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Council challenges Sadiq Khan’s approval of SimpsonHaugh scheme

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Kensington and Chelsea council has launched a High Court challenge to the Mayor of London’s decision to grant planning permission for SimpsonHaugh’s Kensington Forum

The local authority’s planning committee refused the proposed demolition and redevelopment of the 28-storey Richard Seifert-designed hotel in September last year.

However, Sadiq Khan called in the plans for the 1970s building and gave them the go-ahead in June, following a public hearing.

The council has now submitted a claim for judicial review against that decision. 

Councillor Johnny Thalassites, lead member for transport and planning at Kensington and Chelsea council, said: ‘The council remains very disappointed at the decision to grant permission for an even bigger building on this site that is completely against the clear wishes of local residents and utterly unsuited to its location.’

The site, currently occupied by a Holiday Inn hotel, is a 10-minute walk from tourist attractions including the Natural History Museum and the V&A. The proposed scheme comprises a part 30, part 22 and part nine-storey building including a 749-bedroom hotel, 340 serviced apartments, restaurants, bars, conferencing and leisure facilities, and homes. 

Residents’ groups objected on grounds including the height and scale of the building, and the loss of privacy and light for neighbouring properties. 

Following the mayor’s intervention the developer, Rockwell Property, and building owner, Queensgate Investment, upped the number of homes in the development from 46 to 62 and made them all for London Affordable Rent. The height of the part of the building containing the residential accommodation was increased from seven to nine storeys. 

The Greater London Authority hearing report in June said the design and layout principles were ‘well-considered’. 

It said: ‘The massing and layout respond to the site’s constraints and sensitivities including the character of the wider conservation areas, registered parks and gardens and listed buildings in proximity. The proposed tall building replaces the existing tall building and would provide a distinctive and high-quality Metropolitan-scale landmark.’ 

The report also noted that the project was delivering 100 per cent affordable housing ’in a borough that has consistently failed to meet its overall targets for the provision of additional homes and affordable units’. It said the proposals ‘would have an acceptable impact’ on its neighbours. 

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: ‘Sadiq is doing everything he can to build more council and genuinely affordable homes – that’s why London started building more council homes last year than in any year since 1984.

‘Because Sadiq called in this application, the developer agreed to triple the amount of genuinely affordable homes to 100 per cent, which is further proof that Sadiq’s approach is working and delivering the new social and affordable homes that Londoners desperately need.’

The AJ has contacted SimpsonHaugh for comment. 

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