Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea recommended to approve replacement for 1950s ‘eyesore’ Newcombe House

Planning officers at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea have recommended controversial plans for an 18-storey tower in Notting Hill despite a raft of objections to the scheme.

The proposals by Urban Sense Architecture and developer KCS to tear down the 1950s Newcombe House and replace it with an 18-storey 81m-high tower have been opposed by residents, over 400 of whom have signed a petition claiming it will “dominate” the West End.

Newcombe House was identified by RBKC as an “eyesore” by the council in 20015 and the new plans would see the current building replaced by a new urban quarter with public square. The tower would accommodate 46 luxury apartments with developers contributing approximately £7.5m to RBKC’s affordable housing fund in lieu of any afforable homes at the site.

The planning officers report on March 8 stated: “Subject to there being no direction to the contrary by the Mayor of London, to grant planning permission subject to the conditions and prior completion of a
legal agreement.”

The scheme also received 80 official objections together with 16 letters of support.

In a letter to RBKC on January 28 the Mayor of London Boris Johnson outlined support for the proposals however the letter stated that the plans did not comply with the London Plan and raised a number of “strategic concerns” over the level of affordable housing and asked for further explanation regarding the loss of existing housing on the current building.

The 12-storey high Newcombe House is part of Cotton, Ballard and Blow’s redevelopment of Notting Hill Gate which featured in anumber of architectural journals in the late 1950’s- early 1960’s. However the tower is considered to be one of two “ugly sisters” in the high street to be built from the era.

Historic England (HE) noted that the increase in height of the new development would have a small impact on the setting of Kensington Palace due to the new tower rising above the tree line, however the body had no objection in principle to the new tower or the demolition of Newcombe House.

The response from HE said: “It is a fine judgement whether, at this distance, a taller but narrower building is preferable in its impact on the setting of the detached villas and assessment of the impact at dusk, given the different use of the building would I suggest help in making that judgement.”