Controversial Kensington & Chelsea Office Scheme by Pilbrow & Partners Gets Council Approval

Controversial Commercial Scheme Gets a Go-Ahead

Pilbrow & Partners has won approval for a contentious commercial project in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, despite receiving 1,365 objections from local inhabitants. The proposed replacement of the popular Marks & Spencer store at 81 – 103 King’s Road has met with disapproval, with only 15 people expressing their support against the overwhelming 99% representations opposing the plan.

Design Modifications and Council’s Approval

The company, also behind Marks & Spencer’s failed bid to revamp its flagship Oxford Street store, managed to secure the council’s endorsement after reducing a storey from a five-storey design initially proposed by Benoy. The earlier design was rejected in December 2021 due to concerns about its size and potential impact on daylight for nearby properties. For those looking to renovate their own properties, here are some tips on Creating a Beautiful Backyard Space in London.

New Design Faces More Opposition

However, the revised plans have faced even more local condemnation than Benoy’s proposal, which had received 1,123 objections. This suggests the Pilbrow & Partners’ design, which garnered more than 200 additional objections, was even less popular.

Council’s Planning Officers Support the Proposal

The council’s planning officers, before the planning committee meeting, stated that the latest plans would seamlessly blend with the local area, and wouldn’t harm neighbouring conservation areas or listed buildings. They also believed that the design would make a ‘positive contribution to local character and distinctiveness’.

About the New Building

The new four-storey structure will span a 0.5ha site and house a replacement supermarket on its ground and basement floors, with office spaces above. It will offer almost double the floorspace of the current three/four storey building.

Local Opposition and Concerns

Objections were primarily focused on the height of the proposed building, with concerns that it would dominate the streetscape and its overly modern design would not blend with the King’s Road’s character. Concerns were also raised about the impact on the mental health of nearby residents due to loss of light, overlooking and increased traffic due to loss of parking spaces.

Looking Ahead with Optimism

Despite the objections, Fred Pilbrow, Pilbrow & Partners’ founding partner, expressed delight at the project’s approval. He added that the scheme would achieve a BREEAM outstanding rating, WELL Platinum and less than half of the operational energy usage of the existing block, reflecting a commitment to sustainability and energy efficiency.