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Fact Check

1. Gateway to garbage?
Q. TRUE or FALSE?

The Developer promises that the new development will provide a “gateway and celebratory sense of arrival to this historic museum quarter.”

A. FALSE

There will be no celebratory sense of arrival. The amount of rubbish on Thurloe St. and the Bullnose is already unacceptably high, and there is no provision for effective waste management for the ground and basement of those buildings, except for bags left on the streets.

 

The new basement units, designed for fast food outlets, and the switch of use from retail to fast food or equivalent, will lead to further heaps of rubbish on the pedestrian route to Exhibition Road and the Museums.

A. IT DEPENDS...

The station will remain open and active throughout the construction phase.

Q. TRUE or FALSE?
2. Station remains open but WHO CAN USE IT?

If the Developer is allowed to pile drive on Thurloe Bridge and Pelham Street, but has to follow the RBKC Code of Construction (so it can’t pile drive from 1am to 5am), the Circle and District Lines will have to close for the duration of that work.

 

If (as planned) the Developer is allowed to pile drive along the section of Pelham Street which is above the escalators for the Piccadilly Line, the escalators from the ticket hall will be inaccessible for months on end.

3. 'Quiet' pile driving is like a 'quiet' rock concert
Q. TRUE or FALSE?

The Developer will use a ‘quieter’ method of pile driving for the 265 piles required in the development.

A. MISLEADING

The CFA method of pile driving is 80 decibels (and the vast majority of the piling will be done in the dead of night, from 1am-5am). So it will hardly be quiet. Admittedly, percussive pile driving methods are ten decibels higher.

Listen to the CFA method - turn your laptop volume to max for the effect (skip this if you are wearing headphones, to prevent hearing damage). A phone is not strong enough for a realistic sound.

4. TFL/NL magic: Sleight of hand
Q. TRUE or FALSE?

The application’s Design and Access Statements and Heritage Statement convey the true scale and height of the buildings.

A. A MISLEADING OMISSION

There is a striking silence about the large service areas being added on top of the inhabitable parts of the buildings which house large air-conditioning condensing units. They will be highly visible from the public space:

 

  -The bullnose: the service unit is about 11m by 7m and about 1.9m high

  -Thurloe Street: the service unit is about 10.4m by 7.7m and about 2m high

  -Thurloe Square: the service unit is about 12m by 9.0 m and about 3m high

  -Pelham Street: the three distinct service units combine to a total of about 22m by 6.5m by about 3m high.  

 

These are not discreetly positioned lift overruns or the odd water tank. They are massive structures, particularly on Pelham Street and Thurloe Bridge, where their height is higher than a traditional mansard floor.  

 

As a result, the Thurloe Bridge buildings are a full 4.6 m higher than the buildings on either side. The width of the service area is as wide as two Thurloe Square houses.

The service units on Pelham Street, taken together, are as wide as four of the Pelham Street houses opposite. They are shaded here cunningly to match the color of the sky:

The application photos are very discrete about the service area on Thurloe Street:

The service areas on the Bullnose, Thurloe St. and Pelham Street:

5. Numbers don't add up!
Q. TRUE or FALSE?

The development will provide 50 new homes, of which 35% will be affordable housing.

A. MISLEADING/FALSE

The Developer says it will provide 50 new homes, but it omits to tell the public that it will demolish 25 to do so. So the increased benefit is only 25 homes.

 

The Developer is providing zero affordable housing, not the 35% it states; it is providing intermediate housing (more expensive than affordable, but below market level), but not even 35% of that--only 27%. This is not compliant with RBKC’s requirements for community housing.

6. One storey less, but nearly as high
Q. TRUE or FALSE?

"The Developer has reduced the Bullnose by one storey as a result of public feed-back about its inappropriate height."

A. MISLEADING

There is now one less storey on the Bullnose, but the top remaining storey has a higher ceiling to partially compensate for that loss. The building is slightly shorter now, by about 1.7m, but that is less than half a storey reduction in height.

On the left is how the Bullnose was presented at the May 2019 public exhibition. On the right is the current proposal. Although the building is slightly shorter, it is deceptive to say simply that it is a storey lower without saying that the new top floor is higher than it was previously.

This reduction in the height of the Bullnose is more than compensated by an increase at the same time in the size and volume of the Pelham Street development.

7. TFL 'forgot' the markings on their own streets 
Q. TRUE or FALSE?

According to the Developer, “residents, staff and visitors who rely on community transport, taxis or minicabs will be able to be dropped off/ picked up informally within 50 meters from the entrance to their buildings surrounding the site as they are single yellow line roads ”.

