The government requires that the local authorities consult the public, the “stakeholders”, when developing or changing 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

Below you find some of the Kensington Society consultation comments since 2012. Multiple consultations on the same issue have been placed together. SPD is short for “Supplementary Planning Document”, and dates in parenthesis show the consultation period(s).

As part of the council’s new Local Plan review, an Issues and Options document – raising issues that the council thought could be the main issues for the new Local Plan – was consulted on from 26 July 2021 to 4 October 2021.

It was the second of three preliminary consultations before a draft version of the new Local Plan will be ready for consultation during the summer/autumn 2022. The new Local Plan is expected to come into force during 2023.

The consultation can be found here.

The Kensington Society comments and response:

2021 NLPR Issues & Options – KS response

In April 2021, the council held a consultation of its draft SPD for the Kensal Canalside Opportunity Area, which seeks to provide principles and framework for the delivery of at least 3,500 new homes and 2,000 new jobs on the boroughs largest development site.

The consultation can be found here.

The Kensington Society comments and response:

2021 Draft Kensal Canalside SPD – KS response

Added 01/08/2021

As soon as the council had adopted its 2015 local plan, work began on a revision it (known as a local plan partial review, LPPR), with three initial consultations running in stages between December 2015 and March 2017.

As any changes to a local plan must be approved by the government, i.e. the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (who at the time was Saijd Javid), who in turn relies on the expertise of a planning inspector, a first draft was submitted to the assigned inspector, Mike Hayden, at Planning Inspectorate in May 2017.

Shortly thereafter, on 14 June 2017, the Grenfell Tower disaster happened, and this made the council realise that many of the specified plans in the LPPR would have to be suspended or changed, so it asked for a postponement of the inspector’s hearings, in order to produce a revised version of the LPPR, which Mike Hayden agreed to.

In January 2018, the council received a response from Mike Hayden regarding the first draft. His response contained a number of “matters, issues and questions” (MIQs). This resulted in a fourth consultation held between 9 January and 9 February 2018.

In February and March 2018, Mike Hayden held the public examination hearings in Kensington Town Hall. In July, he sent the council an interim report, where he asked for some further clarifications regarding the councils 5-year plan, so the council outlined this in a supplementary document, which was consulted on in April 2018.

The documents involved in these consultations, as wello as the whole process can be found here.

The Kensington Society made numerous comments to the many consultations, and below are the most important ones:

2018 LPPR MIQs issue 2a and 2b – KS response

2018 LPPR MIQs issue 2c Places – KS response

2018 LPPR MIQs issue 3a Housing – KS response

2018 LPPR MIQs issue 3b Fostering Vitality – KS response

2018 LPPR MIQs issue 3c, 3d & 3e – KS response

2018 LPPR EX0016 issue 3b Mix of uses in town centres – KS response

2018 LPPR EX024 suppl. statement, housing land supply – KS response

2018 LPPR EX026 5-year housing land supply – KS response

In January 2019, Planning Inspector Mike Hayden produced his report of the examination, where he stated that he  found the policies behind the LPPR largely “sound”, but suggested a number of minor modifications, which the council implemented.

The final LPPR was adopted by the council on 11 September 2019, resulting in the 2019 local plan, which can be found here.

Work on a new LPPR is already underway, and its first consultation was held in September-November 2020.

Added 01/08/2021

In 2012, the council began to formulate a new basement policy in order to get some kind of control over the basement craze that had begun in the early 2000s, as the Subterranean Development SPD from 2009 hadn’t been able to slow it down.

As part of that work, the draft of a special chapter on basements, CL7, in the Core Strategy Policy (which forms part of the Local Plan) was on public consultation between 12 February and 26 March 2014 to see if the policy could be regarded “sound” before being submitted for approval to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, who at the time was Eric Pickles.

Link to the council’s 2014 consultation on CL7: Basements

The Kensington Society comments and response:

2014 Policy CL7 Basements – KS response

“Core Strategy Policy CL7: Basements” was adopted by the council on 21 January 2015, and formed the basis for the new draft Basement SPD, which was first consulted on in February – April 2015, then consulted in a revised form in June – August 2015, and finally had a consultation focussing on the chapter about noise, vibration and dust in November-December 2015.

The current Basement SPD was finally adopted by the council on 14 April 2016 and can be downloaded here.

Updated 20/07/2021

Between 12/02/2014 and 26/03/2014, the council consulted on the final draft of the Conservation and Design policy, as a followup of an earlier consultation in 2013.

Link to the consultation: Adopted Conservation and Design Policy Review – Feb 2014

The Kensington Society comments and response:

Kensington Society comments on Conservation and Design Policy

The policy was adopted on 3 December 2014 and can be downloaded via this link.

Updated 19/07/2021

In 2014, the council presented the draft for its new community infrastructure levy (CIL), a system of charges levied on developers to help with the funding of the infrastructure needed to support their development. The Kensington Society was invited to comment on a preliminary version of the draft, before also commenting when the public consultation on the schedule took place, between 21 January to 23 February 2014.  The public examination of the schedule was held on 9 June 2014.

