Sept 19th, 2018

Result from Mayor Khan’s Hearing on Newcombe House

Dear Members and Supporters,
 
Regrettably, the Mayor of London approved the Newcombe House planning application at yesterday’s public hearing. Here is a link to the video of the hearing (begins after 15 mins): https://www.london.gov.uk/newcombe-representation-hearing-2018-09-18
 
HVRA was one of six objectors who presented their cases to the Mayor for rejecting the Newcombe House proposal. HVRA was represented by our Chair, Peter Thompson. The others were Cllr Sina Lari on behalf of Emma Dent Coad, MP for Kensington (who was prevented by illness from attending), The Skyline Campaign (Barbara Weiss), SEBRA and BRA (Sophia Massey-Cook), the chair of Action Disability, Kensington & Chelsea (Jamie Renton), and an individual local resident, David Ginsberg. We all put compelling cases for rejection. The local authority was represented by Cllr Quentin Marshall, the chair of the RBKC Planning Committee, who also spoke against.
 
The HVRA committee will communicate further with members and supporters in the coming days. If you are a supporter and wish to join HVRA, please send an email to hillgatevillage@outlook.com.
 
Thank you for your continued support. 
 
HVRA Executive Committee

SEPT 2018

Decision Day: September 18th, 2pm, City Hall


Dear members and supporters, 

The GLA received 437 objections and 41 comments in support by the extended 30th August  "deadline", and their officers are now summarising these for the Mayor. The almost 800 previous objections to RBKC will also be "taken into account", and the weight of local objections remains very strong. We are grateful to all of you who took the trouble to write to the Mayor. 

A key objector is RBKC, following the unanimous vote of its planning committee on August 7th (after they heard from our Chair and Vice Chair). Their 4 page objection is followed by 76 recommended conditions, and heads of terms for a Section 106 agreement if the Mayor does approve. In summary, we understand RBKC favour a “lower, denser” development. See:
https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/idoxWAM/doc/Correspondence-2120495.pdf?extension=.pdf&id=2120495&location=VOLUME2&contentType=application/pdf&pageCount=1

Other notable objectors include "Skyline",  SEBRA (Southeast Bayswater – with over 1200 members), Campden Hill Residents Association and Emma Dent Coad MP. If any of you wish to read the HVRA objection, please reply and we will forward it. 
 
If you (or like-minded contacts) did not object already, further objections would still be useful. The reference number is GLA3109A and the email to write to is newcombehouse@london.gov.uk

Meeting attendance on Tuesday September 18th 
 
As with the January 31st RBKC meeting, it would be helpful to have a good crowd of objectors at City Hall - and we understand Sadiq Khan is likely to decide there and then. City Hall is next to Tower Bridge (nearest underground is London Bridge, on the Jubilee line). The meeting starts at 2 pm. As it may be crowded, if you do attend it is advisable to get there a little early. 
 
Thanks again for all your support, and we look forward to seeing many of you at City Hall.
 
Regards,
 
HVRA Committee

WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?


JOIN The Hillgate Village Residents’ Association/HVRA (annual membership £15 per person). Please confirm your Email address to receive our Newsletter and updates

WRITE to the Mayor at the Greater London Assembly at: 
newcombehouse@london.gov.uk
A Google search for 'GLA Newcombe House" will take you to their pages outlining the development and their reasons for calling it in.  The RBKC planning application reference is PP/17/05782 if you'd like more detail from the Council website.

ATTEND and ENCOURAGE your friends and neighbours to attend the September public hearing at City Hall (date TBC).

FINALLY, PLEASE DONATE to our fighting fund! Account name: Hillgate Village Residents’ Association Sort code: 30 96 19 Account number: 26278968. Please send an email to us at hillgatevillage@outlook.com to let us know who you are and that you've paid a subscription/donation.

Aug 2018: Please tell the Mayor that you OBJECT to the new Newcombe House proposal 

The developers’ first planning application for the Newcombe House site was refused by RBKC in 2016, their Appeal dismissed in June 2017 and a second application refused again by RBKC last January. In March the Mayor of London “called-in” the development. The developers have now submitted a revised application for the same tower but with increases to the height and size of other buildings in the scheme to incorporate an increased number of flats, including more affordable housing.

Full details of the new revised application can be found on the RBKC website here:

http://www.rbkc.gov.uk/PP/17/05782     
(Note that this page takes a little while to load)

and on the GLA website here:

https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/planning/planning-applications-and-decisions/public-hearings/newcombe-house-public-hearing

There is now a public consultation. After representations from HVRA and RBKC Councillors, the Mayor has extended the deadline to 30th August. Please OBJECT NOW, quoting GLA reference 3109a, to the revised scheme either:

  • By email to newcombehouse@london.gov.uk, or

  • By mail to: Newcombe House Public Hearing, The Planning Team, Greater London Authority, City Hall, The Queen's Walk, London SE1 2AA

Mayor Sadiq Khan will decide whether or not to approve the application following a public hearing, likely to be on 18th September. It is up to ALL OF US to persuade him to support our community and cross-party elected representatives, and not this inappropriate development.