A. FALSE

The entire perimeter of the site is double yellow lines or residents parking on both sides of the streets (except for a small length opposite Thurloe Bridge for the recycling bins). Pelham Street desperately needs its double yellow line because it is so narrow, and the rest are double because of the traffic where seven busy streets intersect at the Bullnose.

 

The Developer has not only made no provisions for access and mobility, but it is pretending that a need for accessibility does not even exist.  Both the access and deliveries to the residential part of narrow Pelham Street relies on stopping on double yellow lines (unless residents parking is removed).

8. When in doubt, add a mansard
Q. TRUE or FALSE?

The Developers want to add an extra mansard floor to the Thurloe Street terrace. They say that the building is “something of an oddity in the streetscape, where mansard roof extensions (are) generally the norm”. 

A. FALSE

The adjacent terrace (2-18 Thurloe Street) does not have mansards, and RBKC has a clear policy against adding mansards where they do not already exist (RBKC Policy CL8 b). The proposed mansards are much taller than traditional mansards, and sit awkwardly on top of the traditional facade.

9. A case of trick photography
Q. TRUE or FALSE?

The Developer showed photo montages at the public exhibitions, and submitted them in the application, that show us how the development will look.

A. FALSE

This is how the proposed Bullnose looks with their wide-angle lens (not quite a fish-eye lens, but pretty much how a fish would see South Ken).

This is the building with a 50mm lens, taken at the same position, which is how we humans see it.

10. TFL/NL's construction folly
Q. TRUE or FALSE?

The Developer will adhere to RBKC policies and codes of construction “when practicable” and “where possible.”

A. A BRAZEN STATEMENT OF INTENT

It is physically impossible to build the development, as proposed, by following the RBKC rules which apply to everyone else.

 

The application already advertises that they won’t follow these rules:

 

• hours of construction (they will do very noisy work from 1am-5am)

• hours of lorry delivery (the trucks will need to service the nighttime work with concrete and earth removal)

• they have already ignored the requirement to consult residents and publish their comments before submitting the application’s draft traffic management plan (CTMP)

11. Showing structures that don't exist!
Q. TRUE or FALSE?

"The Developer wants the proposed Thurloe Bridge buildings to have mansards, so the application shows that the south side of Thurloe Square has them."

A. FALSE

On the left is their CGI-ed photo of the south side of Thurloe Square, showing a row of mansards, and on the right is the reality.

 

There is a mansard on No. 8 Thurloe Square, but the ones on No. 6 and 7 simply do not exist so they were added digitally. RBKC policy does not allow adding mansards here. (No. 7 did apply for a mansard roof but permission was denied.)

12. Reinventing the past
Q. TRUE or FALSE?

The Developer claims that the original Pelham Street buildings had three storeys above ground. This would be a stepping-stone towards justifying the excessive height and mass proposed for Pelham Street.

A. FALSE

The Developer’s own application shows a photo of Pelham Street while the tube was being built. You can see that the central white buildings, which they actually identify as Pelham Street in the application, were only two storeys above basement. 

After the tube was finished, some new building were added to Pelham Street, and photos show that they were also low-built with two storeys. There is no history of taller buildings at all.

13. More non-existent buildings
Q. TRUE or FALSE?

The Developer says it should be allowed to build five storey buildings on Thurloe Bridge to replace Nos. 57, 58 and 59 Thurloe Square. They say they are ‘repairing’ the streetscape, and that the history of the site supports their massing and height proposals.

A. FALSE

There was never a No. 57, 58, or 59 Thurloe Square. Thurloe Square always stopped at No. 56, and next to it was Pelham Place North.

 

Pelham Place North was occupied by six houses of the same height as the Pelham Place houses that still exist today. The houses were never part of Thurloe Square, and belonged to a different estate. Here is the map in the Developer’s own application, which clearly shows these six different houses at the end of the street.

 

But, in spite of having this map in their application, the Developer draws in some pretend Thurloe Square houses, the imaginary No. 57, 58, and 59—they dwarf the Pelham Place houses on the left below, which are the size of the houses that should actually be in this drawing. 

 

 

 

The Pelham Place houses don’t have mansards anywhere near as high as the Developer has drawn for us. This drawing is labelled as 1845-1868, but those bigger white buildings in the back did not exist then, and are so far away that they are not visible today in this way. And the Pelham corner house, which is being used as a benchmark here, did not originally have that top floor either. The red arrows show the correct benchmark height.

Here is a photo of a Pelham Place house, and of an old Pelham Place North house before demolition. This is the only height that the Developer can honestly claim to replace.

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