Two years after the council approved the building of a new large luxury flat development on the site of Lancer Square on Kensington Church Street, the scaffolding has come up and the demolition of the five-building complex has begun. According to the construction traffic management plan for the demolition work, lodged with the RBKC planning department in March, the demolition phase will take 32 weeks and should be finished on 15 October 2016. This will be followed by the excavation of the double basement, which will cover the whole site.
Originally, the owner – the large Malaysian conglomerate LGB Group, via its property development arm Bellworth Developments, which in turn owns Lancer Square through Gurnesy-registered Chesington Investments Ltd – expected the building works to be completed in early 2017, but the delay means that they will probably go on to 2019-2020.
Lancer Square was completed as late as the early 1990’s, on the site of the former Kensington Palace Barracks, and consists of 5,300m² of offices, 2,300m² of retail, and two flats. The complex about to be demolished also includes 10-14 Old Court Place, the low buildings on the east side of that street, which today consists of 200m² of offices, 400m² of garages and one small flat.
The new complex will consist of 37 luxury flats in two blocks – one larger along Kensington Church Street, and one smaller at the back – plus 14 small flats in Old Court Place, intended to be affordable lets for the elderly. There will also be an office block – roughly where the Café Rouge restaurant has been – with 4,300m² of offices, whereof half will be under ground, covering more than 60% of the site’s upper basement. Towards Kensington Church Street there will be six shops and restaurants on the ground floors.
The current square will be replaced by a small courtyard at the back, while most of the ground space between the houses will consist of a north-south running street that will deliver residents and their visitors to the entrances of the two residential blocks. That street will run through the office block and into Old Court Place. There will also be a pedestrian passage between the office block and the residential block on Kensington Church Street. Daytime, that passage and the courtyard will be open to the public.
The lower basement will have parking for 32 cars and a health club with a swimming pool. The cars will enter and exit the basement via a car lift in the office block. The upper basement will, in addition to the offices, house the lower floor of the retail units.
All construction traffic will enter and leave the site via the Old Court Place exit into Kensington Church Street, going to and from Notting Hill Gate. This is because neither the section of Old Court Place that winds its way past the fire station and into Kensington High Street, nor the southbound route through the Church Street-High Street crossing are regarded suitable. Considering the constant traffic queue at the bottom of Church Street, which almost always stretches way beyond the Old Court Place exit, this means that traffic problems will be unavoidable.