Memorial Park – what are the Council’s plans?

For many months there has been growing confusion about the Council’s intentions for Memorial Park (sometimes known as St Marks Park).

During the summer RBKC carried out a consultation, in the form of a questionnaire on possible ‘improvements’ to the park.  Many felt that the questionnaire was weighted towards the idea of installing an all-weather floodlit football pitch (i.e. with an artificial surface) in place of the current grassed football pitch on the west side of the park.

This area is used by the Kensington Dragons youth team at weekends and for informal games, dog-walking, and picnics in the summer.  As part of a S106 planning agreement between RBKC and the developers of Argyll Place in Pangbourne Avenue, the sum of £150,000 was set aside before the development was built, for improvements to the park.  The first item on the list in this legal agreement is refurbishment of the grassed pitch, which needs better drainage.

The Council had 214 responses to the survey, and has analysed these.  The results are shown below (in one of several slides that will be shown at the SHRA/StQW open meeting on November 24th).   The was a strong majority against the idea of an artificial pitch.

Mem Park slide 1

Subsequent to seeing these results, Cabinet member Cllr Tim Ahern asked that the consultation exercise be extended into a second phase, with further postcards delivered to residents in a wider radius from the park (650m rather than the original 400m).  This ‘phase 2′ of the consultation ends on November 30th.

The survey form remains available on the RBKC website at this link.  The website now has a note asking people not to return a second response if they did so in the first consultation.  This was not clear at the start of ‘Phase 2′.

When discussed at the open meeting of St Helens Residents Association/StQW Forum on 9th June 2016, the clear majority view was that a floodlit artificial pitch is not what local people want to see in the park.

There are obvious issues of noise and light pollution for immediate neighbours.  For other visitors, the high wire fencing would detract from the views of what has always been an extensive grassed open space.  Use of this part of the park becomes limited to a single activity, in what has always been a family park oriented park with its regular dog walking community.  All weather pitches are already available at Westway.

These views were confirmed by the responses to the ‘phase 1′ survey, as shown below:

Mem Park slide 2

A two stage consultation exercise, covering two different areas, is confusing enough. Even greater confusion has arisen from the wording used in three different versions of the Council’s Parks Strategy 2016-25.   A first version of this document was considered by the Council’s Public Real Scrutiny Committee last March, and a second by the Council’s Cabinet in May.  A third version was launched in June and remains on the Councils website.   The changes of wording in relation to the first ‘objective’ of the Strategy for Memorial Park is shown in the slide below:

Mem Park slide 4 V2

We have been assured by RBKC officers that the third set of wording above is that included in the ‘final’ version of the Parks Strategy, and that no Council decision on an all-weather pitch has yet been taken.  But various exchanges between Pangbourne Avenue residents and Cllr Nick Paget-Brown (Council Leader) suggest that a decision has already been made.  The Ask Nick session at St Helens Church on November 23rd may provide clarity.

Meanwhile, Prince William came to Memorial Park prior to Remembrance Sunday, to designate the park as a Centenary Field.  These designations were introduced recently as part of the First World War commemorations, in a programme organised by Fields In Trust.

The designation will give added protection to the park as open space.  As far as we can make out, it does no affect whether part of the park becomes an all-weather pitch.  If the Council were to proceed with such a proposal, aspects such as floodlighting and fencing would need planning permission.  Public consultation on a planning application would also be required.

We hope that matters will not reach this stage, and that the Council decides without further delay to use the £150,000 sum already secured through a planning agreements, to install better drainage and refurbish the existing grass pitch.

 

Prince William meeting local school children on his visit to Memorial Park

Prince William meeting local school children on his visit to Memorial Park

 

Proposals for ‘North Kensington Gate’ – the latest threat to our area

At the joint meeting of the Association and the StQW Neighbourhood Forum on June 9th, we looked at images of two proposed new developments on the eastern side of Scrubs Lane.

Aurora Developments have now submitted separate planning applications to the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) for what is being badged as ‘North Kensington Gate North’ and ‘North Kensington Gate South’.  The sites are in fact in Hammersmith and not in North Kensington but the ‘Kensington’ label is no doubt seen as helping sales of the completed apartments.

The consultation page here on the OPDC website is the easiest route for finding your way to the details of the two applications.

