Wednesday 10th November, 2021
At last we had our first physical AGM since the pandemic began, at St Philips Church, Earl’s Court Road. Aptly for November, the church is cosier than our usual, lush environs of Leighton House which is currently undergoing refurbishment.
The room was packed, minutes and reports approved, trustees duly re-elected and as Cop 26 was underway our guests were a panel of experts in local greening and planning, whom we invited to discuss and take questions on “Greening the Borough” , the principles of which we will all need to implement. Housebuilding and renovation - the latter more pertinently for our ward and indeed for our borough - will never be the same. Ancient materials such as lime and concrete will be in the mix with vapour closed or vapour open insulation, taping and air source heat pumps…it is no wonder that one of our audience asked that the council provide some guidance, and another in the audience commented that a conservation architect was what was needed.
Jonathan Wade, Jeremy Plester, Amanda Frame and Martha Grekos barely had time to discuss their views on the difficulties and essentials of transferring from offsetting to actually achieving zero carbon; of insulating solid walls in a conservation area, and of insulating floors in a retrofit whilst our members asked a variety of questions such as the lack of environmentally friendly practises, noise and air quality problems at the rubbish depot in Warwick Road;the depletion of independent shops in the ward, and that the lack of the cinematic hub of the borough is still being keenly felt. Five minute neighbourhoods were judged as important as 15 minute cities, “If you can’t do it in RBKC you can’t do it anywhere.” Insulating terraced houses in a conservation area, mansion blocks and the completion of the Conservation Area Consultation were thorny issues that were raised, and whilst greening is to be lauded it was felt that the council could do far more to prevent the egregious extent of de-greening that has contributed to problems such as the flood in July this year.
The good news is that developers are now being pressurised far more than previously to provide affordable housing instead of offsetting, as the number of empty units serving as cash parks is not considered an asset to the community, they are seen as financial nest eggs by their owners rather than homes. Large super prime units are not occupied most of the time. The Council and your local conservation associations do not underestimate the difficulties and overwhelming amount of seemingly disjointed and inapplicable techniques, materials and information of what we should but maybe cannot do to upgrade our homes for the greater, greener good. There is value in having examples of good practice and we look with interest to the council for positive and assertive action in this realm.
50 Years of ESSA
This year we celebrated 50 years of helping our neighbours protect their amenity and the character of the built environment.
Join us at our AGM at 6.30pm on Wednesday, 10th November 2021
at St Philip's Church, Earl's Court Road, W8 6QH
Our Chairman Barry Munday helps our first lucky raffle prize winner make her choice, above left. Above right the Mayor Gerard Hargreaves inspires ESSA members to purchase more raffle tickets helped by Suzy Anderson and Felicity Buchan, M.P.
We would like to thank our M.P. Felicity Buchan, left, for her ready support for ESSA in addressing the various issues that concern our members and all constituents. We would also like to congratulate her on her recent appointment as Trade Envoy to Norway and Iceland.
With thanks to Chatsworth Court for hosting the party as organised by Lloyd North, below, and a big thank you from ESSA to generous members and business members who donated the raffle prizes.
These included Kiki McDonough Jewellery, delicious Lebanese sweets, lots of champagne and a tempting fruit basket.
Suzy Anderson, longest standing committee member, an early pioneer of ESSA's work, with new ESSA members and Victoria Borwick.
Alexander, Treasurer - and excellent proofreader!
Below,Tony Walker, our previous Chairman, whose enthusiasm for and delight in historic buildings has contributed enormously to retention of the character of the area. With Andy Walker and Mary Forsyth.
Above, Mehul, our newest committee member.
The marquee was set up in case of rain.
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RBKC has launched its consultation on the "Draft Conservation Area Appraisal and proposed boundary changes for the Edwardes Square, Scarsdale and Abingdon Conservation Area".
We support the proposed changes and the area appraisal, subject to some fine-tuning. Please look at the consultation document at https://planningconsult.rbkc.gov.uk/. Consultation continues until 6th March. You can respond directly to the consultation if you have any comments.
Also, feel free to let us know how you feel. We would love to hear from you at essaW8@gmail.com.
The Council is also consulting on its Environmental Action Plans including
- Achieving carbon neutrality and tackling climate change
Improving air quality
Tackling fuel poverty
Protecting and enhancing biodiversity
Have your say at https://consult.rbkc.gov.uk/communities/environmental-action-plans/. The consultation ends on 13th February so time is short.
A third application was made in 2021 for a further revised scheme designed by a different architectural practice. Although the new design addresses the daylight and sunlight issues in relation to surrounding properties, it signally fails to so with regard to its own internal arrangements, with a number of the bedrooms situated at basement level with very restricted access to daylight and views. The proposals rely on full air-conditioning for the whole building with consequent need for extensive plant at roof level and consequential noise issues for the surrounding properties.
ESSA has strongly objected to the proposals as have The Kensington Society and Abingdon Court Freehold and numerous others. We believe that a more environmentally friendly approach is needed and that the double basement should not be allowed for what is a completely new design. The new owners of Allen House are showing the way. At the time of writing the application has not gone to the planning committee so the outcome remains uncertain.
A hundred yards to the south of Allen House sits Avon House, a much less attractive building which was a care home for the elderly until its closure in 2013. Since then, developers Melford Capital have been seeking planning permission to redevelop the site. Permission was granted in 2016 for redevelopment of the site into a residential rehabilitation unit for those with neurological disorders. Image: Avon House Exceptionally, permission was granted for a two-storey basement on the basis that much of the supporting and ancillary spaces could be accommodated below ground level.
However, the developer could not find an operator for the facility and therefore decided to change the proposed use to a residential care home for the elderly. This required a completely new design and planning application. A new application was submitted in 2019 and eventually refused in September 2020 on the grounds of its impact upon the living conditions of surrounding properties.