Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Chelsea Blockbuster; One Smart Chelsea Street Is Not Amused by the Council's Plans to Wipe out Its Light with a Block of Flats, Says Mira Bar-Hillel

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Chelsea Blockbuster; One Smart Chelsea Street Is Not Amused by the Council's Plans to Wipe out Its Light with a Block of Flats, Says Mira Bar-Hillel

Article excerpt

Byline: MIRA BAR-HILLEL

IFIELD Road in Chelsea is home to some of London's trendiest eateries, including The Ifield, where Madonna is a regular and Princes William and Harry have been spotted. Kensington & Chelsea Council now wants to build a block of 27 housing-association flats in the crowded street, but residents are concerned that the good social intentions are masking an over-development that could plunge its neighbours into darkness.

The contested site is 81-87 Ifield Road, where six Victorian houses were destroyed by wartime bombs. In the early Seventies the council replaced them with a a block of four flats over a 21-vehicle car park. In the monstrous style of that period, it is a flat-roofed box completely out of keeping with the neighbourhood. It is, however, low and otherwise harmless.

Kensington & Chelsea Council has 8,000 people on its housing waiting list and hundreds in temporary accommodation.

It is constantly on the lookout for sites with development potential for affordable homes, and when Ifield Road came to its notice, as housing chairman Tom Fairhead put it: "We had no choice

but to take advantage of this kind of opportunity." It has got together with the Acton Housing Association and an application has been submitted to the planning committee to replace the small block with a much larger one.

Nobody objects to needy people getting the chance of homes they can afford to rent. But the replacement of four flats by 27 is causing a huge amount of local opposition for many reasons. The most significant effect the proposed building will have will be on the 60 flats in adjacent 62 Finborough Road, which is, ironically, a block of council flats. Sue Gregory lives in a lower-ground-floor flat with 16-year-old triplets, Elliot, Julian and Ryan, and 22-year-old Leo. In fact, she liked the flat so much as a tenant that she bought it four years ago

because: "It is light and bright all day and we are not overlooked. …

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