Firm’s plans approved following a redesign and the rejection of two former applications
The London borough of Kensington & Chelsea has given the OK to plans to refurbish a 1950s office block following a redesign, a lapsed consent and two planning rejections on the site.
Squire & Partners’ latest application to upgrade the workspace in the 12-storey Newcombe House was unanimously approved by councillors despite concerns over the quality of its design.
The scheme in Notting Hill Gate will add two new storeys to the existing building and include two lower-rise newbuilds of six and eight storeys which will contain affordable housing, a medical centre and retail and office space.
It is the fourth submission for the long-contested site, which has been beset by planning issues for nearly eight years.
Proposals for a full demolition of Newcombe House and a replacement 18-storey tower for Brockton and U&I were rejected in 2016 and then dismissed at appeal the following year due to the loss of social rented homes.
The practice behind those plans, Urban Sense Architecture, then rejigged the scheme to add affordable housing in mostly identical buildings to the previous proposals.
This was rejected again by the council and although eventually approved in 2020 by the mayor of London following a call-in, the consent was never implemented and lapsed in 2023.
The site was taken over by Beltane Asset Management, which appointed Squire & Partners to refurbish and extend the existing building instead of demolish it.
These plans, submitted last summer, were then redesigned to add second staircases following Michael Gove’s surprise announcement in July to lower the threshold for second means of escape in residential buildings to 18m.
Kensington & Chelsea’s planning officers had recommended the application for approval ahead of the council’s planning committee meeting last week despite admitting certain “shortcomings” with Squire & Partners’ design.
These included the “top-heavy muscular appearance” of one block, the “overly glazed” facades of the Newcombe House tower and the building’s curved elliptical window openings, which the officers said were uncharacteristic of the surrounding buildings.
But the council report concluded: “Despite these shortcomings the design is well considered, engaging, well detailed, highly functional and of an appropriate scale and massing, responding to the context and character of the local area.”
Squire & Partners said each of the three buildings had been designed to respond to the immediate context and wider conservation area, with the tower influenced by the international style of Notting Hill and its distinctive 1950s architecture.
“Modernist elements such as the vertical expression, solid western elevation and geometric shapes are reinterpreted in a contemporary way to create a beautiful new façade that relates to the surrounding 1950s architecture, whilst delivering something new, forward thinking and distinctive,” the practice said.
The project team for the scheme include cost consultant Garidner & Theobald, planning consultant Gerald Eve, structural engineer AKTII, facade consultant Thornton Tomasetti, project manager Capital & Provincial and landscape consultant Andy Sturgeon.