gullible the KS members are, unable to elect one of their ilk to the position. Time to move them on... Suggestion: dear friends cancel your direct debits...

  10. "Funded through Royal Palaces Charity". Who contributes these funds? Who is paying to triple the floor space of the Orangery?

    What will happen to the floor space in the main Palace building that is vacated? Who will pay to refurbish this? Who will pay the new staff and maintenance costs?

    Perhaps the Kensington Society would like to answer these questions.........

    1. The plans published here recently, clearly show the double basement UNDER the ORANGERY... so why all this nonsense that it is somewhere else?

    2. If you examine this Section from the Planning Application you will see that the basement is NOT under the Orangery, which is untouched.

  11. The shuffle starts. The next claim will be that a double basement is not really a double basement........

    And 10.40 conveniently "forgets" that part of the Orangery will be demolished to make space for something that is twice its size. But of course "this is not really the Orangery", just a collection of lean to's that someone absent mindedly added on when no one was looking.

    And what about the Traffic Management Plan? 20 lorries every day for two years driving in and out of the park (remember this is supposed to be peace and recreation space in a busy City) on one or both of two main pedestrian roads in the park?

    All of this for more entertainment facilities and or space for the free loading Royals. Foreigners coming to be entertained or Royals expanding their footprint. Which ever way it is, this has nothing to do with the preservation of peaceful free space for London taxpayers!

    1. One giant hole for Kensington, one giant step for the Windsors.

    2. The question I addressed was solely whether the basement was 'under the Orangery', by any definition of 'under' it is not.

      Shows the existing situation. None of the buildings to the rear are 'lean to', they are all clear of the Orangery apart from a small corridor connection from the kitchen - they are a mish-mash of random ugly modern constructions which no one could seriously promote as architecturally significant or environmentally valuable.

  12. Dear "Person Familiar With The Situation" (which you're obviously not)

    1) Amanda Frame has been a trustee of The Kensington Society since 2003, and In 2008 she became the chairman, i.e. nine years ago.

    2) Her British husband became a trustee in 2011 and was mainly brought in to sort out the society's finances, being a chartered accountant and former finance director of a FTSE 250 company.

    3) The society has had a royal patron since 1970, i.e. for almost 50 years, starting with Princess Alice. When she died in 1981, the Duke of Gloucester agreed to take over the role of patron. So he had held it for 22 years when Mrs Frame became a trustee and for 27 years when she became the chairman.

    4) The constitution of the society (adopted in 2010) states that its objects "shall be to preserve and improve the amenities of Kensington for the public benefit by stimulating interest in its history and records, promoting good architecture and planning in its future development and by protecting, preserving and improving its buildings, open spaces and other features of beauty or historic or public interest." Please note the the word "improving". Ensuring that Kensington Palace, can continue its function as the most important tourist attraction in the borough, means that it needs to improve the facilities for the staff that handles close to half a million visitors per year, as they today are extremely cramped in various rooms spread all over the palace. Also, giving the Orangery a proper kitchen and decent customer toilets that can accommodate people in wheelchairs is equally important. That's what the planned extension to the Orangery is for. The lower floor of the basement will mainly house air conditioning units for the Orangery and the extension, as such unites can't be positioned on the roof.

    5) Kensington Society has no obligation to object to everything, nor must it consult with its members before taking a decision regarding a planning issue. Members are free to voice their objections to anything the trustees do or don't do, but nobody voiced any criticism either at this year's AGM or last year's over the society's decision to support the Newcombe House plans - probably because most members understood the society's reason for doing so.

    Kensington Society has become an influential body in the borough durting the last ten years, feared by many developers and largely respected by the council and its officers. The main reason for this is that it doesn't just object but also tries to negotiate and persuade in order to achieve its objects.

    1. If you think that members did not object to the KS role in the Newcombe House fiasco you are smoking something. Did you attend the Inspector's Appeal Hearing in the Town Hall? Are you deaf? Or blind? Or maybe both?

    2. More fake news in the Hornet. Pathetic.

    3. Clear The Swamp3 May 2017 at 15:41

      Stennson, perhaps you can tell us why the Kensington Society did not write a letter of objection or a letter of support to the Planning Department for the Orangery plus basement. It is clear that the Society has taken a massive interest in the matter, even fixing up breakfast meetings with courtiers at the Palace.

  13. Thanks to the Dame, readers now know who the Chairman of the Kensington Society is. And there is also a Royal patron who happens to live rent free in Kensington Palace.

    These facts may or may not have a bearing on how the Society has chosen to conduct itself in the matter of the Orangery.

