Marion Gettleson on the RBKC Council and Portobello

By Marion Gettleson

I've been in the antiques business in Portobello for 50 years. RBKC has been Conservative (Tory) since the 1850s, when the area was farmland. The Council is run by a small 'Cabinet' of Councillors. In reality, power is largely in asingle pair of hands. To make matters worse, RBKC lacks political opposition; so is effectively a one party state.

RBKC intends turning N. Kensington into another Chelsea; in defiance of  all public opinion. Late in last year's Local Development Framework  (LDF) consultations, it 'emerged' that RBKC plans to build hundreds of  'market' price expensive flats in N. Kensington. This will drown the surviving lower income communities in a sea of wealth. The Council wants to build another Paddington Basin in the area & eventually have a  Crossrail station. 'Poor' North Kensington will become 'rich' North Chelsea. In the 1980s Dame Shirley Porter achieved similar ends in Westminster, by selling council homes to rich Tory voters.

The plan to gentrify Portobello out of existence is part of the same project. Golbourne market is also threatened. Rich people don't need council services; so are less expensive to the Council than the 'poor.' 

The LDF documents will control planning decisions for 15 years. During the consultations, plans 'emerged' for Westbourne Grove to be Portobello 
Road's planning partner; destroying Portobello's traditional link with Golbourne market. Everyone objected; but they were ignored. Simultaneously, RBKC discussed demolishing Portobello Court estate on the corner of Portobello & Westbourne Grove - but omitted to tell the residents. On another corner of the same crossroads, Longlands Court estate residents were not consulted when RBKC gave permission for the Good Fairy antiques arcade to become new shops & flats; a mini-French chateau.

On the third corner, Lipka/All Saints is the most prominent site in the market. Neither Portobello Court nor Longlands estate residents were consulted about the project to turn 6 antiques arcades into a vast retail space. Permission has been retrospectively requested for the shopfront. All Saints claims that constructing a fake Victorian shopfront in fibreglass is irrelevant to planning. The Portobello wall of the building is mostly glass. This conflicts with accepted practice. All Saints claims that since its shopfront was built without permission, it is "existing;" so is not subject to planning restrictions. Finally,  permission was granted for an illegally oversized building. Then it was built larger still. This massive edifice can be seen 500m away, cutting through the classic view of St Peter's church on the brow of Notting Hill. The public has raised such a storm of protest, that RBKC is investigating the project.
 Some the signed petitions to be delivered to the Council on March 3rd
RBKC ignores the public. It has been noted for years that large property owners obtain planning permission for their large projects; while small landlords are refused permission for far more modest developments. This cannot be legal. Over 30,000 people have signed petitions & letters or become Facebook fans of the "Save the Portobello Market" campaign wall. The Council is so far removed from public opinion that apart from a standard letter, virtually its only response on Facebook is to invite everyone to become a "Friend" of "Town Hall!" If it wasn't so outrageous ... it would be funny.

Marion Gettleson
Antique Dealer
Portobello Road
Please note that petitions will be delivered this Wednesday, March 3rd to the RBKC - Join in!

Wednesday, 03 March 2010
17:00 - 17:30
London, United Kingdom

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