Reasons for objecting: We've listed these below.  Obviously please feel free to add, amend or use your own.

Please remember: Notting Hill deserves better! We do not have to put up with major works and accept a plan because it is the only one on offer. The current Newcombe House may be tall and unloved but replacing it with something much taller and less distinguished, packaged with insufficient benefits, is not the answer. The test of any regeneration scheme is that it’s better than what it proposes to replace.

Please encourage friends and neighbours to OBJECT.

It would also be very helpful if everyone who objects could copy/forward their objection to hillgatevillage@outlook.com as unlike RBKC, the GLA website does not show objections received. We need to have as good a record as possible of the number and nature of the objections.

Please consider joining The Hillgate Village Residents’ Association (membership £15 pp pa). Email hillgatevillage@outlook.com.

Reasons for Objecting

Here is some guidance for your own letter of OBJECTION using the points that are relevant to you. It is important that any letter of objection reflects your own views and is written in your own words.

  1. Affordable housing offered (24.5% of total residential floor space) in the revised proposal still doesn’t reach RBKC Policy target, and is only a very marginal increase over that currently offered by Royston Court (part of the development). It falls short of the Mayor’s ambition of 50% affordable housing by residential floor area in a development of this size.

  2. The proposed 18-storey tower on Notting Hill Gate will be 50% tallerthan the existing Newcombe House and is not Policy compliant. It will dwarf the whole neighbourhood, especially Hillgate Village's small-scale houses (3 storeys). The height and design of the proposed tower would have a significant negative impact on the surrounding Conservation Areas. The revised July 2018 application actually increases heights of some other buildings and the massing of the proposed development.

  3. The 21 flats in the Tower are most unlikely to meet the need for accommodation for Londoners. Based on recent history elsewhere in RBKC, they will likely be purchased by offshore investors and left empty - expected sale prices range from £4.5 million to over £15 million for a top floor duplex. These are not “homes” for the many or even the few, but for no one.

  4. According to stats revealed by RBKC last summer, there are over 1600 empty homes in the Borough, of which 37% have been unoccupied for two years or more, many owned by offshore companies and non-resident investors. The proposals will just add to that figure. 

  5. Letting developers build an excessively tall tower on one of the highest points in the Borough will create a dangerous precedent, opening the floodgates for other towers on the Gate and elsewhere in west London, ruining the skyline for ever.

  6. It is acknowledged that some community benefits are proposed, but these are insufficient to outweigh the harm likely to be caused to the area and community by a much taller Tower. The proposed benefits cannot justify the likely negative impacts of the proposed development:

    • Step free access at Notting Hill Gate tube station will only be provided to one platform out of four - the anti-clockwise, Circle line platform, and not to the Central Line. Anyone travelling north and wanting to use step-free access on the Circle Line to exit at NHG will have to pass the station and reverse their journey at Edgware Road.

    • No additional patient capacity is likely to be created by two existing surgeries north of the Gate moving to the one proposed in the application. Relocating to a single surgery at Notting Hill Gate will increase journey times for many patients of the existing surgeries. The existing surgeries are not under threat of closure.

    • The number of parking places proposed in the application breach guidelines for parking provision for new housing.

    • The Farmers' Market will have to move for the duration of the building works and we understand that it may be relocating at the far end of Portobello Road. Will there be any Farmers' Market to return in the future?

  7. The building works, demolishing all existing buildings west side of Kensington Church Street from Waterstones to Kensington Place, excavating a two-storey basement on the Farmers' Market location, building the Tower and five large additional buildings, will last at least three and half years according to the developers' own calculations.

  8. The works will affect significantly local traffic, parking, noise and air pollution. The developers' own estimates indicate 20 lorries per day on average, or 3 lorries per hour, over the development period. This in a neighbourhood with small, narrow streets, with nearby nursery and primary schools.

  9. Proposed works at the Newcombe House site will surround the Bethesda Chapel, the oldest building in the area. The congregation say the Chapel has already been damaged by works in the area and is very concerned by the proposals.

  10. In the current economic climate, many large building projects are experiencing problems and many local shops are vacant.

    What guarantee is there that this major application will deliver?

