A development including 100 per cent affordable housing and a new hotel has been approved by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan – after he intervened to more than triple the number of genuinely affordable homes.
The application to redevelop the Kensington Forum Hotel will deliver 62 new homes, all of which will be available at social rent levels for Londoners on low incomes.
The proposals were rejected by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in September 2018, before the Mayor assumed responsibility for the application – known as ‘calling-in’ – in order to subject it to further scrutiny in November.
Following the Mayor’s intervention, the developer agreed to increase the number of homes to 62 and make all of them affordable. It had previously only proposed for 20 of the original 46 homes to be affordable. The scheme also includes a 749-bedroom hotel and 340 serviced apartments.
Kensington and Chelsea has consistently failed to meet the Mayor’s housing targets in recent years, and the Mayor has pushed his planning powers to their limits in order to deliver more affordable homes in the borough.
In April, the Mayor refused permission for the redevelopment of Heythrop College in Kensington Square – which included just 3.3 per cent affordable housing – after the council had approved it.
Last September, the Mayor gave permission for Newcombe House in Notting Hill, having called it in following the council’s decision to refuse the application. After the Mayor’s intervention, the level of affordable housing was increased from 17 to 35 per cent.
In 2017, the council gave planning permission for zero affordable homes. In the 12 months to April 2018, there were just 89 new affordable homes completed in the borough.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:
“I welcome the developer committing to provide 100 per cent social housing in this scheme – in a borough that has consistently failed to meet its housing targets.
“I’m clear that I will do everything in my power to increase the delivery of new social rented and other genuinely affordable homes across the capital.
“These plans also include hundreds of new hotel rooms, which is critical to maintaining the capital’s status as a leading global tourist destination. It’s vital we give all visitors the best possible experience throughout their stay in London.
“As such, having considered all the evidence available to me, I have decided to approve this application.”
The new hotel will be located within walking distance of Kensington’s world-famous museums and the Royal Parks, as well as giving visitors easy access to the rest of central London’s attractions by public transport.
Recent visitor numbers show that London continues to thrive as a global tourist destination: in 2018, 31 million people visited London from inside and outside the UK. An estimated 40 million set to visit each year by 2025.
The capital’s tourism industry – from both domestic and international visitors – is responsible for one in seven jobs in the city and contributes £36 billion a year to the economy.