The proposals for the northern site are the least contentious of the two.  An image of the completed development looks like this:

North building imageOn the southern site closer to the Grand Union Canal, a 22 storey tower is proposed.  The developers make much of the fact that earlier proposals were for 25 storeys, and that this height has been reduced in response to public consultation.

Both schemes are for residential apartments, with commercial/retail space on the ground floor.   The affordable housing elements are 29% (north) and 30% (south), i.e. below the 50% aspiration of Sadiq Khan as London Mayor.

Housing densities on both sites are very high, at around 450 housing units per hectare. This is justified on the basis that the while the location currently has very poor public transport accessibility, new rail connections will change this by 2026.  This assumes that a Crossrail station, HS2 station at Old Oak Common, and new Overground station at Hythe Road all come into operation by then.

For our neighbourhood, the biggest impact is that this will be the first of what threatens to become a series of  tall towers submitted for approval at ‘Old Oak Park’ (the Cargiant site) and along Scrubs Lane.

The 22 storey building (if approved) will look like this from Mitre Bridge on Scrubs Lane:

North Ken Gate South.final

The planning application is accompanied by a series of ‘representative views’ including one from Little Wormwood Scrubs.  The view will look like this CGI image below, with the new building clearly visible in the middle of what is now an empty skyline:

North Ken Gate South from Little Scrubs

So having lost our western skyline to the forthcoming 35 storey ‘Imperial Folly’, we now look likely to lose the currently unimpaired northern skyline from Little Scrubs.

We have to get used to the fact that ‘Old Oak’ (i.e. the area to the north of Wormwood Scrubs) is destined for 24,500 new homes and many more residential towers.  But it is depressing that this first major application in Scrubs Lane looks as though it is being ushered through the planning system by a Development Corporation very keen to see some early ‘catalysts’ rise from the ground – even when these planning applications conflict with the Corporation’s own emerging planning policies.

Scrubs Lane is defined as a ‘sensitive edge’ in the OPDC Draft Local Plan, given its proximity to the St Marys Cemetery Conservation Area and the Grand Union Canal.  A new Conservation Area (Cumberland Park) is due to be designated, protecting the Victorian factory buildings on the east side of Scrubs Lane.  But it seems to be OK to place a 22 storey tower in the midst of these.

Below is the future view from the Grand Union Canal, as shown in the planning application.

North Ken Gate from canal

The architects for both the northern and southern sites at North Kensington Gate are Allies and Morrison, a well-known and respected London firm.   We have asked the developer why the two buildings are so different.  The Planning Statement for the southern tower describes it as ‘elegant’.  This is not the adjective that the audience came up with when we showed an image of the building at our June 9th open meeting at St Helens Church Hall.

In London, there is a growing disconnect between what developers, planners and architects see as a good scheme, and the views of the London public.  This has become clear in opposition to the original design for the ‘Paddington Pole’ and on other major developments.

What has been built in Vauxhall and Battersea is causing growing public concern, with the prospect of residential towers standing there but now failing to sell to their intended offshore market.  A spread of ‘Nine Elms Disease’ to north-west London looks likely to be resisted fiercely over the coming months and years.

St Helens Residents Association will submit objections to the planning application for the southern tower, on grounds of non-compliance with the London Plan and the Local Plans of both LBHF and the OPDC (the latter of which will overtake the former by 2018).  Comments can be sent in to planningapplications@opdc.london.gov.uk.

The OPDC has arranged a session involving the developers Aurora, OPDC planning officers, and members of the public on October 19th at the Co-Club, 140 Wales Farm Road, North Acton, W3 6UG between 6.30pm – 8.00pm.  This is a less than ideal location for those who will be most affected by the development, but I will be there to try and make our voice heard.

Henry Peterson, Chair St Helens Residents Association

RBKC ideas for Kensington Memorial Park

The Council has published a consultation survey on potential improvements to Memorial Park.  Some but not all residents in surrounding streets received a leaflet giving details of how to find the survey. Below is the link to the online version of the survey on the RBKC website https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/survey/kmpimprovements2016/kmp_improvements_concept_ideas_phase_one.htm

The survey was discussed at the open meeting of SHRA/StQW Neighbourhood Forum on June 9th 2016, at St Helens Church hall.  The 60 people present felt that the survey was weighted towards seeking support for one main option – installing an all-weather pitch with floodlighting in place of the existing grass pitch in the west of the park.

