The material below has been compiled by GEGRA in order to explain to residents and leaseholders what is happening with the penthouse development and what has happened to date. If you have any further questions please do email GEGRA through the website. Further updates will be added to this page in due course. A plan of the development setting out the expected completion dates of the remaining tasks can be found here.

What is going to be built?

GEHL have received planning permission to build 6 penthouse flats on the roof and excavate the main garden to allow them to build a car park of 21 spaces under it. An access road will run alongside the arcade to connect Abbey Road to the new car park and a new lift will be added to the back of the building. The 9 parking spaces in the Abbey Road forecourt will be replaced with 4 short stay spaces. These 9 lost spaces will be re-provided using 9 spaces in the underground car park. The new penthouse flats will be entitled to 8 dedicated spaces in the underground car park. We are waiting to hear how GEHL intends to make use of the remaining 4 new underground spaces however they have confirmed that they will not allow non-residents to use them.

What's going to happen to the main garden?

The main garden will be excavated to allow them to build a car park of 21 spaces under it. Once the work is completed a new garden will be reinstated over the top of the car park. This will include reinstating the hedges that screen the lawn area from the pathway and block. Across the bottom of the current lawn, a low platform feature will be built. The sides of this platform will be louvered to provide ventilation to the car park beneath. The top of the platform will be designed to act as a wide bench for seating.


Where can I find details of the planning application?

Westminster City Council's reference for the application is 11/00187/FULL. You can read all of the application documents along with their decision notice on their website at http://idoxpa.westminster.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=LETAHNRP01R00.


Who is the developer?

Dekra Penthouse Developments. Dekra are very experienced in penthouse developments and their recent projects include the penthouses added to 'Wellington Court' and 'The Terraces', both in St John's Wood. See their website at www.dekra.co.uk.


What hours are Dekra allowed to work?

The planning consent allows them to work between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday and not at all on the weekends or bank holidays.


How long is construction phase expected to take?

The work was originally expected to take 18 months. As works began on 13-Jan-2014 they should have ended by 13-July-2015. Works are now expected to overrun until 19-Aug-2016


Will we be compensated for the disruption?

GEHL will be paying leaseholders and regulated tenants compensation for the disturbance by way of a 20% service charge subsidy for the life of the construction phase, however long that turns out to be. The 20% is based upon the average service charge levied in the three complete years running up to the start of construction:

What amenities will we lose during the construction phase?

The planning documents state that we will lose the main garden to the west of the block (encompassing the large lawn), along with the Abbey Road forecourt and the access road that runs along the pedestrian arcade. The documents commit that pedestrian access to the arcade will be protected as will a setting down point for vehicles in the Abbey Road forecourt. Dekra expect to be able to make more of the forecourt available for the majority of the construction phase. They do not expect to excavate the main garden until early October 2014.


Where will the scaffolding and any other equipment be located?

Dekra do not intend to scaffold the block. They have rented unit 5 of the Arcade for their offices and staff area. They are currently using a part of the garden to store materials and in October 2014 these will be relocated to the Abbey Road forecourt so that the garden excavation can begin.


Who should I contact if I have a question or a problem?

Dekra have provided a resident liaison officer who also acts as the site manager. Nigel Earnshaw is on call 24 hours a day and his mobile number is at the bottom of the Dekra notices available at each reception area. These notices explain what Dekra intends to do in the near-term and what disruption is therefore likely. If there's anything you want to escalate to GEGRA please email us through the website.


What is happening to lifts as part of the development?

The block currently has five lifts:

Abbey Road Reception
Lift 1 - is to be replaced by Dekra with a brand new lift, which will be extended to reach the new seventh floor. (Jan - Mar 2015)
Lift 2 - is to be replaced by Dekra with a brand new lift. (Mar - May 2015)

Service Lift - is to be replaced by Dekra with a brand new lift, which will be extended to reach the new seventh floor. (Sep - Jan 2015)

Grove End Road Reception
Lifts 3 and 4 - will be unaffected by the development.