  14. Dear Mr Stetson
    Any Society that loses sight of its membership implodes. It is a basic rule of politics. Think Corbyn.

    In recent years the KS has been on a "high". In the last few months the Brand has been severely damaged. Patrons worth their salt should attend to these matters.

    1. The trustees need to take a lead.

  15. We Too Have A Voice3 May 2017 at 15:38

    There is a coalition of forces currently at work that wish to turn central London into a giant Disney World interspaced between high blocks of luxury flats left empty by their wealthy foreign owners.

    The Kensington Society seems to think that the Orangery needs to expand in order to cater for more visitors, according to its spokesman Mr Stennson.

    But Londoners have had enough of this short sighted commercialization. Hyde Park is already blighted by pop concerts, fun fairs, the 24/7 food fair at Kensington Palace, and other commercial ventures. Parks are supposed to be a haven of peace for city dwellers. But their very beauty and central location has become a beacon for uncontrolled commercial forces to blight our lives.

    Mr Stennson and his trustees should be ashamed of themselves.

    1. Quite right We Too Have A Voice, so much of London and the borough have been destroyed for those who are not native to this city or country, neither pay tax nationally or locally but residents and local shopkeepers are the ones to suffer and pay the price.

      The likes of the Odeon Kensington, Marlborough School and Earls Court Exhibition Centre all gone for private profit with the connivance of the planning department, councillors and English Heritage (now Historic England).

      Throughout Kensington Chelsea potholes are rampant this is down to constant HGVs going in out of the borough, but we see no action from the council.

    2. But the Odeon and the Exhibition Centre were both built to generate private profit! When your investment has ceased to be profitable you replace it with something new that will be. It's called 'Capitalism' - it's the system we've had for the last 200? years - you shouldn't be surprised.

    3. Dear Fan of Capitalism
      Unbridled capitalism is not in the interest of society. It needs to be controlled.

      The Odeon served the needs of residents by providing entertainment. The Exhibition Center provided an opportunity to showcase products and services.

      Both will be replaced by super luxury empty flats where rich foreigners park dirty money. This drives up house prices, drives out workers and there is no spending in the shops which will wither and close.

      When capitalism serves society, this is good. When society exists to serve capitalism, this is bad.

      Our legislators in Kensington are not doing their job. The current crowd in Hornton Street are not up to it.

      Yours sincerely

      Fan of responsible capitalism

    4. Oh - I'm no fan of capitalism, I was just pointing out how it works, and that one shouldn't be surprised. The OP seemed to have not realised that two of his examples only existed in the first place to make private profit.

    5. now we see A level students of economics spouting on the Hornet. pathetic

    6. Nothing wrong with private profit Mr Capitlist. A thoroughly good thing. But it needs to be responsible profit. Its why we invented democracy.

    7. 23:39 Talking out your backside Odeon and Earls Court were profitable now look at all the shops that have lost custom because of these two venues destruction.

      Your view of Capitalism is vulgar and chavvy just like you!

  16. Reading through this enlightening blog about what the Palace and their friends are trying to get away with, 10.40 says that the basement is "not under the Orangery". This sounds like the Kensington Society playing with rules to try and claim that the whole double basement hole does not contravene the SL7 rule.

    If the Planning Department goes along with this sycophancy it will create a dangerous precedent. Every Kensington and Chelsea Mansion wanting to dig a basement will apply for a double or triple basement behind their mansion, attached to a single basement under the mansion, and claim that the double or triple basement has nothing to do with the house.

    The Kensington Society forgets the intention of the legislation, which is to limit noise and nuisance for neighbours and the public. Perhaps the KS has lost sight of its purpose and is prepared to compromise in order to curry favour with the rich and influential.

    1. We Should Be Told5 May 2017 at 08:54

      It is clear as shit that the society is peddling furiously in the background to support a double basement for the Orangery

    2. You are wrong - I am not associated with the Kensington Society and I have only now read Policy CL7 - but I am interested in the truth. The general impression seems to be that the basement will be 'under the Orangery' with all the implication of desecration and structural danger this implies. It is not - it is adjoining the Orangery, which is untouched - both it and the soil beneath it.

      I have examined CL7 which says inter alia:

      Policy CL 7
      The Council will require all basement
      development to:
      b. not comprise more than one storey.
      Exceptions may be made on large sites;
      f. not involve excavation underneath a listed
      building (including vaults).

