The Kensington Society blog

What will happen to Europe’s largest roof garden?

What will happen to the unique roof garden on top of the Derry & Toms building on Kensington High Street? It was once the largest in the world and is still the largest single roof garden in Europe. It was suddenly closed in the beginning of January and there are rumours that the freeholder has instructed an estate agent to try to find a new leaseholder after Virgin, but nobody knows for sure.

LGA demands planning permission for all phone boxes

Local Government Association (LGA), which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, has urged the government to scrap the permitted development right which enables phone companies to install telephone boxes without planning permission, as the new "boxes" are nothing but advertisement panels making use of an old law to circumvent planning control. This as BT has begun replacing 750 of their traditional phone boxes in London with a 3 metre high two-sided advertisement tower, the InLink.

Half of the households still in hotels

On Thursday, a televised Grenfell Tower national memorial service will be held in St Paul's Cathedral.
Six months after the Grenfell Tower fire, only 45 of the 208 households have moved into new permanent homes. Of the remaining, more than 100 are still living in hotels.

Critical report from Hammersmith & Fulham

On 6 December, Hammersmith & Fulham council published a report about H&Fs response to the Grenfell Tower disaster and RBKC’s lack of interaction with H&F immediately after the disaster. It is in part a very critical report.

The final death toll

On 16 November, five months after the devastating Grenfell Tower fire, the Metropolitan Police announced that they had recovered the last of the bodies and that the final death toll was 71: seventy who died in the fire and one stillborn baby whose mother had inhaled large doses of cyanide laced smoke during the escape.

Notting Hill police station AVC protected

The Met has decided to close and sell Notting Hill police station, in spite of all the opposition during the consultation. However, Kensington Society has succeeded in getting the building designated an AVC (Asset of Community Value). In addition, the council's policy CK1 clearly states that sites of social or community use will not be allowed to be used for something else if other social or community use can be found for them - and there are many possible uses for the the police station. The fight continues!

Why we support the Newcombe House plans

In December, the RBKC planning committee is expected to take a decision about the new planning application for the Newcombe House project in Notting Hill Gate. In spite of its 18-storey tower and hundreds of objections from individuals who hate the idea of a large tower block in the area, Kensington Society and three of the four established residents' associations in the area have decided to support the project. Why?

Council support for our police campaign

In early September, the Kensington & Chelsea council joined Kensington Society’s campaign to halt the erosion of police services in the name of austerity. At the same time, the campaign has grown. It now has its own website and and more than 2,000 have so far signed the 38 Degrees petition.

Beloved Notting Hill trattoria threatened

Da Maria, the little Neapolitan "trattoria" next door to the Gate Cinema in Notting Hill Gate, which has been run by the same family since 1980, is under threat. The owner of the property has applied for a merger of the cinema and the restaurant, in order to make the cinema foyer a little larger.

Public conference about holiday short lets in RBKC

On Wednesday 13 September, the council’s short term holiday lettings working group will hold a public conference in the Small Hall at Kensington Town Hall about the recent avalanche of holiday short-lets in London, and the effects this has had on neighbourhoods, housing and the hotel industry in the borough. In RBKC alone, some 8,000 homes are currently being let to tourists and business visitors.

Second meeting about police station closure

The Metropolitan Police invites all residents to a second face-to-face discussion with representatives for the local police force and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), about the proposed closure of Notting Hill police station. The meeting will be held at St John's Notting Hill Church, Landsdowne Crescent, on Wednesday 6 September at 7pm.

The week that was: 31 July - 6 August

During the seventh week after the Grenfell Tower fire, Elaine Elkington was appointed interim chief executive of KCTMO, the Treasury’s high interests rates to councils came under the spotlight, the second cladding combination test made a further 111 high-rise residential buildings officially unsafe, and the organisers of the Notting Hill Carnival announced their plans for honouring the Grenfell victims.