The government requires that the local authorities consult the public, the “stakeholders”, when developing or altering certain policies or plans. The Kensington Society is very active in the consultation process. As this is the front-end of the planning process it is important that there is early engagement with the Society and any of the local “affected” parties and that they participate as soon as possible.

We have pressed for years to be involved in the early stages of policy development and in the formation of supplementary planning development plans (SPDs). In the past there was an almost total lack of involvement with the public until the draft document was completed, however, both through the requirements of the government as well as an understanding by some councillors that the involvement of the locals is not to be feared, we have succeeded.

There have been improvements in the way policies are adapted thorough consultation, however, recently we have become concerned with the implementation of the planning application process. We are particularly troubled by the pre-application process where a developer can pay large sums of money for advice from the planning department in the formulation of a planning application.

For larger and more complex developments, this process involves a planning performance agreement (PPA), with a contract between the developer and the council. The payment involved will depend on the size and complexity of the scheme. The council has published a charter explaining how these PPAs are supposed to work, which can be found here.

For smaller schemes, the council has a sliding scale of fees for providing ‘pre-application advice’ to an applicant. It offers three levels of service, with charges ranging from £230 to £870 depending on the nature of the applicant and of the development. More details and a table of the charges can be found here.

Other than the planning department’s request that the locals be consulted by the developer, we have no involvement in this process, and the information and advice provided by the council to the developer is deemed commercially confidential and is not made available to the public.

We have found that by the time an application is submitted there is little or no impact we can have as the proposal has been more or less agreed. In fact, the planning department will not consider any of our or the locals input during the pre-application stage and relies totally on the developer to tell the department what local residents are perceived to want.

In addition to the SPDs, we are very active in commenting on the numerous changes to the planning policies. “Housing and Enterprise” were consultations which did not generate much local reaction but there were very important changes to policy which we along with some of our affiliated societies commented upon. The “Basement” policy change generated considerable activity, while the “Conservation and Design” consultation and the “Miscellaneous” policy consultation generated less response as they were consaulted on at the same time as the controversial Basement draft policy.

However, all of the consultations are important. Our input along with our members and our affiliated societies can reinforce change for which the Council needs support from its residents. It can also combat the creeping powers of developers which threaten this borough.

Kensington Society consultation comments

1. Notting Hill Gate SPD (23/01/2014)

The Draft Notting Hill Gate supplementary planning document (SPD) was available for comments for 8 weeks from November 2013 to January 2014.

The RBKC link to the Notting Hill Gate consultation can be found here.

The Kensington Society comments and response and the alternative site proposal:

Kensington Society response letter to SPD draft Notting Hill Gate

Kensington Society Notting Hill Gate draft SPD alternative proposal

2. Royal Brompton Hospital (2014)

The draft SPD for the Royal Brompton Hospital’s land in Chelsea was made available for consultation from 27 February to Thursday 10 April 2014. However, due to the large public reaction the consultation was extended until Wednesday 30 April 2014.

The RBKC link to the consultation can be found here.

The Kensington Society comments and response:

Kensington Soceity response to draft SPD for the Royal Brompton Hospital

Kensington Society response to exhibition boards for Royal Brompton Hospital SPD

3. Basements (2014)

The council consulted on the “Publication Policies” relating to Basement development. The consultation ran from 12 February to 26 March 2014.  The council has made their submission to the Planning Inspectorate.  We will monitor the progress and announce to our members the date for the Examination in Public (EiP).

RBKC link to consultation:

The Kensington Society comments and response:

Kensington Society comments on Basement Policy March 2014

Kensington Society Response Basements Policy March 2014 Final

4. Conservation and Design (2014)

The Council consulted on the “Publication Policies” relating to Conservation and Design. The consultation ran from 12 February to Wednesday 26 March.

RBKC link to consultation:

The Kensington Society comments and response:

Kensington Society comments on Conservation and Design Policy

Kensington Society Response to Conservation and Design Policy review

5. Miscellaneous Matters (2013)

The document was published for comments from 21 March to May 2013. Various parts of the Core Strategy were reviewed including what the Council called ‘miscellaneous matters’ – matters not addressed in the other topic reviews, namely Conservation and Design, Enterprise, Housing, Public Houses and related uses and Basements.

RKBC link to consultation:

The Kensington Society comments and response:

KS Response Form for Miscellaneous

KS Response to Consultation on Miscellaneous Matters

Kensington Society comments on Miscellaneous Matters draft policy

6. Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) charges (2014)

The council’s draft community infrastructure levy (CIL) charging schedule has been published and contains the proposed rates for development in the borough. This will only be chargeable on additional floorspace for certain types of development as defined by the CIL regulations. Public consultation on the schedule took place between 21 January to 23 February 2014.  The public examination was held on 9 June 2014.

RBKC link to consultation:

The Kensington Society’s comment and questions:

Kensington Society comments on CIL Community Infrastructure Levy Draft Charging Schedule

Kensington Society comments on CIL Community Infrastructure Levy Draft Charging Schedule

7. The draft Transport and Streets SPD (2013-2014)

Consultation ran from November 2013 to  January 2014. This document is to replace the Transport SPD adopted in 2008.  The draft Transport and Streets SPD proposed simplified parking standards, that will replace those set out in the Unitary Development Plan, and update guidance for areas including cycle parking, streetscape and construction traffic management plans (CTMPs).

RBKC link to consultation:

The Kensington Society comments and response:

Kensington Society comments on Draft Transport SPD

Kensington Society tracked changes on Draft Transport and Streets SPD

8. Housing (2013)

In October 2012, the council published, for consultation, a document setting out the main issues relevant to the provision of housing within the borough, and setting out a number of possible options to address these. This was used to inform the draft policy paper, consulted on in March to May 2013, which in turn has been used to inform the current publication draft of the policy. Representations for the publication document ran from 9 July to 3 September 2013.  The document sets out what the council considered to be the appropriate policies to effectively address housing within the borough.

However, the draft planning policies relating to housing were not submitted for examination to the Planning Inspectorate at the end of September 2013 as originally intended. According to a notice on the RBKC website, dated 2 June 2014, the council is “taking the opportunity to review our evidence base and ensure that our draft policies are as robust as they can be before examination commences. Further details on the timetable will be announced in due course”.

RKBC link to consultation:

The Kensington Society comments and response:

Kensington Society response to draft SPD HOUSING July 2013

KS Core Strategy Review Housing

9. Involving People in Planning (2012-2013)

“Involving People in Planning” (IPIP) is document that was published for comments for an eight week period from 6 December 2012 and, according to the council, “sets out how views can be put forward when the council is making decisions about planning applications and setting planning policy. It also explains the process for developing a neighbourhood plan”.

The final version of this document was adopted by the council in December 2013 and can be found here.

The Kensington Society comments and response:

Kensington Society response to Involving People in Planning