The applicants proposed to replace a dilapidated 1960s concrete office block, car park and other buildings in a district centre with offices, shops, a new public square and 55 dwellings, including affordable homes. The site adjoined several conservation areas encompassing Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens and other important heritage assets. The secretary of state had called in the application at the council’s request after the Mayor of London resolved to grant permission.
The council opposed the scheme on design and heritage harm grounds, despite a previous inspector commending its exceptional design and concluding that its substantial public benefits outweighed minor harm to heritage assets. The call-in inspector reached a similar conclusion and the secretary of state agreed. He attached very substantial weight to inclusion of affordable housing secured through a section 106 agreement, noting that the absence of such provision had been the only reason for dismissing the previous appeal.
Inspector: Christina Downes; Inquiry