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Tuesday, 23 January 2018


Dear Friends within Norland and Notting Barns,

The Kensington Society has applied to have the former St James’s Hall/Drill Hall listed but has run into a snag. 
This historic building lies in the shadow of Grenfell Tower and under threat of being developed into a personal pleasure spa with a basement spanning the entire site.  

All looked promising with our listing application to Historic England but, to our surprise, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport refused the application. 

We challenged the refusal and have been given a short period of time to present our objections and submit additional support information.  
I could explain further and if you want to know more, please ask, but the long and the short is we need your support.

The building was built on the site of three former homes on what was then Katherine Street and now Wilsham Street.  The primary purpose was community use.  
One must remember that nearly half the babies born in this area died before they were a year old.  

There was a total of fifteen hundred families in the most congested area of the Piggeries and Potteries, at least one thousand occupied one-roomed tenements furnished or unfurnished. 

There is so much the hall and those Victorian volunteers did for the community. 
Listing is not just about the architecture.  
It is also about the social contribution and role a building played in its time.  
Listing this building is exactly the type of signal the Government should be sending to the local community – in fact, the wider community.  
This building represents a major social contribution; one which the Victorians held dear to their hearts but sadly less apparent today.
By recognising its social importance and the contributions of the likes of Octavia Hill a message could be sent as an endorsement to just such endeavours and the contributions they made. 
On the other hand, by refusing the application for listing the Government signals that it does not recognise historic and present needs for community and former social contributions.

Can you please urgently email a support letter to: 
Andrew Doidge 
Philip Seely
Reference: 97-101 Wilsham Street, London, W11,     HE Reference Number 1452223

Please also pass this along and ask your friends to support the listing.
Yours sincerely
Amanda Frame, Chairman

The Kensington Society


  1. Who is the person proposing this development? Friend of a friend, I may say.
    We should support this effort and KS should perhaps post a local campaign on Facebook,
    what is this site used for at this time?

  2. I presume what is meant is 97 Wilsham Street. This appears to be a private house - so it is no longer a community asset. It is totally out of scale, towering twice the height of the neighbouring terraced cottages, and to be honest is of mediocre architectural merit. I can quite understand why Listing has been refused. And it is 582 mt from Grenfell - hardly 'in the shadow of'.

  3. The owner is "innocent"

  4. The 'owner' wants a large rear extension, to knock 2 houses together (reducing the availability of housing in the Borough)and to build a massive basement with swimming pool under both properties. Listing would prevent the basement of course....

  5. The last (withdrawn) application appears to be

    I don't see 'a massive rear extension', there is practically no loss of garden, and the basement is for the most part under the building.

    In any case, surely buildings are only 'listed' when they are in original or near original condition - this was evidently converted into a house a long time ago, surely destroying any 'Church/Drill Hall' internal features?

  6. Judging from the above information, it would appear that the Society should champion more worthwhile causes. However, a big basement with a swimming pool is a curiosity. Why would someone with money to burn choose to live in that neighbourhood? Must meander over during a clear, dry night and have a look.

    appears to be the location....

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  9. Unfortunately KS has become a tainted organisation in the Royal Borough. Its advice has been tainted by the need of the leadership to curry favour with developers and the movers and shakers. Very sad.

    1. Only in your eyes is it 'tainted'. In the eyes of the majority of component RA's it does a fantastic job of providing a campaigning focal point

  10. The "innocent" owner bought the next door house from Octavia Housing (i.e. it was a social housing property) for an elderly relative. Presumably the relative died, leaving it free for him to do as he pleases, subject to planning permission. So a loss not just of one house, but of a socially rented house. But hey, he gives loads of money to charity, so he can get away with it.

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  12. This sounds like a perfectly reasonable planning application. The Kensington Society should focus on what it is supposed to do, to protect the serious heritage of the borough and to stop victimising local residents who simply want to improve their home, this building will look the same on the outside as before and is not of serious architectural merit.

    1. The Kensington Society is exemplary.
      It doesn't do much for the morale of those behind it if they are sniped at with no particular good reason.
      We should be very grateful for its campaigning work and join them rather than yelling from the sidelines.

  13. Dear Dame

    We are trying very hard to keep your blog alive but it is really rather boring at the moment - when an awful lot is actually happening! And how many more tips do you need to identify Mr "innocent"?

  14. How dare you tell the Dame she is boring. It's hardly her fault that there's not a great deal going on. If you know something she doesn't then tell her; she all ears.
    Yes, the Dame has gathered that we are talking about young Richard Reed, one of the founders of Innocent Drinks(something she would never buy as she has staff to make her 'health potions')

    1. Bay20 non consulatations. Latimer City. Lancaster West renovation consultations. The stables being reopened.

      This is all of much more interest than innocents renovation plans

    2. I suspect that the Dame's usual north kensington correspondent now has far too much to do at the House of Commons to keep the Dame updated with the gossip of life amongst the borough's underprivileged.

    3. Yes. EDC was out leafleting golborn overvthe weekend with the news that councillor Powell will be standing down but not her.

      And that they want to close “subterania”. Meaning mode. That’s closed anyway.


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