There is a huge hole in Kensington where two hotels used to stand but this is about to change with the involvement of a Middle East backed developer. The site is on Victoria Road and overlooks Kensington Gardens and will house nearly 100 new apartments in a scheme thought to worth around 600million.
The site used to be the 1950s built Kensington Park and Palace Thistle hotels. The development was originally bought by the Candy brothers for 69million but they sold the development on to an Abu Dhabi consortium in 2008, just 18 months later, for 320million.
The development has been designed by architect Sir David Chipperfield and was granted planning permission in 2007. The plans show 97 flats being proposed, some of which are reported to be worth around 10million. They will be set over six floors, all above ground, and the development will be 500,000 sq ft in size. It is due to open in 2013.
Three levels of the development will be a health and fitness facility and a 79 space car park, each of the spaces will have a electrical charging point included. The ground floor of the site will house an art gallery. The hotels are to be demolished but the Victorian facades in De Vere Gardens and Victoria Gardens will have to remain due to the development being within a conservation area.
Surprisingly 43 units in the development have to be allocated for affordable housing, the developer was legally bound to include these into the project. These will not be within the apartment block but will be situated in a former office building in Worlds End in Chelsea at a cost of 35million. The developer also has to pay 100,000 towards public art within the borough, which they have already agreed to.
Since the demolition began there have been some surprising finds, one of the hotels safety deposit boxes contained a 20 year old bomb. As a result a site evacuation had to ordered. There was also a controlled disposal of 600 mattresses which were taken from the hotels during the demolition phase as well.
There were objections to the development but the council only received four written letters from nearby residents. They were concerned about the disruption that a project this size would create. Parking would also be impacted upon and they felt that the new buildings were not in keeping with the character and appearance of the area.
The developer is Lancer Asset Management, they run the property interests of the family of the former Abu Dhabi president, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahayan. They say that the development is going to comprise of very smart flats which will not be like the Candy brothers other development at One Hyde Park. He felt that this development would attract more discerning buyers.