      Clearly (a) the new building DOES contravene CL7b - the basement does not have to be under an existing building and (b) the proposal DOES NOT contravene CL7f

    3. 11.26 points out some interesting rules. Essentially that "Exceptions may be made on large sites (to allow double basements)" ie it is Councillors who will decide at the Planning Committee if the double basement proposal is acceptable.

      What 11.26 ignores is public opinion. Residents of Kensington and Chelsea are experts about the disturbance and shear hell of large building sites in our Borough. The scale of the outcry about this proposal is directly related to the scale of the proposal and the living hell that will result from the Traffic Plan - perhaps 20 heavy lorries every day for two years, in addition to the major building site in our park.

      The Traffic Plan proposes that all lorries will use Jubilee Walk alongside Perks Field, exiting and entering via Orme Square Gate on the Bayswater Road. A new temporary highway will also be constructed alongside Jubilee Walk. Residents know the congestion and confusion on Bayswater Road that is caused by the occasional evening functions (eg wedding reception) at the Orangery. Lorries will mean that traffic is stopped in both directions forty times a day to allow entry and exit for lorries. A more considerate Traffic Plan would be to bring lorries in at the Palace Entrance in High Street Kensington, crate a temporary highway in the field in front of the Palace and route it around to the Orangery via the bottom of Perks Field. Exiting via Jubilee Walk.

      The Palace may be resist this, but as major beneficiaries of the scheme, they should be prepared to share the pain.

      The current scale of the proposal, which more than triples the floor space of the current Orangery, is just too big. The downside in terms of filth, noise and inconvenience for residents and park users is unacceptable. Greed and selfishness in the extreme.

      Perhaps the Palace could consider a more modest proposal and withdraw the current application. A single basement and a footprint half the size. With traffic entering at Kensington High Street and leaving in Bayswater Road.

      Something along these lines takes account of resident feelings and park users and is more in keeping with an "upgrade of Orangery facilities". The current idea is more like a Versailles extravagance.

    4. Versailles is a good analogy. When projects like this are paid for by "benefactors and patrons", financial disciplines of prudence fly out the window. Either an all powerful Emperor empties the coffers or a young and inexperienced team (in the practicalities of life) create their Ivory Tower.

      It seems that in this instance there were no wise men prepared to say "STOP".

  17. The Orangery was built 1704-05. Viewing the Orangery from the Broad Walk the picture has not changed for 300 years. To the rear of the Orangery there is a sort of woodland area (trees, shrubs with many birds -this shrubbery hides the modern temporary structures). So as well as the objections on planning terms, objections on noise, nuisance, pollution, traffic, there is also the aesthetic consideration. At Chiswick House there are a collection of explanatory boards dotted around the grounds with a reproduction of a painting depicting that particular view from where the visitor is standing - so one can see how the vista has remained the same for centuries. The Orangery building has four sides - why should the rear elevation (with its own architectural merit) be ruined by plonking a restaurant next to it? There are enough catering facilities in Kensington Gardens already. Why should parkland be sacrificed so that the commercialisation of the park can be intensified? What about the bio-diversity in that patch of land? The applicant should not say "we are a charity and need new revenue streams". A Freedom of Information request should reveal how much profit was made from Paris Hilton (a 'celebrity') holding her three day marriage celebrations at the Orangery and from Conrad Black's fancy dress party also held at the Orangery. This application stinks to high heaven!

  18. I find Amanda Frame and KS's attitude troubling. It is true that they don't have to represent their members views. It is true that they are a conservation charity essentially.
    But, they have obviously been discussing the matter with the "representatives of the Palace". Did they not think they should discuss the matter with their members as well?
    What is the point of setting up a meeting after the planning consultation has ended?
    Power does corrupt. And after a while, a leader can think they know best, and they stop consulting widely and they lose their objectivity.
    Amanda has always loved the schmoozing with councillors and the council officials and the powers that be. She wants to feel important.
    So perhaps members of KS need to reevaluate their membership. KS does not represent their members.
    In regards to Newcombe House, KS supported the developers and supported their planning application. Even the PAC considered the planning application inappropriate and rejected it.
    KS under the leadership of Amanda Frame has become nothing more than a society that will validate and support a developers planning application, if they schmooze and ingratiate themselves to Amanda Frame.
    KS will not consult their members. KS don't have a duty to do so. They don't represent their members nor do they have a duty to do so.
    I think it is clear that they don't represent their members, indeed their constitution does not even say that they do represent their members.
    And when Amanda Frame states that she wont help a non-member, she should be reminded of the constitution where membership is not a pre-requisite. The raison d'etre of KS is to conserve rather than assist members, which they showing very well.
    So why be a member?


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