And there will be NO affordable housing

You may have read media reports saying the Clearings development on Draycott Avenue will include affordable housing. This is not true. The new residential project, which involves the demolition of Marlborough School, will not provide a single square meter of affordable housing. All of it is luxury property to be sold for maximum profit. This is evident from a number of project documents available on the RBKC website.

“The application has been submitted on the basis of 100% market housing with no on-site affordable floorspace,” states one of the background reports of the Major Planning Development Committee. This is in obvious contradiction with the London Plan and the RBKC’s own Core Strategy, which require all new developments to provide 50% of their floor area as affordable housing. Where less than 50% affordable floor area is proposed, Core Strategy policy CH2 states it must be demonstrated that the maximum reasonable amount of affordable housing is provided.

None of this is the case with the Clearings development, initiated by John Lewis. Their multi-million project is subject to special treatment by the RBKC as the borough itself has a major stake in it. The developer has therefore been allowed to offer 100% market housing on the condition that they cover the costs for tearing down our school and building a new one.

“The proposal would fund the cost of the interim school and new Marlborough Primary school in lieu of on-site affordable housing (£26,500,000),” the committee’s background report continues. “The provision of the interim school and new two form entry primary school would represent a significant public benefit that would justify no on site affordable housing in accordance with policy CH2.”

It is later agreed that any amount saved from the construction works will be paid into the councils affordable housing fund.

In other words, the developer is allowed to get away with zero rather than 50% affordable housing. In return they must demolish a historical building full of kids and size down its plot, freeing up extra premium land for commercial development.

Please, sign the petition to stop that!


RBKC Panel of Architects: Commercial building should be removed from the scheme

“More space is needed for the school to work successfully and either the commercial element should be substantially scaled back or better still removed altogether from the scheme.” This is what the RBKC Architects Appraisal Panel (AAP) has to say about the office building John Lewis are planning to build on about a quarter of today’s school grounds.

According to the borough’s website, the Panel consists of distinguished and experienced professionals with a wealth of knowledge about the area, meeting regularly to consider and advise upon major development proposals.

The AAP has reviewed John Lewis’ redevelopment proposal twice and pointed out several architectural issues with the project. Their main criticism is directed at the commercial building planned to replace today’s nursery and part of the playground. Here is more from the AAP’s January 2013 report:

“The land-take for the new commercial development compromises the school layout, circulation, connections and overall character. […] It was felt also that the commercial building could only have a marginal value in development terms and if RBKC chose to retain it on site then the Panel would need to have further details of the commercial reasons for this.”

Recommendations to remove the commercial building were not taken into consideration, as the AAP’s second report from March 2013 indicates:

“The AAP is disappointed that little progress had been made following the earlier presentation and that the outstanding issues remain unresolved.” […] “The commercial building is squeezing the new public realm and the opportunity for the architecture to properly deliver the concept and benefit from the clever plan form.”

According to the planning application documents, the response of the RBKC to these criticisms is that “the commercial building is a full part of the development brief” and that it has already been endorsed by the borough’s education department.

So why does the RBKC insist so much on taking away a quarter of the land from our expanding school and turning it into a five-storey office building? We’ll be looking for an answer from them over the next few days.




Getting renovated – what’s not to like?

The parents and children of Marlborough School first heard about the redevelopment project in the second half of academic year 2012/2013. We were told the school was going to be demolished and rebuilt and that a representative of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea would be coming to explain to us how it was all going to be done.

What we weren’t told was that planning permission had not yet been granted. The procedure was not complete and the application wasn’t going to be reviewed by the Major Planning Development Committee until November 2013. It wasn’t mentioned that the whole project was going to be executed and paid for by John Lewis.

We were told the redevelopment plan included the company’s Clearings site behind the school and that a new commercial building was going to be erected. It wasn’t specified, however, that this new building was going to be private property built on public land owned by the RBKC, nor that it would take the place of what is now the nursery building and part of the school playground:


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