Scheme by Urban Sense would have replaced 1950s eyesore
A scheme by Urban Sense Architecture to bulldoze a 1950s office block and replace it with an 18-storey tower in Notting Hill has been thrown out.
Planning authority the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea refused to give the west London scheme the green light despite it being recommended for approval by the council’s own planning officers.
Explaining its decision to refuse planning, the committee said it had concerns regarding the height and design of the building along with the loss of affordable housing.
Under the plans, Cotton, Ballard & Blow’s Newcombe House would have been torn down and replaced with a mixed-use scheme with the 81 m high tower at its heart.
Skyline Campaign co-founder Barbara Weiss admitted the existing building was “unsightly” but said she was “delighted” by the decision and described its planned replacement as “very mediocre and bling”.
Newcombe House is part of Cotton, Ballard and Blow’s redevelopment of Notting Hill Gate which featured in a number of architectural journals in the late 1950s and 60s. It is one of a pair with residential Campden Hill Tower diagonally opposite.
Critics have dubbed them the “ugly sisters”, rising above a six-lane trunk road which separates Notting Hill from Holland Park.
The council consulted on three options for the area last year, with total redevelopment the most radical. Newcombe House was identified as an “eyesore” in a development brief it prepared for the area last year.
The new scheme would have included 46 luxury flats and a publicly accessible square. Rather than on-site affordable housing, the scheme’s developer KCS would have paid around £7.5 million to the council’s affordable housing fund.
In a letter to the council earlier this year Boris Johnson outlined support for the proposals but said they did not comply with the London Plan. He raised a number of “strategic concerns” over the level of affordable housing and asked for further explanation regarding the loss of existing housing in the current building.
Historic England (HE) said the increase in height above the tree line would have a small impact on the setting of Kensington Palace, but it had no objection in principle to the new tower or the demolition of Newcombe House.
The scheme received 80 official objections and 16 letters of support.