Revised plans go in for the redevelopment of a Kensington eyesore

Brockton offers more affordable housing in the latest proposal for Notting Hill Gate's Newcombe House

Another set of plans have been submitted for the major redevelopment of the 46-metre high Newcombe House on the corner of Notting Hill Gate and Kensington Church Street.

The Royal Borough’s planners rejected the previous set, designed by Urban Sense Architecture, back in June, on the basis that the proposed scheme would not deliver enough affordable housing. The Committee decided that a £7m affordable housing contribution was not up to muster, given the loss of 20 affordable studio flats for former rough sleepers in Royston Court.

Revised designs have yet to be published on RBKC’s planning portal, but a leaflet to local residents indicates that the developers – Brockton Capital and U+I (formerly Development Securities) –  are upping the community ante this time around. It looks like nine of the originally-planned 46 apartments (c.20%) have been shifted over to affordable use. “In terms of floor space it is slightly above the amount of space previously provided on site for the rough sleeper bedsits,” say the development team, “meaning that there is no loss resulting from the regeneration plans.”

RBKC Council previously rejected an even earlier iteration of the one-acre project in March 2016 (despite it being recommended for approval); an appeal by the developer (operating as Notting Hill Gate KCS Ltd) led to a Public Consultation in February – but to no avail. The latest proposal seems to be more in keeping with central London’s increasingly hard-line approach to affordable housing provisions in new developments.

Newcombe House today (image by Mark Ahsmann, CC by SA 3.0)

If approved, the widely-reviled 1950s-built Newcombe House will be demolished and replaced by a new group of four buildings, ranging in height from 18 to 72 metres. It would deliver 46 new apartments along with 14 retail units, 4,500 square metres of office space, and a new GP surgery. Kensington Church Street would get a new stretch of four-storey frontage, and a new public square would house the local Farmers’ Market. Designs have been generally well-received by locals, including the notoriously tough-to-please Kensington Society.

In his Appeal decision in June, Inspector David Nicholson was generally approving of Urban Sense’s work – and flagged that proposed new public amenities including a new public square would be welcome. The planner’s report called designs “a convincing ensemble” for the area, slotting nicely into most of the necessary policies and Local Plan, with “substantial” benefits for the community – and that any impact to local residents “would not be unacceptable.”

But an agreed £7m affordable housing contribution proved too small to get the project through. Planners rejected the developer’s numbers on viability in June, but said that the dismissal of this Appeal “should not necessarily prevent the development going ahead in its current form, but would only delay it slightly”.

Read the June’s Appeal decision here