Residents value the park as open green space which is peaceful and low-key.  All weather pitches come with tall fencing that is visually intrusive, as are floodlights.  It would mean that the existing grassed area could not be used for other activities, as at present.

The location of a floodlit pitch would be right outside the new development at Argyll Place and would be intrusive for residents there and along Pangbourne Avenue (see below).

Memorial Park

The back story is that funding of £150,000 is available for improvements to the park. This was part of the Section 106 contribution negotiated between the developer of Argyll Place and the Council, at the time when the development was granted planning permission.  This legal agreement included a specified list of improvements to the park, the first of which was for the grass pitch with no mention of an all-weather pitch of floodlighting.  Westway Sports Centre already provides these facilities.

The vote at the June 9th  meeting was unanimous that these funds should be used to bring the existing grass pitch back to a good state, clearing out the underground drainage system that is in place but which needs some work to ensure the grass is not waterlogged in winter months.  The Kensington Dragons youth teams use this pitch at weekend, leaving it available for other park users in the week.  This is seen as a good arrangement which should continue.

A letter has gone from St Helens Residents Association to the Council, setting out these views.  We hope that the Council will listen,  The letter can be seen at this link SHRA_to_RBKC on Memorial Park.V2final

 

 

 

 

Successful referendum for the StQW Neighbourhood Plan

As reported on our sister site at www.stqw.org, the referendum on the Draft StQW Neighbourhood Plan saw over 600 voters in the neighbourhood vote ‘yes’ to the Plan being adopted by the Council.

Of a total of 706 votes cast, 645 voted in favour, 54 against and there were 4 spoilt papers.  The results can also be seen here on the RBKC website.

The Council is due to adopt the StQW Neighbourhood Plan next month, and is already using its policies when deciding on planning applications.  For more information see at www.stqw.org, and thanks to all local residents who came out to vote.

 

Referendum on StQW Neighbourhood Plan – please vote on February 25th

After several years of work by the St Quintin and Woodlands Neighbourhood Forum, the neighbourhood plan for this area is about to be voted on by local residents.

The vote will take place on Thursday February 25th, at St Helens Church.  The Council will be running the vote, as for a local election.  The polling station will be open from 7am to 10pm.

If you are a resident living within the neighbourhood area, and on the RBKC electoral register, please come out to vote ‘yes’ in favour of the neighbourhood plan.  The Council will then adopt the StQW Draft Plan and use it when making future planning decisions in this area.

The policies in the Draft Plan will

  • protect from development the three St Quinbtin ‘backlands’ at Nursery Lane, the West London Bowling Club, and behind Kelfield Gardens.
  • bring back more life to Latimer Road, allowing for cafes, shops, creches. coffee shops and restaurants, as well as office uses.
  • allow ‘mixed use’ redevelopment of Units 1-14 Latimer Road
  • reduce the number of vacant shop units in St Helens Gardens and North Pole Road, by allowing a wider range of uses.
  • ensure that conservation policies for this area are more consistent and up to date

The StQW Neighbourhood Plan has been put together by local people and consulted on in two consultation exercises last year, receiving strong support.  It has been independently ‘examined’ at a public hearing last September, with the examiner subsequently supporting its main policy proposals.  Please help to ensure that it becomes part of the statutory Local Plan for our neighbourhood, by voting ‘yes’ on the 25th.

 

 

 

December 2015 – news remains good

At a meeting of the Council’s Public Realm Scrutiny Committee on November 25th, Councillor Tim Coleridge (Cabinet member for Planning) confirmed that the Council would be accepting all the conclusions of the independent examiner of the St Quintin and Woodlands Neighbourhood Plan.

This means that the verdict that the land at Nursery Lane should be formally designated as Local Green Space will proceed, as part of the StQW Plan, to be voted on in a referendum in the New Year.  A provisional date of 18th February for the referendum has been suggested, but we have pointed out that this is half term week for state and private schools in the neighbourhood, so many people will be away.  We will liaise with the Council on a an alternative date.

News about the Westway Trust is less good.  The Trust held its 2015 AGM on November 23rd at St Helens Church, but the formal business of the meeting had to be abandoned as a result of strong opposition from the public over recent Trust decisions.

As a residents association, we have tried hard over the last 7 years to persuade the Trust that it needs to listen more carefully to the views of local residents in the area.  There remain many residents who lived here in the 1960s and 1970s and who remember the building of the Westway.  The formation of what was then called the North Kensington Amenity Trust was the result of a local community making clear that the strip of 23 acres beneath the Westway should be managed for the benefit of local people, with plenty of the land made available for community and social uses..