  11. The design of the proposed Tower is mediocre at best. Kensington & Chelsea's own Architectural Review Panel judged the tower's architecture "neither elegant nor accomplished" enough for such a tall building in such a prominent position. The coherence of building design on the Gate will be reduced by the new Tower. The other 60’s blocks on the Gate are being refurbished, whilst the proposal for Newcombe House is to demolish and build to a completely new design. The option of renovating and refurbishing the site should be considered - emerging policy contained within the Local Plan Partial Review clearly identifies refurbishment as an “appropriate option” for Newcombe House.

  12. The site does need rejuvenating but in a much more imaginative, mixed-use way for the benefit of the whole community.

    July 2018: New proposals for Newcombe House submitted to Mayor

We have heard that new proposals for Newcombe House have been submitted to the Mayor by the developers.  They can be found here:

https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/planning/planning-applications-and-decisions/public-hearings/newcombe-house-public-hearing

An overview of the key changes can be found here:

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/idoxWAM/doc/Revision%20Content-2100846.pdf?extension=.pdf&id=2100846&location=VOLUME2&contentType=application/pdf&pageCount=1

Overall there is very little change to the height and design of the tower block, so it looks like the developers have not amended their design to take RBKC and residents' concerns into account.

Other sections of the building have actually increased in height, and there is an enhanced allocation of affordable housing.

The deadline for objections is 10th August- not ideal as many of our supporters will be away at precisely this time.  So please put in an objection if you possibly can - each one will be vital!

Objections must to be made to: newcombehouse@london.gov.uk

With many thanks,

The HVRA Committee

May 2018: Meeting update

Tuesday evening on 15th May and the Bethesda Chapel on Kensington Place was almost full with over 70 members, supporters and friends who came to hear the latest on the planning application for the Newcombe House Tower.

As most of you will know by now, the application has been rejected twice by the Council, and the last appeal to the Council was rejected by a majority of 10:2.  However, the application has been 'called in' by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who will make a final decision on it in September at a public hearing in City Hall.

We were delighted that our Kensington and Chelsea MP, Emma Dent Coad and one of our local Councillors, Robert Freeman, were able to come to the meeting to voice their opposition to the plans and confirm their support for those fighting them. Several other councillors asked Robert to represent them as there was a three line whip for their attendance elsewhere.

The discussion centred largely around the reasons given for the Mayor's 'calling in', and issues raised by the development:

Affordable housing: Emma pointed out that 'affordable' means 60-80% of market rent.  The amount of affordable housing provided by the development is still extremely low, and well below the Mayor's own targets.

GP surgery: This will simply relocate and combine two existing practices without adding capacity.  the relocation may cause issues for those north of the existing location.

Step-free tube access: The developer's proposal would enable step-free to the Eastbound Circle & District line platform.  Speakers at the meeting pointed out that this would enable travel in a single direction so would not be particularly useful.

Danger of another Earl's Court: This much-heralded redevelopment destroyed the existing Exhibition Hall and hit financial issues.  It is now a wasteland and has left local businesses struggling.  We do not want this to happen here.

Concern over setting a precedent for high-rise towers in residential areas around London: This is not just a Hillgate Village issue - sightlines will be blighted across West London by this tower and it could be the first of many.

The meeting unanimously approved HVRA's opposition to the development and many present were extremely generous in donating towards the ongoing legal and other costs we face.  A financial summary of the expenses to date was given out at the meeting, showing a current balance of £300 - so more donations to our fighting fund are required!  A copy of the summary can be obtained from hillgatevillage@outlook.com.

What can I do to help?


JOIN The Hillgate Village Residents’ Association/HVRA (annual membership £15 per person). Please confirm your Email address to receive our Newsletter and updates

WRITE to the Mayor at the Greater London Assembly at: 
newcombehouse@london.gov.uk
A Google search for 'GLA Newcombe House" will take you to their pages outlining the development and their reasons for calling it in.  The RBKC planning application reference is PP/17/05782 if you'd like more detail from the Council website.

ATTEND and ENCOURAGE your friends and neighbours to attend the September public hearing at City Hall (date TBC).

FINALLY, PLEASE DONATE to our fighting fund! Account name: Hillgate Village Residents’ Association Sort code: 30 96 19 Account number: 26278968. Please send an email to us at hillgatevillage@outlook.com to let us know who you are and that you've paid a subscription/donation.

Thank you - to Pastor Jared of the Bethesda Chapel for so kindly letting us meet there, to our MP Emma Dent Coad and Cllr Freeman for coming to support us, and to the members and supporters who came on Tuesday.  The HVRA Committee is very grateful for your support.


Jan 2018: We won!!!!


Heartfelt thanks to everyone that attended the Planning Committee meeting on 31st January.  Support was incredible and it made clear what the majority of residents felt about the proposed development at Newcombe House.

