Friday, 16 June 2017
NEWCOMBE HOUSE APPEAL DISMISSED....FOR THE MOMENT
The Dame's Planning Guru writes....
The thrust of the report exposes a dishonest developer being economical with the truth about the project economics. And colluding with a greedy Housing Trust. The inspector considers that the developer, in seeking to conceal his profits and maximise value, put forward economics showing that “the site value is too high, some evidence that the development value is too low, and the anticipated build costs are too great” and the
“The viability of the scheme has been understated”. “I am not persuaded that there needs to be a loss of the existing social housing bed spaces”
He went on to hammer the NHHT (Notting Hill Housing Trust), owner of the Social Housing, who would make a packet from selling the 125 lease of the social housing which is a core part of the site. NHHT wrote that “all residents it had met with have expressed a positive desire to be rehoused”. However this was contradicted by an occupant who gave evidence at the Appeal (he was excellent: Terence Hutton of Royston Court - a guy struggling to get his life back together from depression and alcohol)
So what we see is the thoroughly dishonest stitch up of money and developers (again) screwing our society in Kensington.
The objections of the Hillgate Residents Association (50% increase in the height of Newcombe Tower and appearance) were all dismissed.
It is pretty clear that the developers will come back with essentially the same proposal and find the money to build in 20 bedsits to keep social housing within the development. They will drop the GP surgery from the development and maybe the public space at the back of the building (these were the two things that the Kensington Society felt they negotiated in return for their support and the excitement of being small time power brokers). And they will drop all the other little sweeteners eg one way escalator to the Underground and free car club.
The whole thing is sad and pathetic.
In particular, the Planning Department needs to raise its game and take informed judgments about costs and viability in order to stop itself being hoodwinked. But then why would they want to do this in a developer friendly environment?
More evidence of the need for a clear out in Hornton Street. The whole context and structure of the culture there is rotten.