Too often in recent years, the approach of the Trust has been to act as a commercial developer of the land that it holds ‘in trust’ from RBKC as its leaseholder, and from Transport for London as the freeholder.  This is ultimately ‘public’ land and not for a body which remains a charity (but which many view as insufficiently accountable) to dispose of with no consideration of the public good.

The saga of the advertising towers at the Sports Centre, on land leased by the Trust to JC Decaux, was one of the first planning issues that brought this association together in 2008.

We will continue to try to work with the Trust and to influence it to think through more carefully its proposals for ‘Portobello Village’ at the junction of the Westway and Portobello Road.  Initial plans exhibited by the Trust were badly received, and the Trust has accepted that it needs to take several steps back.

We hope that the Trust will now make increased efforts to rebuild its relationship with local residents.  It has dug itself into a hole which is deep, but with good will on all sides the position is recoverable.

 

 

 

November 2015 update on planning news – mostly good

As most local residents will have heard, the news in recent weeks has been good.  Our sister website at www.stqw.org carries the details on the outcome of the ‘examination’ of the St Quintin and Woodlands Neighbourhood Plan.

Independent examiner John Parmiter FRICS MRTPI supported the main proposals in the Draft Plan, put together by local residents over the past two years.  Provided that the Council (RB Kensington and Chelsea) does not attempt to overturn his recommendations, our three ‘backland’ green spaces will be protected for the forseeable future as Local Green Space, including the site at Nursery Lane.  And we should see more life restored to Latimer Road and to our shopping parades.

This should spell the end of proposals by Metropolis Property Ltd to build 20 new townhouses at Nursery Lane.  Their planning application emerged a year after we had written to the Legard family, owners of the site, telling them of our intentions for a neighbourhood plan.  The application was withdrawn in the summer, and we hope never to see re-surface.

Neither the Legard family as landowners, nor the developers, chose to speak to local residents until detailed plans had been drawn up for a scheme that few if any in the area wanted.  So if their plans are now derailed and prospective windfall profits lost, local sympathy is limited.

Meanwhile the Westway Trust has once again failed to talk to local residents before entering into a new deal with JC Decaux to add a digital advertising screen to the southern advertising tower at the Westway Sports Centre.  Since being built in 2008, the southern face of this tower (which is aimed at drivers on the West Cross Route) has remained blank.

JC Decaux and the Westway Trust clearly cannot resist the temptation to add an extra digital screen to part of a structure which they claim  is currently ‘devoid of advertising’ (as if local residents and motorists see this as a deprivation).

So this will be a further test case of the Council’s willingness to be firm in saying ‘no’ to further outdoor advertising along Westway.  No one needs it, and the Westway Trust should know better.  Our objection letter to the application can be seen here SHRA_to_RBKC on Decaux application Nov 2015..

 

 

 

August update on planning news

Our sister website at www.stqw.org carries details of the current ‘examination’ of the St Quintin and Woodlands Draft Neighbourhood Plan.  Independent examiner John Parmiter FRICS MRTPI has been engaged by Kensington and Chelsea Council to review to Draft Plan, and to ensure that it meets to necessary legal conditions to proceed to a local referendum.

His examination will include a public hearing on September 22nd, starting at 10.00 at St Helens Church.  More details of the agenda for this hearing are at www,stqw.org.

The main issues which will arise at the public hearing are the future of Latimer Road, and of the backland at Nursery Lane.  Housing developers Metropolis Property Ltd have withdrawn their application for 20 four bedroom homes, pending the examination of the StQW Draft Plan, and have submitted lengthy objections to the StQW Draft Plan during the recent round of consultation.

The Neighbourhood Plan offers local residents and businesses a real opportunity to have a greater influence on planning decisions in our local area.  We are hoping that the Plan’s proposals will be supported by the independent examiner, and that a referendum on the Plan will be organised by RBKC before Christmas 2015.

The long-running saga of the advertising tower at the Westway Sports Centre continues.  In the latest development, advertisers JCDecaux have appealed against a discontinuance notice, finally issued by Kensington and Chelsea Council in June.