10 councillors rejected the application while 2 approved so the planning application was rejected.  This was a great victory for the residents as many of the issues we've had all along e.g. the height of the tower and lack of social housing were cited during the hearing.

We await next steps from the developer and we will see if they decide to take this any further.  Ultimately we're all agreed that the site needs work; we just want something appropriate for the area and which works for our community. We will keep you posted!

Thank you so much for your support,

The HVRA Committee


Please object to the revised proposals for Newcombe House!

 “…Notting Hill’s main road fronts a neighbourhood of cottagey streets and squares of great charm. A developer now wants to replace the southern block [Newcombe House] with an 18-storey luxury tower of egregious ugliness. It would loom over the entire area — a poke in the eye of residents from Bayswater to Holland Park and Ladbroke Grove. Its intrusion brazenly offends the very idea of a conservation area.” 

Simon Jenkins, Evening Standard, 17th October 2017

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Fight for a BETTER scheme for the regeneration of Notting Hill Gate – OBJECT to the proposed Newcombe Tower! 

The developers’ first planning application for the Newcombe House site was refused by Kensington and Chelsea Council last year and their Appeal dismissed this summer. They have now submitted a new application with the same Tower with no changes in bulk, design or height. The Council is expected to make a decision within the next two months. 

Hundreds have already objected. You too can make your voice heard and still OBJECT to this new planning application on the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea (RBKC) website: www.rbkc.gov.uk/PP/17/05782 or by emailing your objection to planning@rbkc.gov.uk 

Please make sure to label your comment as OBJECTION and quote the case number: PP/17/05782. 

1. The proposed 72m 18-storey Tower on Notting Hill Gate will be 50% taller than the existing Newcombe House of 47m. It will dwarf the whole neighbourhood, especially Hillgate Village’s small-scale houses (3 storeys, 9m), affecting views in west London and the skyline for many decades, for residents, visitors and future generations. 

2. The developers’ plan is for 37 “high quality residential accommodation” units with an average “achievable” price of almost £4.5 million, including at the top of the Tower two duplex flats with 360-degree views, one with a “winter garden and terrace”, and prices of £14-15 million each (the “cheapest” flat is just under £1M). They are likely to appeal to non-resident buyers as “buy-to-leave” investments and remain empty, winning few new customers for our local shops, pubs and restaurants, and adding little our local community and its social fabric. 

3. The proposed on-site affordable housing (9 flats) falls far below the Mayor of London’s threshold of 35%, which he wants to raise to 50% in the long-term. 

4. The building works, demolishing all buildings on Kensington Church Street from Waterstones to Kensington Place, excavating a two-storey basement on the Farmers’ Market location, building the Tower and five large additional buildings, will last at least three and half years according to the developers’ own calculations. 

5. The Farmers’ Market will have to move for the duration of the building works and we understand that it may be relocating at the far end of Portobello Road. Will there be any Farmers’ Market to return? 

6. The works will affect significantly local traffic, parking, noise and air pollution. The developers’ own estimates indicate 20 lorries per day on average, or 3 lorries per hour, over the development period. You can guess how this would affect the neighbourhood with its small, narrow streets, nursery and primary schools. 

7. In the current economic climate, some large building projects appear to be experiencing problems and many local shops are vacant. What guarantee is there that this major application will actually deliver promised benefits? 

8. 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”. 

9. 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. 

10. Kensington & Chelsea’s own Architectural Review Panel judged the Tower’s architecture “neither elegant nor accomplished” enough for such a tall building in such a prominent position. The option of renovating and refurbishing the site should be considered. Other of Notting Hill Gate’s 1960s buildings are being refurbished with a modest increase in height, so clearly it is possible to make an economic case to do this.

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Notting Hill deserves better! We do not have to put up with major works and accept a plan just because it is the only one on the table. The current Newcombe House may be tall and unloved but replacing it with something much taller and undistinguished is not the answer. The real test of any regeneration scheme is that it’s better than what it proposes to replace. 

ACT NOW to preserve Notting Hill's unique character and stop this inappropriate development: it is too high, its design is out of keeping with the area and the proposals do not provide the kind of housing London needs. 

OBJECT NOW on RBKC planning website (www.rbkc.gov.uk/PP/17/05782) – every comment counts! 

ENCOURAGE NOW your friends and neighbours, local associations, parents at school gates, press, bloggers, etc, anyone who cares about Notting Hill and our community, to send in their objections to RBKC.

JOIN The Hillgate Village Residents’ Association/HVRA (annual membership £15 per person). DONATE to our fighting fund. SUPPORT our work on this vital matter of concern to our community. Email your contact details to hillgatevillage@outlook.com. 

Issued by The Hillgate Village Residents’ Association/HVRA 5/12/17 – www.hillgatevillage.com