PRESS RELEASE: South Ken plans withdrawn at 11th hour amidst surging public outcry

2nd June 2021

Decision comes day after SAVE Britain’s Heritage calls on RBKC Planning Committee to reject proposals

In unprecedented circumstances, applicants Native land and TfL have withdrawn a major planning application on the eve of a planning committee meeting on 3rd June, even though planning officers had recommended approval of the scheme. Nearly 2000 objections had been registered, together with objections from all local Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea ward councillors and MP Felicity Buchan. 

Marcus Binney, executive president of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, says: "this is yet another ringing declaration that the citizens of London care about their neighbourhoods, the little, often untidy streets which buzz with life and places to have a cup of coffee, just as much as the grand buildings and major landmarks. SAVE won the little houses of the Strand campaign in 2015 thanks to a 10,000 strong public petition. This withdrawal will give heart to the 40 plus community and action groups fighting to preserve their neighbourhood from an overbearing development that was set to steal the sky.”

What had been proposed?

Under the plans, South Kensington Station and the railway cutting it sits within would have been developed with four large office and residential blocks, all within a protected conservation area.

The grade II listed ‘bullnose’ at the head of South Ken's historic station arcade would have been demolished for the construction of a five-storey glass office building, with the adjacent unlisted Thurloe Place terrace to the north gutted, façaded and rebuilt as new private apartments, with the original historic shop fronts reconfigured and standardised to a new formulaic design. 

To the south, a monolithic block of four and five storey office buildings would have created a canyon effect along the full length of Pelham Street and dominated the corner at Thurloe Bridge which overlooks grade II* listed Pelham Crescent.

Read the full background storey in our previous press release HERE.  

Fundamental Rethink

The decision to cancel tomorrow’s committee meeting, at which SAVE was due to give a statement, follows a formal written request from the applicants to “enable the development proposals to be amended”.

SAVE calls for a fundamental rethink of the scheme, taking its cue from the conservation-led approach set out in a 2016 Development Brief commissioned by TfL in collaboration with the local community.

Earlier revisions have been nothing more than a game of spot the difference, and the outcry provoked by this scheme will not die away.

A report published jointly by The Brompton Association and SAVE Britain’s Heritage in August 2020 illustrates how a low-rise scheme, conservation led approach could look, respecting the character and scale of the conservation area.

Concept drawings in the report by the architect Craig Hamilton show how the area could be developed according to the principles set out in the 2016 TfL Brief, to create a renewed and harmonious townscape in a highly sensitive historic context.


Notes to editors:

1. For more information contact Ben Oakley, conservation officer at SAVE Britain's Heritage – / 07388 181 181.

2. SAVE Britain's Heritage is a strong, independent voice in conservation that has been fighting for threatened historic buildings and sustainable reuses since 1975. We stand apart from other organisations by bringing together architects, engineers, planners and investors to offer viable alternative proposals. Where necessary, and with expert advice, we take legal action to prevent major and needless losses. 

3. See here for our previous press release on South Ken.

4. See here for the joint report by SAVE and The Brompton Association illustrating the stark choice now facing South Ken.