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KPF luxury retirement scheme in Kensington rejected by mayor’s office

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The London mayor’s office has refused permission for KPF’s luxury retirement scheme in Kensington, west London, because of its low levels of affordable housing 

Deputy mayor Jules Pipe refused to back Westbourne Capital Partners’ redevelopment of Heythrop College in Kensington Square into 142 new apartments with five affordable homes – even though it had been approved by Kensington and Chelsea Council.

Pipe said while the majority would be retirement properties, the affordable offer fell ‘well short’ of the mayor’s threshold of 35 per cent affordable housing. 

The developer had argued that because the properties were retirement housing, the mayor’s affordable housing targets did not apply.

But Pipe said while ‘we agree there is the need for retirement properties in this area, the mayor and I are clear that developments of this kind should always meet his minimum target for affordable housing’. 

City Hall pointed out that in the 12 months to April 2018, only 89 new affordable homes were completed in Kensington and Chelsea.

It is the second KPF-designed scheme thrown out over its levels of affordable homes, following the rejection of its £500 million Bermondsey biscuit factory scheme for Grosvenor in January.

Johnny Sandelson, director at Westbourne Capital Partners said he was ‘naturally disappointed’ by the decision.

‘We have worked very closely with [Kensington and Chelsea] over the last 18 months and we all believe this an excellent proposal which provides much-needed specialist accommodation for this particular demographic.

‘We are meeting with our advisers over the coming days to strategise a route forward to realise our ambitions on this important site.’

Reacting to the decision, councillor Will Pascall, Kensington and Chelsea’s planning chief said: ‘We are disappointed the mayor would aim to deny vulnerable older people the chance to live in one of the 150 much-needed extra care homes this development would create.

’‘We ask the mayor to be reasonable and help older people find a suitable home for themselves in their local area when they retire.

‘The council’s belief in affordable and social housing can be seen in bricks and mortar – over 400 affordable homes have been built in the borough between 2014 and 2018, and around the borough, the council plans to build 600 new council homes.’

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Readers' comments (2)

  • What percentage of units on new council estates should be for sale at 'unaffordable' prices?

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  • What sort of market do you envisage? In the case of the Kensington 'retirement' development - and given the 'particular demographic' - perhaps the apartments include accommodation for live-in staff.
    Otherwise, the carers and cleaners and fetchers and carriers might find themselves in another 'particular demographic' forced to live illegally in back garden sheds and lock-up garages scattered across parts of West London - the city's hidden architecture of shame.

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