Thursday, 4 December 2008
A new future for Warwick Road
One of my neighbours recently alerted me to the existence of an innocuous-sounding document entitled the "Warwick Road Planning Brief". Adopted by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea earlier this year, this is essentially a master plan for the redevelopment of what, in central London terms, is a huge site along the Warwick Road, between the Tesco on Cromwell Road and Kensington High Street, close to Kensington Olympia station.
It's quite interesting to read how the planners see the possible future of the site: although it is actually four separate parcels of land, the brief tries to foresee what it might look like if it was developed to a unified plan to create a sort of 'urban village' of over 600 homes.
The good news is that it is intended to be residential, with a few local shops, although quite what will happen now with the credit crunch in full swing is anybody's guess. One building which may or may not survive - and the plan says it would welcome its demolition and replacement - is the quirky Homebase store, opposite the Warwick Arms pub.
Of course, the southern end closest to Tesco has already been redeveloped; first came the new Tesco; then the huge bulk of the appropriately-named Warren House, adjacent to Homebase; and now the former petrol station between the two has been demolished, with a new building rising rapidly in its place. But from Warren House northwards, the west side of the road looks rather forlorn - though the faux-Eqyptian decoration on Homebase, which the brief rather generously describes as 'Post-modern', does provide a little light relief.
The brief envisages the demolition of all the buildings from Homebase northwards, from the huge Charles House on Kensington High Street to the derelict-looking old telephone exchange, and also Homebase itself. The only part I would be sad to see go is the Radnor Arms. Closed over two years ago, it is in a very forlorn condition now, but the adjacent lane is still cobbled, and it provides a small patch of historic interest along what otherwise feels a bit like an urban motorway.
Still, as I said, the current credit crunch and accompanying recession looks rather set to slow down the pace of new developments, which may be no bad thing: time for the brief to gain a wider audience, and for the locals to think about what they'd like to see along this site.