In addition, Dekra will be building a new lift to connect the new basement car park to the new seventh floor. This lift will also stop at lower garden level, lawn level and ground level to provide level access to the garden and the rest of the block. This will be completed in July 2015.

How are residents represented?

Grove End Gardens Residents Association (GEGRA) is the democratically elected residents association. It holds an AGM each summer which members may attend for free. Membership costs just £5 for the year to 31-Mar. GEGRA is represented at the Penthouse Liaison Group (PLG) meetings and these take place monthly and involve all of the various stakeholders.


Background - What happened when?

15-Sep-2009 The freeholder, Grove End Housing Limited (GEHL), wrote to residents to announce their development proposals. GEGRA had not been warned and knew nothing of the proposals and so our first priority was to understand what was intended and how it would impact our members.
22-Sep-2009 GEGRA's management committee met with GEHL, their project manager David Peek and their architect Erik Orts-Hantsen. GEGRA explained that it respected GEHL's right to develop on their freehold property and that we understood such schemes were likely to be permitted by WCC's planning policy. All that GEGRA requested was sight of the detailed proposals so that any areas that unnecessarily impacted residents could be discussed and mitigated prior to a formal planning application. GEHL responded saying they would indeed prefer if residents could give their feedback before the submission so that it could take into account any concerns. GEHL intended to submit their planning application in October 2009 and so little time would be available.
23-Sep-2009 Bell Pottinger, GEHL's PR agency, exhibited the penthouse proposals in the Abbey Road Reception. Many residents attended. The visuals gave limited details of the proposals and promised certain benefits.
8-Oct-2009 GEGRA appointed Philip Allard of Planning Perspectives as planning consultants, to advise GEGRA of the planning implications of the proposals.
15-Oct-2009 GEGRA arranged an Extraordinary General Meeting so that members could hear about and discuss the proposals. This was also attended by Gary Medazoumian (Executive Director of GEHL), Catherine Hoyte (of Montagu Evans, planning consultants to GEHL), Erik Orts-Hansen (of KSR Architects, architects to GEHL), David Peek (of Peek Associates, project co-ordinator to GEHL), Chris Martin (of Bell Pottinger, PR to GEHL). Residents raised various concerns and were not unfortunately given the reassurances and concessions they needed. The full minutes are available here.
3-Nov-2009 GEHL submitted their formal planning application to Westminster City Council (WCC) without having given GEGRA any prior opportunity to review it or provide feedback. The planning process is that once the council validate a planning application, interested parties have a three week statutory consultation period in which they may submit formal objections to the council. GEGRA began to scrutinise the formal planning application along with their planning consultants. GEGRA also looked to provide reasons to WCC to invalidate the application so as to delay the process whilst the proposals were scrutinised.
7-Nov-2009 GEGRA wrote to all residents and members to advise that the three week statutory consultation would begin once the application was validated. We explained that with the assistance of our planning consultants we were looking to understand any detrimental effects and would also welcome comments from residents. We explained that if we could reach a reasonable accommodation from GEHL for any such detrimental aspects, then we would recommend residents not object to WCC against the application.
9-Nov-2009 GEGRA wrote to GEHL with their first reaction to the formal planning application listing various errors and concerns.
13-Nov-2009 WCC confirmed that they had invalidated GEHL's planning application.
23-Nov-2009 GEGRA wrote to GEHL listing further errors and concerns.
25-Nov-2009 GEHL confirmed that it would not work with GEGRA to mitigate the detrimental impacts of their proposals and that we should take any concerns we had directly to WCC.
1-Dec-2009 GEHL advised that WCC had validated their planning application. The three weeks of statutory consultation began.
13-Dec-2009 GEGRA formally began its campaign of objections. Full guidance notes were distributed to all residents and members. Letters were written to WCC's planning officer, the local councillors, the local Labour Party MP and the prospective Conservative Party parliamentary candidate.
21-Dec-2009 WCC accepted GEGRA's complaint that they had not communicated the statutory consultation entirely correctly and so they restarted it, giving us a further three weeks.
