Kensington Leisure Centre and Academy Consultation - Background to the Consultation

Background to the Consultation:

From Information Provided by Kensington and Chelsea Council:

Why the Kensington Academy?

Listening to local people and information about our borough gave us a clear indication that a school for the community in North Kensington is needed. At present, approximately 50 per cent of school age children are educated outside of the borough.

Several sites were initially considered, and The Kensington Leisure Centre site was selected in May 2009 as the only site which could deliver a new school in a timely way to meet the needs of the community. It is also located in the heart of North Kensington where it can be of most benefit.

Now that the site has been chosen, we need to make decisions about how to best use the site for the benefit of local people and of those that will attend the academy and use the leisure centre.

There are a few things that have already been decided based on past consultations and the feasibility study:

  • The location of a school, which will be an academy, on the west of the site. This allows the school to be built more quickly, and with less disruption to the Leisure Centre.
  • The need for better connections and routes into and across the site,whether by pedestrians or by vehicles, to allow people to find the school and leisure centre more easily·
  • The need to relocate the all weather sports pitches to the nearby Westway Sports Centre.
  • That there is no need to demolish homes in the area to deliver the project
  • That the new Leisure Centre will contain a swimming pool.

What needs to be discussed and the decisions you can help shape are:

  • The exact position of the school on the western part of the site, and matters such as how high it will be, where its entrance is, its design and so forth.
  • What form any open space might take
  • Whether to retain the existing playspace or relocate it
  • The nature of the connections and routes into and across the site - should it be for vehicles or only for pedestrians
  • The location of any new homes on the site

The Council will also like to hear from you on the facilities to be included in the Leisure Centre, but this will be the focus of consultation later.

See blog Kensington Leisure Centre and Academy Consultation - How can you get involved? For more details.

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Tags: Academy, Consultation, Kensington

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Comment by Francis on November 15, 2010 at 2:09
Although I disagree strongly with woodypopps enthusiasm for ‘regeneration’ I think s/he has correctly identified a link between the Academy proposals and the Council’s longer term plans to ‘regenerate’ this whole area. Indeed most of woodypopps’ specific points bear a remakable similarity to some of the key recommendations in a masterplanning study commissioned by the Council last year. The 'Notting Dale South Masterplan' recommends what I would call a ‘scorched earth’ policy of large scale demolition of the housing estates in this area, centring on Lancaster West and Silchester, and including several of the surrounding smaller estates. Incidentally, it recommends a radical redesign of the road system through the area, which involves putting new roads right through the middle of some of the existing blocks. Allom and Barlow are threatened with demolition to meet this particular objective.

Unfortunately large scale ‘regeneration’ will involve the forced removal or relocation of everyone who lives on these estates. Under such circumstances it’s hard to see how the existing communities can survive. After demolition the housing stock will be rebuilt at twice the density, just like at Wornington Green, and all the additional housing thus produced will be sold for profit. I would suggest that when woodypopps speaks of ‘improving the area’, there is a big question mark over who will actually benefit from such improvements. The pursuit of profit would appear to be the main driving force for this ‘regeneration’ rather than any concern for the well-being or quality-of-life of the current residents of these estates. Nottingwood House is a case in point. The Masterplan recommends moving all the existing tenants out so that Nottingwood can be refurbished for sale to a presumably superior class of new owner-occupiers. There appears to be more than a little social engineering involved in this idea, with a generous helping of gerrymandering too of course.

Don’t take my word for any of this. Read the Masterplan. It’s available for download (Appendix C) from the Council’s website at:
Comment by woodypopp on November 12, 2010 at 17:26
I am totally in favor of regeneration of this area, it is run down and neglected and often feels unsafe due to badly design ed road patterns in the past. It could be so much better, it has a lot of potential and needs to be integrated with the wider area more. There needs to be some sort of catalyst for regeneration as nothing is currently being done to improve the area and this could be one of the catalysts along with the Silchester garage site regeneration. However it also needs more amenities, retail, cafe culture and green space.
Comment by Sharon on November 12, 2010 at 11:50
RBKC is one of the richest areas in the world. Huge mansions, parks and gardens for their wealthy residents. RBKC council has billions of pounds of real estate and cash. RBKC Council is Notting Barns biggest landlord. Its decaying housing, shops, amenities, parks and rotten management is a national disgrace.

