This is Newcombe House in Notting Hill Gate – an eyesore of a building once described by journalist, author and Kensington resident Simon Jenkins as a squalid 1960s block “that would discredit a Soviet suburb”.
Today at 2pm, there will be a hearing at City Hall over this to decide over the redevelopment plans for the building, – which been strongly opposed but also have divided the local community deeply – and the Mayor of London has “called it in” after RBKC rejected the proposals for the third time – he will now make the final decision.
Residents unable to make it to City Hall can watch the live stream webcast here:
More about the proposals here:
This might be a controversial redevelopment but there are powerful arguments being made on all sides by residents here both for and against . The Kensington Society, , the Ladbroke Association and the Campden Hill Residents Association to some peoples’ surprise, have backed the plans. Divisions over this have also crossed political party lines, with supporters and opposers on all sides of the political divide.
The Kensington Society have made their reasons clear for supporting the scheme here:
On the opposing side, the Skyline Campaign have said :”“It will establish a precedent and that’s hugely dangerous for London on the whole, and especially this particular part of London, which is one of the most revered places in the “If they allow 18 storeys there, when they’ve said you’re not allowed to do that, the next developer will come along and say they want 18 storeys, or 20 storeys, It will be incremental.
“The existing building looks very tired and it is an eyesore. It is completely wrong and shouldn’t be in Notting Hill Gate. But the new design is very mediocre. They need a better design and to not build higher that what it is now”.
The Hillgate Village Residents Association have said the proposed development is “too tall and overbearing for the area”.They have also said “The proposed public benefits do not outweigh the harm likely to be caused to the surrounding heritage assets and the community by a much taller Tower which the Council found to be of “insufficient high design quality”.
Letting one developer build an excessively tall Tower could create a precedent, opening the floodgates for other Towers on Notting Hill Gate and elsewhere in west London. ”
The Pembridge Association have said:” The Pembridge Association is a conservation society for the Pembridge Conservation Area which borders the north side of Notting Hill Gate. The proposal is for a large building which will set a precedent for subsequent developments of the surrounding area. The scale will affect the whole of the historic environment of this part of Notting Hill Gate. Whilst there have been improvements to some aspects of the proposal, the design of the façade remains poor and the low quality offer of public amenity is not enough to justify the proposal as it stands. It should be rejected in its current form and improvements, both in the design and in the public amenity offered, required for any future, successful application”
Others opposing the scheme include the Georgian Group, ADKC (Action Disability Kensington and Chelsea), the South East Bayswater Residents’ Association and Kensington MP Emma Dent Coad.
THINK have received emails asking us to make our position on this clear (including someone accusing our blog of sitting on the fence!) , so here it is:
We are against, but if the plan was reconsidered to reduce the height and to include more social housing (not so-called “affordable” – around 80% of the market rate-) and the proposed GP surgery did not come at the expense of other nearby surgeries closing – we could be open to persuasion, but we think that 23 units of affordable housing (the developers increased this from 9 units ) is a pathetic amount and will do nothing to help the housing crisis.
We also believe that the increased height of the proposed redevelopment will make the building even more of an eyesore and that it is out of keeping with the character of the area. Loss of natural light to nearby residents caused by the height of the proposed building also has to be taken into consideration.
The one thing everyone seems to agree on over this is that the building is in a state and really does need some work, and that step free access to Notting Hill Gate underground station is important. We believe there should be step-free access to the station on all sides and the proposals are only for step-free access on one way only – this is not acceptable.
We just happen to believe that there are better ways forward and that what is on the table simply isn’t good enough – not for the area, not for nearby residents, not for better accessibility to the station and certainly will not do anything to help the housing problem. We hope Sadiq Khan listens to all sides but ultimately that he rejects it and instead asks the developers Brockton Capital to go back to the drawing board. There has to be a better way forward in our opinion – and this is not it.
Whatever does happen to Newcombe House, we strongly feel that there must really be something done about the lack of step free access to Notting Hill Gate station and the Mayor and TFL should also do something about improving access to all the other stations in the borough, including Ladbroke Grove and Latimer Road in our locality.
We’ll remind both RBKC and Sadiq Khan that this city , particularly our area of London, is desperately short of social housing and that both our council and our London Mayor do not have a great track record of doing much to resolve this problem.