The notice follows the decision by the Council in March 2015 to grant planning permission for a replacement tower, of a design that will be much less obtrusive in its impact on this part of the Oxford Gardens Conservation Area.  It seems that Westway Trust and JCDecaux have been unable to agree commercial terms on the deal for the replacement tower.

The Association has written to the Planning Inspectorate to ask that the appeal be dismissed, and the Council allowed to proceed with discontinuance action.  Local residents have been waiting since 2009 for the Council to honour its commitment to ensure that the present tower structure is dismantled.

Catch up on news for our neighbourhood

If you are a new arrival in the streets of the St Quintin Estate and its surrounding area, we hope you find this website useful.  The St Helens Residents Association welcomes new members to its current membership of 360 and you can join by emailing sthelensassn@aol.com. Membership is free and you will receive monthly newsletters.

The Association’s membership is shared with the St Quintin and Woodlands Neighbourhood Forum, a body set up in 2013 to prepare a neighbourhood plan for this area.  Information on the neighbourhood plan is at www.stqw.org.

Our neighbourhood is subject to many pressures for development, in an around the area.  As at April 2015, the live issues are

  • proposals for a housing development on one of the three remaining St Quintin backlands at Nursery Lane.   See at www.stqw.org for more details,
  • the Imperial College development at Imperial West (in Wood Lane).  This development is under construction.  It involves a number of very tall buildings, which will be very visible on the western skyline from our neighbourhood.  Our campaign website at www.imperialfolly.org.uk has all the details and the long history of our campaign against this scale and height of this development.
  • Plans of the newly established Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation, which include proposals for 24,000 new homes at Old Oak (the area immediately north of Wormwood Scrubs).  The Friends of Wormwood Scrubs have a website at http://www.saveourscrubs.org.uk/
  • The Neighbourhood Forum’s plans for Latimer Road, to widen the mix of activities in this street, attract creative small businesses, and to allow additional housing above commercial space, as set out in the Draft StQW Neighbourhood Plan (see at this link).

The residents association keeps an eye on all planning applications in the area, and works hard to ensure that all the good things about this neighbourhood are retained and that new development is of the kind that meets the needs of people in this area.

We are also involved in building a stronger sense of community and helping people to get to know their neighbours.  We have public meetings, at St Helens Church, and a noticeboard in Kelfield Gardens (on the side wall of the bakers, at St Helens Gardens).

We work to get vacant shop units filled, and have helped to make the West London Bowling Club in Highlever Road a new focus for social events and community gardening as well as lawn bowling.(see at http://www.westlondonbowlingclub.com/)

Please email us at sthelensassn@aol.com if would like any more information on the above, or to join our mailing list.

Henry Peterson, Chair, St Helens Residents Association

 

 

 

 

 

Bowling Club enters a new phase

West London Bowling Club started life in 1903 as one of several sports and recreation clubs on the ‘backland’ sites of the St Quintin Estate (entrance at 112 Highlever Road).

It is now the only one that survives and recently its future as a successful club looked precarious, with membership in decline.

But no longer.  Existing Club members and other local residents have come together to put the Club back on its feet.  Following a successful membership drive, the Club now has over 100 members.  These include those keen to learn to bowl, and those who want to help to widen the range of activities offered in the evenings and during the winter (non-bowling) season.

The Club’s AGM was held on 16th June and a new set of officers and management committee members were elected.  Positions for the Club’s officers were not contested, with longstanding Club member Pat White agreeing to serve as President and Bowls Secretary.   Those now involved as the Management Committee are as follows:

Chair Ruth Hillary, President and Bowls Secretary Pat White, Treasurer Tania Martin, Press Officer Philippa Collie Cousins, other committee members Emma Henderson, Joshua Millais, Mick Sutton, Sandra Sutton-Cleaver, Anita Williams.

The newly elected WLBC committee

The newly elected WLBC committee

The clubhouse has been refurbished and repainted, and much volunteer effort has gone into cleaning up the building and finding new furniture.

A new website has been set up at this link and you can contact the Club at Chair@westlondonbowlingclub.com.   There will be evening events at the Club, with lots of ideas coming forward for how best to provide food and drink in the future (the Club is not currently licensed, but members can bring their own).

Within a few months, the idea of the Club becoming a hub of social activity in this area is being turned into reality.  Thanks to a lot of hard work by its committee members, old and new.  Call in at weekends if you would like join, or learn more about bowling..

The bowling green and clubhouse

The bowling green and clubhouse