This is the currently preferred design of the Newcombe House tower, presented as such by the developer at the public meeting on 29 March, but a week earlier another design was said to be the final one (shown below). Picture courtesy of Squire & Partners and Beltane. (Click to enlarge)
The plan for the new Newcombe House complex now totally revised
The latest plan for Newcombe House (at the corner of Notting Hill Gate and Kensington Church Street), that was first shown at a meeting for representatives of the local resident associations on 20 March 2023, is a radical change from the previous plan, presented in October 2022. The revamping of the tall Newcombe House building has been totally redesigned, the planned indoor shopping mall/food court has been scrapped, the doctor’s surgery in the affordable building will be occupy four of its eight floors instead of just one, and the public square facing Notting Hill Gate will be larger than originally planed and largely roofless. As before, the complex will only consist of offices and shops/restaurants – except for the affordable building on the Kensington Place corner, which will have four floors of socially rented flats.
According to developer, Beltane Asset Management, and the architects, Squire & Partners, the changes are largely a result of the consultations they have had since October with local resident associations, businesses, NHS and the council.
This new plan was shown for the public at a meeting arranged by the council’s planning department in Essex Church (112 Palace Gardens Terrace, just 150 metres from the site) on 29 March. Some 70 residents attended and could ask questions and voice their opinions after a brief presentation by Duncan Roe from the developer and Henry Squire from the architect firm.
Although most of what was being shown at the public meeting is likely to be what in the end will be applied for (the building application is planned to be submitted to the council in this quarter, April-June), this is still very much a work in progress. At the meeting with the resident associations on 20 March, Henry Squire explained that the final design of the Notting Hill tower was a toned-down version of an earlier design, because the council’s architectural board had stated that it wanted a more conventional design that didn’t stick out, but at the public meeting nine days later, that “rejected” design was put forward as the preferred design, as the architects and the developer feel it is more in tune with the more “adventurous” look of Notting Hill Gate.
The Newcombe House tower and the public square
The planned refurbishment of the Newcombe House tower building has undergone a radical change since October. The previous idea consisted of a refurbishment of the existing tower, with three more floors added, containing lots of balconies and green spaces, and it had a seven floor lower building in front (a design idea pinched from the previous developer’s plan). However, that lower front building has now been removed, and the tower building will instead be 50% wider towards Notting Hill Gate, all the way up to the top. As a result, the area available for the public square will be larger, and most of it will be open air (previously almost 80% was under the front building).
The height of the building will remain as planned, 15 floors. The two vertical groups of greened balconies towards Kensington Church Street have been replaced by a single group of balconies, and the horizontal ledges encircling the building on each floor have been replaced by lots of very large and tall windows.
As the indoor shopping street in the Kensington Church Street building has disappeared, the walkway from Notting Hill Gate into the building has been replaced with a large entrance for the various offices occupying the building.
A covered colonnade will run between the building and the public square. The colonnade will also continue down Kensington Church Street, giving pedestrians some shelter on rainy days.
The Kensington Church Street building
The original indoor shopping street and its shops and restaurants would have covered most of the ground floor of the Kensington Church building, but that has been removed in this new design. Instead, the ground floor will now consist of a second entrance to the offices, a large office cantina facing the listed tube station roof, and three retail areas with entrances from Kensington Church Street. Those retail spaces can be divided into smaller units, so they can house more than three shops or eateries.
Between the station roof and the building there will be a 3 metre wide garden, accessible from the cantina. This means that the building will be further away from the houses along Jameson Street than originally planned. Also, a 3 metre wide public colonnade will be inset on the ground floor along Kensington Church Street, in order to provide more space for pedestrians. As before, the west side of the building, facing Jameson Street, will consist of stepped up terraces, thus moving the tallest parts of the building away from Hillgate Village as much as possible.
However, with a height of six commercial floors plus ventilation housing on top, the building will be substantially higher than those on the opposite side of Kensington Church Street.
The corner building
If this had been a largely residential site, as the previously approved development was, a percentage of the residential space would have had to be set aside for affordable housing. However, this is a commercial site, so there is no such legal commitment – except that existing affordable housing must be replaced. And Royston Court, the building at the corner of Kensington Church Street and Kensington Place, had a number of small socially rented flats for former rough sleepers atop the Kensington Place restaurant and fish shop,
So the new eight floor building in that corner will also have socially rented flats on the top four floors. The exact number of flats will be decided in discussions with the council, which afterwards will hand those flats over to one of the housing associations that the council collaborate with.
Please note that the eight floors will have residential ceiling heights, which are lower than commercial ceilings. We do not yet know how high the buildings will be in metres, except the tower building (58 metres, compared to 46 metres today).
Below those flats, there will be a large GP surgery, covering the ground floor and the three floors above. The surgery will also have a basement storage area, and there will possibly be two car parking spaces, reserved to the surgery and handicapped patients, in the short Newcombe Street immediately behind the surgery.
A new, large surgery on the site has been a long standing demand from the resident associations in the area, as at least two existing surgeries just north of Notting Hill Gate are about to be closed. The previous developer had one in their plan, and now there is one in this plan as well. Incidentally, this means a new surgery just a few metres from the former Kensington Place Surgery (on the other side of the Bethesda Baptist Church), which closed in 2012.
There will be no car parking underneath the complex. Instead, the basements will be dominated by bicycle storage areas, changing rooms for the bicyclists, plant rooms, two refuse storage rooms (from where refuse will be transported by lift up to the service bay for refuse collection), as well as general storage general storage. The basements will mainly be under the Kensington Church Street building and the corner building, as the tower, due to building restraints, has only a small basement.
The next steps
The developer intends to submit a formal planning application to the council’s planning department in this quarter, i.e. within the next few months. This will be followed by the statutory consultation period (13 weeks for major applications), during which the public and organisations can submit their views.
Once the council has decided, the London mayor’s office will be given a couple of weeks to determine if it agrees with the council or wants to take over the application (i.e. start its own round of discussions with the developer and then decide). If the application is ultimately rejected, the developer may appeal to the government’s housing secretary (Michael Gove right now), who in turn may refer the case to the Planning Inspectorate for a review and decision.
However, the developer hopes for a fairly quick, positive decision during the autumn, allowing them to start the development in early 2024 and have the project finished by early 2026.
This design of the tower was presented as the final design at a meeting for the local resident associations on 20 March, but at the public meeting on 29 March the design shown in the main picture was presented as the preferred one. Picture courtesy of Squire & Partners and Beltane. (Click to enlarge)
Click on one of the pictures in the gallery above, in order to step through them in full size and read the captions. All pictures in the gallery are courtesy of Squire & Partners and Beltane.
Some 70 residents came to the public meeting in Essex Church on 29 March, where the latest plans for the Newcombe House complex were presented. (Click to enlarge)
First published 05/04/2023