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Do you need help with planning and local amenity issues?

ESSA is a charitable trust, originally registered with the Charity Commission in 1971 as The Edwardes Square and Scarsdale Association. It later became the Edwardes Square, Scarsdale, and Abingdon Association, generally known as ESSA.  It was re-registered in 2016 with a modernised constitution.

Our purpose is to encourage high standards of architecture and town planning within our area through stimulating public interest in our heritage, preservation, and new development as well as wider environmental issues which affect the quality of life for residents.

Our area of interest coincides with the boundaries of the Edwardes Square, Scarsdale and Abingdon Conservation Area within the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea as well as areas immediately adjoining it.  We are within the Abingdon Ward of the Council.

Our income comes solely from membership subscriptions, donations, and grants. 

We encourage you to watch our councillors and planning officers at work with matters that affect our daily lives.

Here you will find the full schedule of meetings and videos of past meetings, and an explanation of how you can get involved.


What we do

What we do
  • We regularly monitor planning applications within the ESSA through the RBKC planning website or where requested by our members and local residents 

  • We comment on applications through the application process, whether in writing or at planning meetings

  • We are often invited to view and discuss major applications with developers prior to application stage 

  • We follow changing planning or environmental legislation at national and local level. 

  • We are recognised by RBKC as an association representing the interest of this area and are frequently invited to attend consultations and workshops on issues such as the Local Plan or Conservation policy

  • We are in regular contact with our local ward councillors and council officers over immediate or longer-term issues

  • We communicate with our members via newsletters, our website, and an Annual General Meeting


Who we are

Who we are

The association is run on an entirely voluntary basis with no paid employees. Our committee members, also trustees of the charity, are elected each year at the Annual General Meeting.

All members are entitled to stand for election.

The committee includes members with planning, conservation and architectural qualifications. All live within the ESSA area and are there because they care about the history and architecture of the neighbourhood.

The current trustees are

  • Suzy Anderson

  • Andrew Colville

  • Alexander Galitzine (Treasurer)

  • Vanessa Gordon

  • Barry Munday (Chairman)

  • Lloyd North

  • Maha Sarkis

  • Jacqueline Tucker

  • Anthony Walker

We also co-opt members who are able to provide specialist skills and advice.



There are several ways in which the special significance of our built environment can be recognised and for those of us who live in Conservation Areas their designation is of particular importance.   Unlike ‘designated heritage assets’ such as listed buildings which were designated by central government as Heritage Assets, Conservation Areas are the responsibility of Local Government.   A conservation area is defined as ‘an area of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance’ (Section 69 of the 1990 Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act).


The Edwardes Square Scarsdale and Abingdon Conservation Area (ESSA) was first designated as such in January 1970, and was largely based on Edwardes Square, Pembroke Square, Abingdon and Scarsdale Villas, Alma Terrace, Allen Street and Earls Court Road.   The area was extended substantially in 1974 and then in June 1982 Allen Mansions, Illchester Mansions, the Royal Naval Provost Headquarters, Wynnstay Gardens and Kensington High Street 197-213 (the odd numbers) were added.    Most of the Conservation Areas in the Borough have now been reviewed, apart from the ESSA area for which studies have been prepared by ESSA and are awaiting final consideration by the Borough Planners.  This would include the rationalisation of some further boundaries as anticipated in the RBKC Edwardes Square Scarsdale and Abingdon Conservation Area Policy Statement.

The views expressed by ESSA for the Conservation Area Review identify three main character areas: 


  1. The area to the west of Earls Court Road which is focused around Edwardes and Pembroke Squares

  2. The terraces of houses from the east of Earls Court Road to Marloes Road and including Scarsdale and Abingdon Villas, Abingdon Road and Allen Street

  3. The North-East part of the Conservation Area which was developed in the late 19th Century to include a number of red brick Mansion Blocks.


Villas, whether alone, semi-detached or as terraces and squares, dominate the building types in the area.  Stucco is used as dressing and in some cases as complete facings to the ground floor with decorative window surrounds to the upper floors.   Edwardes Square was one of the first formal developments along Kensington High Street having started building in 1811 with houses lining the main road as far as Earls Court Lane (Road).  A toll gate controlled this junction between Kensington to the west and Earls Court to the south.   In 1819 an Act of Parliament was passed for paving, lighting, watching, watering, planting and improving Edwardes Square.


Mews.  There are a number of small mews developments such as Lexham Mews or Adam and Eve Mews, which were situated to provide industrial or commercial accomodation, partly because the new flat occupants who crowded into the district after 1885 had no need for their own stables.  Many of the mews properties, regardless of their original use, were converted to houses or flats.


Artists’ Studios.   There are a number of artists’ studios in small groups around the Conservation Area which provide a distinctive building type.   It is sad that, although a limited number of studios have survived, most have now been taken over to provide attractive and valuable houses or flats.    The Supplementary Planning Guide on Studios provides a useful guide to the re-use of these buildings.


Public Houses.  There are a number of these in the area, many of which were related to local breweries, for example the Britannia at 1 Allen Street and the Britannia Tap in Warwick Road, both of which were linked to the Britannia Brewery and were close to the docks situated near Warwick Road.   The Star and Garter stood at the corner of Kensington High Street and the Earls Court Road until it was converted to a Lyons Corner House in 1910 which was sadly hit by a flying bomb in 1944.


Retail buildings on a small scale have developed in several locations and in many cases have made a   positive contribution to the character of the area. These include the eastern end of Stratford Road, the northern end of Earls Court Road and Abingdon Road, and the terrace in Kensington High Street adjoining St Mary Abbot’s Place.


The following public buildings in the area are among those which contribute to its character.


St. Sarkis Armenian Church, listed grade II in January 1981.

Our Lady of Victories, Kensington High Street.

St Philips Earls Court Road.

St. Mark’s Coptic Church.

Kensington United Reformed Church, Allen Street.

New Apostolic Church, Warwick Gardens.             

The Church of Christian Science, Wrights Lane.

Police Station, Earls Court Road.

A wide range of primary schools.


The ESSA Conservation Area Policy Statement illustrates with attractive pen and ink drawings many of the buildings in the area including Rassells the Nurserymen at the eastern end of Pembroke and overlooking the Earls Court Road.  Yet another example of the variety of building types in the area which contribute to its character and charm.


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