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Mayor calls in SimpsonHaugh’s controversial Seifert hotel scheme in Kensington


London mayor Sadiq Khan has called in SimpsonHaugh’s plans for the redevelopment of a Brutalist Richard Seifert-designed hotel in Kensington after the local council rejected the scheme

Kensington and Chelsea Council’s planning committee refused to grant permission in October last year for the demolition of the Kensington Forum, a 1970s building currently run as a Holiday Inn.

Councillors 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.

However the mayor’s office has now intervened and decided to call in the scheme, which includes 749 rooms, 340 serviced apartments, a spa, bars, restaurants and conference facilities as well as new homes.

Following the call-in, developer Rockwell Property and building owner Queensgate Investment have decided to increase the number of homes from 46 to 62 and make all homes London Affordable Rent, for households on low incomes.

It also tweaked the height of the podium from seven to nine storeys. 

A City Hall spokesperson said the application proposed a new hotel and conference facilities close to central London, as well as new homes which would ‘contribute to the borough’s housing target’.

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. 

Kensington and Chelsea Council planning chief Will Pascall said: ‘We are disappointed the mayor has chosen to overrule the concerns of local people.

‘The current plans will lead to a huge building completely against the wishes of local residents and utterly unsuited to their needs.

‘We hope that the mayor respects the wishes of local residents and accepts the council’s decision.’

Rockwell Property’s head of planning Jonathan Manns said: ‘We remain committed to delivering this world-class development which will provide significant public benefits for both the local and wider community, including a new publicly accessible garden square, numerous jobs, affordable homes and substantial improvements to the public realm.

‘Furthermore, our revised scheme includes 100 per cent affordable housing provision, meeting a clear and pressing need in the borough.’

Consultation on the reworked scheme runs until 5 June.

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5203362 97b1586f 1024x1024

Source: © Copyright Richard Sutcliffe

Richard Seifert’s Kensington Forum Hotel


Readers' comments (2)

  • Michael Bach

    This proposal is contrary the development plan - London Plan and the Local Plan - with regard to the tall buildings proposed and the resulting impacts.

    It is a pity that the photographs used to present the proposed scheme have not used the same lens - it is amazing how using a wide-angle lens and selective cropping can "misrepresent" both the proposed buildings and the existing building.

    The bottom line is a set of buildings twice as bulky as the current building, which itself busted all the 1970s policies on height, density and bulk. Today the site is surrounded by conservation areas on all sides.

    What is needed is not to replace one eyesore with another twice as bulky, but do as Terry Farrell did for the Marsham Street towers (MHCLG's HQ) - replace an offensive development with one that removes the harm - just as much floorspace but no longer imposing both the locality or the skyline.

    It is time for the Mayor to start applying the London Plan policies.

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  • The Mayor has called this scheme in twice and is minded to overrule the local Planing Committee and 800 local objectors and APPROVE the replacement of the Seifert anomaly with a building that is twice the volume of the existing. It has two towers perched over a 9 storey slab block. The slab block itself is twice as high as the neighbouring 4-5 story historic terraces that define the character of the neighbourhood. Why on earth does the Mayor consider supporting this scheme represents good stewardship of our beautiful city? Does anyone think this scheme is of any architectural or urban quality at all?

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