Firstly, a big thank you to everyone who came to our AGM on the 17th January. We had excellent attendance with well over 50 local residents, together with representation from various other community groups and our MP, Emma Dent Coad, who kindly took time to support us during an exceptionally busy week in Parliament. The key areas discussed are outlined below.
Tanya Alfillé gave us an update since Mayor Khan’s decision, last September, to grant planning permission to the developer. She reported that the Secretary of State for Housing, James Brokenshire MP, has subsequently issued a holding direction. This puts the application on hold so there is more time to assess it and decide whether to call it in. If he decides to call in the application, then the application will be considered at a public inquiry, led by a planning inspector who will then make recommendations to the Secretary of State. There is no time limit on the holding direction.
Key news here was that HVRA is without a chairman following Peter Thompson's relocation to the US. However, since the AGM the Committee has been in discussions with potential candidates and we are confident that dissolution of the association will be avoided.
The accounts were approved (with thanks to Anthony Rawlinson and Tom Kristensen for verifying these), and the Committee members re-elected.
We have 138 paid-up members and 422 subscribers to our mailing list - many of whom are households, so our reach is almost certainly well in excess of 1000 individuals. 2019 subscriptions are now due - see below!
We have arranged representation at the London Forum (an association pulling together residents' associations from across London) and have already attended information sessions of relevance to what we do.
We also informed our members of the proposed extension to the opening hours of Mc Donalds in order to galvanise opposition to the application, which was withdrawn.
Since the AGM we have also highlighted the plans to move Victoria Coach Station to Royal Oak, which would cause a huge increase in traffic and pollution in Bayswater, with knock-on effects on the surrounding areas.
2019 subscriptions due!
Please renew your subscription, or if not currently a member, please consider joining to support your community! Annual membership is £15 per person (although additional donations large & small are always welcomed...). Our details are:
Sort code: 30 96 19
Please be sure to put your name as a reference, and send an email to email@example.com so that we can make sure our records are up to date.
Thank you so much for supporting our work for the benefit of our lovely area.
The HVRA Committee
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING: THURSDAY 17TH JANUARY AT 7:00PM
Dear members and supporters,
A formal notification that our next AGM will be held at 7pm on Thursday 17th January 2019 at the Unitarian Church, 112 Palace Gardens Terrace, W8 4RT, followed by drinks (£5 cash donation on the night). Please do come along - if you are not already a Member you can join on the door!
Call for Volunteers – HVRA Needs You! The HVRA is a voluntary, community organisation. It can only exist and operate through the hard work of its volunteers. As many members of the current Committee have served since the organisation’s founding some three years ago, new blood is now needed to help develop our Association for the future. If you would like to put yourself forward to join our Committee and/or to give the Association practical help please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
On behalf of all our colleagues on the HVRA Committee, thank you very much for your support during the past year, which is much appreciated. We look forward to seeing you at the AGM and to hearing from potential volunteers.
John Learmonth, Vice Chair
Alexander Burrows, Secretary
Latest news: December 2019
The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (The Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP) has issued a “holding direction” to the Greater London Authority directing that they are not to grant permission for the Newcombe House application without his specific authorisation.
The HVRA, RBKC and Emma Dent Coad MP, and possibly others, had written to the Secretary of State requesting that he “call-in” the application. This “holding direction” does not necessarily mean that the Secretary of State wants to take over the application by calling it in; however, it does suggest that he wishes to have time to consider the matter fully.
As far as we understand, the holding direction is not time limited so will stay in place until either the Secretary of State withdraws it or decides he wishes to take over the application. We will keep you posted on developments.
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 in January 2017. 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.
Regrettably, the Mayor of London approved the Newcombe House planning application at the 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.
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:
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 email@example.com to let us know who you are and that you've paid a subscription/donation.
OBJECTions to the current Newcombe House proposal
Full details of the new revised application can be found on the RBKC website here:
(Note that this page takes a little while to load)
and on the GLA website here:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
The site does need rejuvenating but in a much more imaginative, mixed-use way for the benefit of the whole community.