Will this be another useless ugly poorly disciplined state school blighting the area.

Notting Barns doesn’t need more housing to pay for this – whether its social housing for labour votes or market housing for tory votes.

Notting Barns needs now good housing, schools, health, leisure, amenities, pubs, restaurants, shops and lots of beautiful green space.
Comment by teekay on November 12, 2010 at 9:34
Francis this is a most elegant and satisfying read, thank you for supporting OUR local community so succulently. One of the questions you asked "Does anyone actually care - ?" pertaining to the residents ammenities can be answered with a loud Nooooooooooooo!
Comment by Francis on November 12, 2010 at 1:20
The Council chose this site without consulting, and without any regard to the needs of the local community, by which I mean the Lancaster West community. Now, it seems we are being invited to help choose the wallpaper etc. For us this is like being invited to re-arrange the deckchairs on the Titanic. What an insult, and what a disgusting lie, to pretend that this is genuine consultation. The consultation is a sham, and always has been.

The site is located right at the heart of the Lancaster West Estate and the Academy development will severely impact all residents of Grenfell Tower and any other parts of Lancaster West in that immediate locality, who are dependent on Grenfell Rd for their access needs (including emergency and service access). Because of poor urban design, emergency access to Grenfell Tower has never been adequate. Greatly increased traffic flow in the Grenfell Road area, caused by this latest ill-conceived over-development, will make it even more dangerous and inadequate.

Lancaster West is a densely populated inner city housing estate, with all the social problems that you would expect to find in such an area, including of course the perennial problems of alienated and disaffected youth. Dumping a thousand more teenagers into the mix will not help any of these problems, and will surely make them worse. If there were enough space available to create some separation, it might not be so bad, but there is no space. The site is too small. The academy will sit cheek by jowl next to Grenfell Tower and there will be no room to move, or to breathe, or to swing the proverbial cat.

The chosen site also encroaches on essential amenity space which belongs to Lancaster West Estate. This space, on the west side of Grenfell Tower, accomodates a number of social amenities including a boxing club, a creche, a community centre, and the only play space available for the preteens of Grenfell Tower and adjoining areas. All of these facilities are directly threatened and the playground will certainly be lost. Where will the children play? Does anyone in authority actually care about that?

There are other problems with the siting of this development which the Council has chosen to ignore. Lancaster Green which occupies a large chunk of the site, is a public park in a London borough with an acknowledged scarcity of open space. The Council’s ‘Unitary Development Plan’ and ‘Parks Strategy’ both contain commitments to resist development in park areas. Parks and open spaces are also protected under Planning Policy Guidelines issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government, which require that a careful assessment be conducted which clearly shows an open space to be ‘surplus to requirements’ before any development can be considered on the site. In my opinion a proper assessment of Lancaster Green could not reasonably reach such a conclusion.

I wrote to Councillor Cockell and the rest of the Cabinet in July raising all these issues, but received no meaningful response. Presumably this means that the Council did not assess the likely impact of this development on the Grenfell community before deciding to steamroll it through. It seems equally clear that there has been no open space assessment as required by Planning Policy Guidance.

I copied the local Labour Councillors into this correspondence and for a while they seemed to be supportive. They helped organise a public meeting in September which was attended by nearly 200 local residents, most of whom were very angry at the Council’s plans, and made this abundantly clear. However, the same Labour Councillors subsequently voted in support of the Tory plans in a meeting of the Council on 13th October. With Labour support it was unanimously agreed to proceed with the development. I wrote to the Labour Councillors again recently, challenging their apparent duplicity and again raising the Planning Policy Guidance issue. I asked them to pressure the Council for compliance with the Guidance. I am still awaiting their response.

Now the Council are talking again about consultation, but there are strict limits to what they want to discuss. They are encouraging local residents to participate, as though there were something real to be gained. What a lie! What a sick joke! Something stinks here. Something is rotten about this whole planning and consultation process. I daresay there is something rotten about this whole Council and this whole Rotten Borough.

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