Conservation matters in North Kensington social housing too

Pictured above is a block of  council flats located in Hesketh Place, North Kensington. It was built in 1906. Looks quite nice from the outside doesn’t it? But it will not be looking so attractive for much longer if the council has its way….

Pictured below  is its neighbouring block,  a block of temporary accommodation flats known as “Hesketh and Runcorn” which straddles Hesketh place to the south and Runcorn Place to the north. As you can see, unlike the first  (permanent accommodation) block, of flats the KCTMO were not so kind to  the exterior of this block as the window replacements were and still are, completely out of character to the age of the building.

Neighbouring smaller buildings in Walmer Road have not been as fortunate with their window replacements either:

RBKC now has a window replacement programme  (part of their so-called “home improvement scheme “) which includes all these properties. The problem is, just like the bad old TMO, the council wants to do this on the cheap and what could have been an oppotunity to replace the ugly cheap and inappropriate windows with ones more appropriate to the character and age of the bulldings with a more appropriate design and well as being more energy efficient, is now turning into an act of vandalism.

On the 20th of July, the Planning Applications Committee approved window replacements for these in Walmer Road, but these will be like-for-like nasty cheap ones, rather than something more in keeping with the character of the buildings. We thought RBKC could do with  a local geography lesson, as the Planning Officers seened to be rather clueless about the area. It isn’t in a conservation area, but it is in VERY CLOSE PROXIMITY  to both the  Avondale Park Consservation Area and tthe Norland Conservation Area

Residents of these buildings were not consulted with about the design at all, and  we strongly feel windows like this, above,  should NOT be on properties that are over 100 years old and which sit very closely located to conservation areas. 

So here are some words for RBKC:

Just because the KCTMO did it, that does not mean it is acceptable. People in this neighbourhood live around the corner from Grenfell Tower and  have a permanent tragic reminder of shoddy works done by RBKC and KCTMO  on the cheap – living with the loss of 72 members of their community. Enough is enough.

We are not opposed to the principle of energy efficient windows, we are opposed to it being done with zero respect and consideration for design and age of the buildings, no proper consulting with residents (and neighbouring RAs and Consetvation Groups should have been consulted about this too) and what is part of the same programme on buildings in the same location, of buildings of the same age should all be treated as ONE planning application, not lots of little ones desgined to hurry tbis though the Planning Applications Committee boping nobody will notice.

RBKC in fact  used the ” it is not in a conservation area but sits close to  conservation areas”  argument as part of their case for opposing the Holiday Inn Forum Hotel scheme in Cromwell Road, South Kensington. Conservation matters. It matters in South Kensington , it matters in North Kensington and it should matter no less with regard to social housing.

After all, it’s completely hypocritical of a council wbich claims to do its best to preserve older buildings and conserve the borough, and comes down hard on residents who fit inappropriate windows or decorate the exterior of their home inappropriately, to then go and do this. It is sticking up two fingers to residents of both these properties and to other residents in both Notting Dale and Norland wards. 

As for the interiors of these properties, well, the word is that RBKC cares even less about that and that residents in these are receiving poorer housing services than they did under the TMO. 

And to “hammer home” the point,  here is our UPVC window  photoshopped makeover of the RBKC Deputy Leader and Lead Member for Grenfell, Housing and Social Investment, Kim Taylor-Smith’s Chelsea home:

Kensington claws out for Thames Water on Tuesday

Meet Fat Cat Ian Marchant (pictured above). Mr Marchant is Chair of Thames Water and gets paid £325,000 for a two day week. Alright for some….

No doubt he has never had to undergo the ordeal of being knee deep in water and sewage in his home or business. His prize possessions will be secure and insured to the hilt, unlike many residents and businesses in and around our area (some of whom on top of their ordeal, are facing real hardship) after the flash floods two weeks ago.

Fat Cat Marchant has only been photoshopped by us in North Kensington, and we think he should pay our area a visit and talk to residents whose homes were badly flooded here. He certainly needs a reality check….

Perhaps he can be bothered to lift himself out of his cat basket to look at some of what our fellow Kensington bloggers at From The Hornets Nest have had to say about him and his company here?

On Tuesday July the 27th at 6pm, there will be this online Q & A meeting called by Kensington MP Felicity Buchan, where affected residents can put their questions to Thames Water. There is still just a day left to RSVP to Felicity Buchan’s office felicity. to register attendance and send questions in. We strongly recommend that any of our local readers who have been affected do go. RBKC will be there too:

It’s fair to say this blog isn’t usually full of praise for Felicity Buchan, but for organising this meeting, we say thank you and well done to her.

But no pats on the head for Fat Cat Marchant and his company, and disappointingly, affected residents and businesses with many questions about lack of maintenance, infrastructure , planning , future flood prevention given the climate crisis and why Thames Water, that rakes in £500 million profit, spends less than £20 million on cleaning and maintaining the capital’s sewers – won’t get to meet Fat Cat Marchant there (he is probably too busy dislodging his head from a bowl of cream ), or the other Thames Water big fat cats. So three stooges from the company will be there instead.

Today, with the constant rain, our thoughts have been for all affected by the floods and really hoping there won’t be a repeat of two weeks ago. We’re also wondering what it will take to get Thames Water to get their act together….

UPDATE: Residents who have any questions for Thames Water can go and speak to them on Friday July the 30th as they will be in the area. Representatives from Thames Water will be in Portobello Road, running a stall on pitch 51 outside Moneycorp in Portobello Road/Colville Terrace W11 from 10am to 4pm.