Native Land and Places for London (Transport for London’s (TfL) property company, which is financially independent of TfL) have won their planning appeal for a new development that would restore and enhance South Kensington Underground station and the surrounding streets.
The appeal follows the decision being made by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC)’s planning committee to refuse the planning application in 2021, going against its planning officer’s recommendation, and despite the plans receiving nearly 700 letters of support. Letters of support came from across the wider community, including from a range of important local organisations and institutions, such as the Natural History Museum, the V&A, the Science Museum and Imperial College.
On 12 December 2023, the Planning Inspector ruled that Native Land and Places for London’s appeal against the refusal should be allowed, acknowledging that the scheme will provide a range of important benefits. The now consented proposals include new affordable homes and provide much-needed step-free access from street level to the ticket hall as well as completing the delivery of step-free access to trains on the Circle and District line platforms.
Designed by Stirling Prize-winning architect RSHP, the proposals have been carefully considered in order to respect the unique and important heritage of the area, with historic building specialist Julian Harrap Architects working on the heritage elements of the scheme.
Alasdair Nicholls, Chief Executive of Native Land, said:
“This decision brings a drawn-out planning process to a positive conclusion, achieving a rare consent for a major mixed-use sustainable development in a central London location. This is a high-quality scheme that will protect the heritage of the station while bringing a renewed sense of place to South Kensington. When complete, it will create an experience befitting the gateway to London’s internationally renowned museum and cultural quarter.”
Scott Anderson, Head of Property Development at Places for London, said:
“We are delighted with this positive decision. The consented proposals enhance the South Kensington station buildings and surrounding streets, while embracing the historic context of the area and honoring its legacy. The station sees millions of journeys being made by people from across the world, with it acting as a gateway to some of Britain’s most important and treasured cultural institutions, and these improvements will help them to experience London at its finest.”
As the gateway to London’s internationally renowned museum and cultural quarter, South Kensington station is one of London’s busiest stations and sees tens of millions of customers passing through the station every year, including residents, workers, tourists, concert goers, university students, school children and hospital patients.
The proposals aim to create a better station experience at South Kensington. Step-free access to the Circle and District lines will be delivered in the first phase of the scheme. The scheme will also improve the surrounding streets and provide much-needed affordable homes. The plans include:
- Preserving and restoring the historic arcade within the Grade-II listed South Kensington station to its former glory.
- Providing 50 homes around the station, including 35 per cent on-site affordable housing. The affordable housing will be developed on currently vacant land along one side of Pelham Street, reinstating what was once a two-sided street.
- Developing a carefully crafted four-storey building at the front of the station, referred to as ‘The Bullnose’ because of its unique shape, that will give the station a new landmark gateway. The ground floor will provide retail opportunities, while upper levels will offer high quality flexible office workspace.
- Restaurant units to help support the daytime and evening economy and maintain the attractiveness of South Kensington as a place to visit.
- Providing a new accessible station entrance on Thurloe Street, with lifts to enable much-needed step-free access to the ticket hall, subway and the Circle and District line platforms. This will greatly improve access for wheelchair users, parents with buggies and other passengers with mobility requirements, who currently find navigating the station extremely difficult.
Native Land was selected by Places for London as its development partner in 2018 for the redevelopment of the land and buildings around South Kensington station.