Anthony Walker is Chairman of the prominent Edwardes Square Scarsdale and Abingdon Association in Kensington, which works tirelessly on behalf of local residents to maintain the character of the area. Here he talks about some of the activities the Association is currently involved with.
The Edwardes Square Scarsdale and Abingdon Association was formed some forty years ago to keep an eye on the Edwardes Square Conservation Area, particularly on planning applications. Our range of activities has expanded over time and now includes a Mansion Block Group and a Local Business Group; we note all current planning and licensing applications and take an active role in discussions with the Council on emerging policy affecting the future of our area.
The new policy for basements was adopted at the beginning of the year and you might be excused for thinking that this was the end of the story but it certainly is not. To support the Policy the Council have been working on a replacement SPD (supplementary planning document) to flesh it out; this has been released for consultation and should be adopted by the end of the year. ESSA has always recognised that there is a need for basement development but has seen the importance of controlling the antisocial effect of the building works. In particular this involves noise and disturbance, combined with improved construction procedures and traffic management. At last the Council is enforcing this aspect with a welcome degree of rigour and we have constant applications to examine and feedback on. Many are rejected which results in new applications or in some cases in the developer’s contractor taking the decision to appeal.
The Odeon Cinema
This is no longer a cinema but still presents an active planning issue: there are in fact three active applications at the moment. The consent first granted a decade ago for the cinema site with no added extensions is still alive and could be implemented; then there was an application to increase the height of the building over the Odeon portico, which was to be used for residential access only. This application also removed the entrance for most of the cinema space to the Earls Court Road and lost the retail frontage, which in our view affected the vitality of the High Street. This application was refused in January but has now been taken to appeal and will be heard in January 2016. The current application, which was approved by RBKC in July, has yet to be submitted to the Mayor of London for approval. This retains the cinema portico as the access to the cinemas and combines the cinema site with the adjoining mail sorting office and post office sites. ESSA felt that this was a substantial improvement on the previous scheme and one to be welcomed. In the interests of protecting our local environment, its vitality and appearance, we consider it necessary to fight the appeal of the second application and, in conjunction with others, we have obtained Rule 6 status at the inquiry which means that we shall be entitled to see both the appellant’s case and the response by RBKC, and will be able to cross examine witnesses at the hearing.
A final point is that all the Conservation Areas are currently under review and in order to ensure that local opinion is taken into account ESSA has prepared our own assessment with the help of architectural historian Neil Burton. We have submitted this assessment to the planners for consideration, which will probably take place early next year. We look forward to telling you more about this exciting new document.
Chairman, Edwardes Square, Scarsdale and Abingdon Association