London mayor Sadiq Khan has overturned the local council and approved SimpsonHaugh’s plan for the redevelopment of a Brutalist Richard Seifert-designed hotel in Kensington
In October last year Kensington and Chelsea Council’s planning committee refused to grant permission for the demolition of the Kensington Forum, a 1970s building currently run as a Holiday Inn.
However, the mayor’s office has now stepped in to approve the scheme, which includes a 749-room hotel, a spa, bars, restaurants and conference facilities, plus housing.
Previously the number of affordable homes in the scheme was set at 42 but, following Khan’s intervention, the developer has increased the number to 62 homes for social rent.
Councillors originally threw out the scheme after it received hundreds of objections from residents opposed to the proposals for a podium with two towers of 22 and 30 storeys above.
At 28 storeys, the existing 1972 building, designed by Richard Seifert & Partners, is already the borough’s second tallest, but residents argued the new scheme would replace one ‘out-of-place monstrosity’ with a bigger one.
The intervention is the mayor’s second in Kensington and Chelsea in recent months. The mayor also stepped in after the Tory-run authority approved a KPF-designed retirement scheme, deciding to reject the proposal because of its low levels of affordable housing.
Announcing the approval, Khan took aim at Kensington and Chelsea for their record on building affordable housing, saying: ‘I welcome the developer committing to provide 100 per cent social housing in this scheme – in a borough that has consistently failed to meet its housing targets.
‘I’m clear that I will do everything in my power to increase the delivery of new social rented and other genuinely affordable homes across the capital.’
Kensington and Chelsea Council’s planning chief Johnny Thalassites said: ’We’re disappointed with the decision to approve an even bigger building on this site that is completely against the clear wishes of local residents and utterly unsuited to its location.
’Affordable housing is a huge priority for us, locally we have committed to building 600 homes, at least 300 of which will be affordable, over the next five years, but the amount of affordable housing space in this plan is proportionally very small.’
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Source: © Copyright Richard Sutcliffe