Rodić Davidson Architects

Planning permission granted for hotel conversion in Earl’s Court


Knightsbridge Site Progress #3Knightsbridge Site Progress #3Knightsbridge Site Progress #3

Earl’s Court is undergoing a remarkable transformation. What was at first a low-density residential suburb and later a centre for itinerant backpackers from Australia and New Zealand has emerged as one of London’s most desirable neighbourhoods – and for good reason. With a scarcity of developable land in prime locations, the conversion of low-occupancy hostels and boarding houses into residences has emerged as a viable and sustainable solution to meet the demand for high-quality housing stock within walking distance of both Kensington and Chelsea.

Change of use (Use Class C1 to C3) is not only a sensitive redevelopment methodology, able to accommodate ambitious housing targets whilst maintaining the topography of the streetscape. A cursory survey of the recent Policy T8 Formulation Report indicates that proposals to return the neighbourhood’s tree-lined avenues and Victorian redbrick garden squares to residential use now have the full backing of the planning committee.

Moving forward, the Royal Borough has resolved to ‘allow the loss of hotels in the SW5 postcode area’ and redistribute beds in the borough’s major town centres.  It has made its case that the decline in demand associated with the closure of the Exhibition Centre has rendered a great many beds surplus to requirements. And it has contested that the ‘poor quality of such businesses’ has continued to have a ‘detrimental impact on the character’ of what has the potential to be a prime residential neighbourhood, within easy reach of the City and the West End.

At the forefront of this property enhancement strategy stands Rodic Davidson’s Barkston Gardens project, a testament to the transformative power of adaptive reuse and architectural innovation. Led by a visionary team of developers, architects, and architectural technologists, the masterplan reimagines a neglected Queen Anne townhouse, formerly a budget boarding house, as a collection of upscale apartments that redefine contemporary living. It not only retains but restores the principal elevations of the building to ensure seamless integration into the distinctive architectural context while making no compromises on the deliverable standards of modern luxury.

More specifically, Barkston Gardens features five apartments across both traditional and duplex orientations, offering prospective residents a timeless address, unobstructed views onto a Victorian garden square, and all the amenities and design features clients expect for a comfortable, twenty-first-century lifestyle. A thoughtfully designed lightwell, enveloped in crisp white render, ensures an abundance of natural light permeates every corner of the property. The generous plan pushes the floor area beyond London Plan GIA requirements, ensuring the interior spaces are comfortable as well as bright. Moreover, the addition of a private outdoor terrace – unusual for a prime Zone 1 London location – will provide busy professionals with a quiet sanctuary amidst the dynamism of the city.

The urgent need for the restoration, refurbishment, and partial reconstruction of these undervalued properties was made manifest in recent updates to fire safety guidelines, which drew attention to complex split-level plans in apartment buildings and hotels. The question of whether Earl’s Court can continue to allow its converted housing stock to degrade has increasingly made the Borough’s agenda. Following the example of Rodic Davidson in rationalising the room configuration and installing a lift will not only serve to address valid concerns for the welfare of residents, but improve accessibility, giving rise to a more inclusive and convenient living environment.

By embracing this soft-touch approach to urban redevelopment, investors can contribute meaningfully to Earl’s Court’s transformation and support the re-alignment of local real estate values with neighbouring parts of Kensington and Chelsea. The financial opportunities are superlative, provided they work with architects familiar with the complexities of planning and change of use ordinances in the Royal Borough’s conservation areas.


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