Notting Hill Police Station designated as an Asset of Community Value

RBKC’s decision effectively puts any sale of the landmark building in Holland Park on hold for six months

RBKC has designated the Notting Hill Police Station, in the heart of prime Holland Park, as an Asset of Community Value.

The Kensington Society swung into action as soon as the Met Police’s governing body MOPAC confirmed that 101 Ladbroke Road would be among a swathe of police station closures, pitching in for an ACV ruling to protect the site for unwanted development.

A number of resi developers began circling 101 Ladbroke Road as soon as rumours of the police station’s closure began the circulate; things picked up pace a couple of weeks ago, when the Mayor of London confirmed a list of closure sites (including in Belgravia, Mayfair and Richmond).

Notting Hill Police Station, on the corner of Ladbroke Grove and Ladbroke Road in Holland Park, has been named as an Asset of Community Value – effectively stopping any sale for six months (photo by Danny P Robinson)

Before the ACV decision, a source informed us that MOPAC would be looking for something in the region of £36m for the site; that’s likely to be lower now…

RBKC agreed that “the current use of the building furthers the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community and it is realistic to believe that the future use of the building or land will continue to further the social interests of the local community.”

Over 2,000 people signed a petition to keep the station open.

Cllr Mary Weale, Lead Member for Communities: “The residents of North Kensington have been campaigning to keep Notting Hill Police Station open and we have been fighting by their side. We strongly oppose the closure which is particularly insensitive in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire. For many residents the police station is a tangible sign of police presence, commitment and security.

“The question the Mayor needs to answer is what will happen to the residents of North Kensington in two years’ time. He is trying to remove 24-hour counter services from the area by the backdoor. The proposed counter near Grenfell will only open part of the day and will be gone by 2020.

“I welcome the recognition of the police station as an ACV, which it certainly is. We will continue to fight for our police station and I hope it sends out a clear message to the Mayor, Met Police and anyone looking at buying the site that we will do all we can to support our local community and the services they need.”

As explored by Brecher’s Rachel Lee in PrimeResi back in 2014, an ACV ruling is part of The National Planning Policy Framework, which “takes the approach that the built environment should provide accessible local services, reflecting community needs”.

Naming a site as a Community Asset “can effectively ‘stop the clock’ via a moratorium for a period of up to six months, before the owner can proceed to sell under normal market conditions”, explained Lee.

Brecher’s Rachel Lee on residential development and Assets of Community Value (written in 2014): [An ACV listing] is noted on the local land charge register and a restriction is placed on the property via a legal charge, preventing sale on the open market until the moratorium period has lapsed. Once listed as an asset, an interim moratorium period of six weeks will commence, during which time a community interest group may request in writing to be treated as a potential bidder for the asset. If this request is received, then the full six months’ moratorium period will prevent disposal during this time.

The community group requesting the listing and requiring to be a bidder are under no obligation to buy the [building] during this six month period. Likewise, the Owner is under no obligation to sell to the community group or at less than market value. The six-month period, however, is certainly going to be an inconvenience to certain sellers and it could deter a potential buyer intending to convert to residential use.

When converting a building to residential property, developers need to be extremely mindful of the community asset listing process, which has the potential to delay a project and increase the scrutiny given to any planning arguments that the loss of the pub would be detrimental. Developers should take specialist advice as to how to argue against retention as a pub and whether there will be local concern about its loss. A good strategy and a robust case should assist in getting through the planning process.

See the full list of planned police station closures in London on PrimeResi here