Link to the current CIL.

Link to the 2014 CIL consultation.

The Kensington Society’s comments and questions:

2014 Preliminary draft CIL charging schedule – KS response

2014 draft CIL charging schedule – KS response

Updated 16/07/2021

The council’s draft Notting Hill Gate SPD (supplementary planning document) was available for comments for eight weeks from November 2013 to January 2014.

As this was an extremely important document, outlining the intended future for Notting Hill Gate, the Kensington Society chose to not just comment on the draft proposal, but also to commission Malcolm Reading Consultants to produce an alternative SPD – with financial support from two neighbouring residents’ associations.

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

The Kensington Society comments and the alternative site proposal:

Kensington Society’s response letter to the draft Notting Hill Gate SPD

Kensington Society’s alternative draft Notting Hill Gate SPD

The Notting Hill Gate SPD is a classic example of what happens when property developers move faster than the development of a new SPD. When the SPD was adopted by the council, in May 2015, the developers of the Newcombe House site were already holding pre-application exhibitions for the public and had been in discussion with the planning department and local residents’ associations for more than a year; the developers of the former Book Warehouse complex were busy working on their second application; and the purchase of eight large buildings in Notting Hill Gate by a property developer keen on refurbishment were imminent. The final SPD is therefore very different from the draft: much shorter and much more vague, with several drawings and ideas clearly adopted from the developers.

The adopted SPD can be downloaded via this link.

Updated 24/07/2021

In 2013 it was decided that the 2008 Transport SPD (supplementary planning document) needed to be replaced. A draft SPD was presented in November 2013, with a consultation that ran for eight weeks to January 2014. It proposed simplified parking standards that would replace those set out in the Unitary Development Plan, and updated guidance for things like cycle parking, streetscape and construction traffic management plans (CTMPs).

Links to the 2013-2014 consultation and the 2015 consultation.

The responses to the first consultation formed the basis for a second draft SPD, which was consulted on February-April 2015. While the Kensington Society had many comments to the first draft, the second draft was largely supported.

The new Transport and Street SPD was adopted on 20 April 2016.

The Kensington Society comments and response:

Kensington Society comments on the 2013 draft Transport and Streets SPD

Updated 16/07/2021

In 2013, the sprawling Royal Brompton Hospital announced that it wanted to stay in Chelsea, and become a centre for specialist heart and lung treatment, in one single site instead of eight groups of buildings in four different areas. So the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust (RBHT) approached the council to develop a SPD for the hospital’s land, which would be a guide for both the development of new or refurbished buildings for the future hospital, as well as a guide for what to do with the redundant buildings and sites.

The work on that SPD began with a pre-consultation in the form of display of exhibition boards between 25 November 2013 and 9 December 2013 at Chelsea Library. This was followed by a public consultation of the draft SPD from 27 February 2014. It was originally intended to end on 10 April 2014 but was extended to 30 April 2014, due to the large public reaction.

The 2013 and 2014 consultation documents can be found here.

The Kensington Society comments and response:

2013 Royal Brompton Hospital pre-consultation – KS response

2014 Royal Brompton Hospital draft SPD – KS response

In 2020, it was announced that the RBHT would likely merge with St Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, which would likely result in the closure of Royal Brompton Hospital and the sale of the site for redevelopment. In an attempt to mitigate this, the council created a new draft SPD for the buildings, showing how many of them could be retained and improved for medical uses, thus turning this part of Chelsea into a centre of medicine next to the Royal Marsden Hospital and the Institute of Cancer Research. This draft SPD was subject to a six-week public consultation between 18 November and 30 December 2020. The Kensington Society did not participate in that consultation.

In February 2021, the merger happened. This made it urgent to finish the SPD, to ensure that prospective buyers of the four sites would feel obliged to take the SPD into consideration when planning the use of them, so the SPD was adopted through a key decision by the council’s lead member for Planning, Place and Environment, Johnny Thalassites on 4 May 2021.

The documents for the 2020 consultation can be found here, together with the 2021 adopted SPD, which can be downloaded via this link.

Updated 24/07/2021

In October 2012, the council held a consultation regarding the provision of housing within the borough, containing a number of options to address this. This consultation was used as a basis for the draft policy paper, consulted on in March to May 2013, which in turn was used when writing the draft document of the policy. Representations for the draft 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 the consultation:

The Kensington Society comments and response:

Kensington Society response to draft SPD on Housing, July 2013

Kensington Society Core Strategy Review Housing

Updated 10/07/2021

“Involving People in Planning” (IPIP) was document that was first published as a draft for comments for an eight week period from 6 December 2012, which, 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 the document was adopted by the council in December 2013 and can be downloaded here.

The Kensington Society comments and response:

Kensington Society’s 2013 response to Involving People in Planning

A draft for an updated and expanded version of the IPIP, now called Statement of Community Involvement (SCI), was presented in 2019, with one consultation running from March to May 2019 and a further consultation September-November  2019. This was adopted in February 2020 and can be read and downloaded here.

Updated 10/07/2021

Page updated 22/10/2021