New for ESSA members and guests in 2023
This year we introduced a new programme of events that members and guests are invited to enjoy with us.
On 9thFebruary 2023 we kicked off with our very first event, a sold-out tour of the newly refurbished Leighton House. Two curators led 63 attendees made up of current and new ESSA members. The lively thoroughly informative tour guides were so good that they were loudly applauded at the finale. This was followed by excellent canapés and drinks in the new café, - all included in the £30 price of the ticket. Watch this space for our new social events.
Our next event is more related to planning matters than the previous event but may affect us all more directly and for far longer! On 12th April, there will be a site visit for ESSA members and guests to the Earl's Court Development Company for a presentation. From 6pm-8pm we will be at their Lillie Road exhibition space, "Conservation Corner" opposite Hotel Lily and have a drink afterwards to discuss it. The development is not expected to go for planning permission until the end of the year so there is still time to have your say, however, the sooner you contribute your input the better.
You are welcome to join us even if you are not an ESSA member, for non-members there is a fee of £15 which includes membership for 2023, discounts off future events and advice and support that you may need if you have a planning application that concerns you in the Abingdon ward.
Join us on 12th April and find out what neighbouring development is going to evolve just down the road.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.