25-Jan-2010 GEGRA submitted a petition signed by 190 of the 271 flats and 3 of the 4 commercial units, objecting to the development and listing 8 key concerns.
28-Jan-2010 The Wood & Vale local paper covered the story in a half page article on page 2.
21-Apr-2010 WCC's planning sub-committee were due to meet on 29-Apr and so GEGRA wrote a further letter to Councillor Robert Davis listing our key concerns.
23-Apr-2010 Councillor Cyril Nemeth wrote to confirm his support of GEGRA's objections.
25-Apr-2010 WCC's planning officer published his report to the sub-committee. GEGRA wrote a further letter to the planning officer listing our concerns with his report.
26-Apr-2010 WCC confirmed that the application had been withdrawn from the sub-committee meeting agenda as GEHL had changed their proposals to address some of the concerns raised by GEGRA and WCC.
29-Apr-2010 WCC confirmed that the application had been revised and gave a further 14 days statutory consultation.
20-May-2010 WCC advised GEGRA that their planning sub-committee would meet on 27-May to consider the matter. GEGRA set about trying to encourage residents and members to attend the meeting to demonstrate the strength of their objection.
23-May-2010 GEGRA submitted a late representation to the planning sub-committee objecting to the proposals.
27-May-2010 WCC's planning sub-committee met and unanimously decided to refuse GEHL's planning application.
6-Jun-2010 GEGRA wrote to Chris Martin of Bell Pottinger (PR to GEHL) to once again confirm GEGRA's willingness to work with GEHL to mitigate their proposals to reduce the detrimental impact to residents. Furthermore, GEGRA requested that GEHL reimburse its expenses in fighting the first planning application. These amounted to £1,767.93.
6-Jul-2010 GEHL agreed to reimburse GEGRA's expenses and asked GEGRA to supply its mitigation proposals which were submitted on 6-Jul. From this point on, David Peek and Bell Pottinger ceased to be involved.
1-Nov-2010 GEHL wrote to leaseholders and their own tenants explaining that they had adapted their proposals to address the concerns raised by GEGRA. They also agreed to offer compensation for the disruption caused by the development by means of a 20% service charge subsidy, payable for the life of the construction phase of the project.
11-Nov-2010 GEHL provided Planning Perspectives (GEGRA's planning consultants), with their second planning application so this could be reviewed prior to submission to WCC.
10-Dec-2010 Following various meetings and amendments, GEGRA advised GEHL that they would recommend residents not object to their second planning application subject to certain changes.
4-Jan-2011 GEHL formally submitted their modified second planning application to WCC.
18-Jan-2011 WCC validated GEHL's second planning application. The three week statutory consultation began.
24-Jan-2011 GEGRA held an Extraordinary General Meeting to explain to members how GEHL's second application differed from their first and why they would not be objecting to it. The full minutes are available here.
22-Feb-2011 GEGRA wrote to WCC's planning officer stating that it would not object to GEHL's second planning application subject to imposition of nine planning conditions.
The matter stalled as GEHL had to negotiate with WCC a provision for affordable housing. The rules on affordable housing had changed since GEHL's first application and now their proposals fell within what was controlled. Eventually a date for the planning sub-committee meeting was set for 8-Sep.
5-Sep-2011 GEGRA wrote to WCC's planning officer listing various errors and omissions in his report to the planning-subcommittee and asking that these be distributed to the committee.
8-Sep-2011 WCC's planning sub-committee met and decided to award GEHL consent for their second application. The chairman of the committee made specific mention of its thanks to GEGRA for providing its full analysis throughout the process.
2-Apr-2012 GEHL wrote to residents to advise that having received planning consent they intended to undertake certain investigatory works, such as drilling some trial holes, in order to be able to finalise their plans.
10-Oct-2012 The Penthouse Liaison Group (PLG) met for the first time. This group encompasses all stakeholders including: GEHL, Lamberts (their managing agents), Winkworth (their rental agents), GEGRA and it is chaired by Austyn Percy (surveyor to GEHL).
26-Nov-2012 GEHL wrote to leaseholders to advise that they had decided to undertake the development by means of selling a development lease to a third-party developer. Whilst they had selected their preferred developer, the law requires that they provide qualified tenants with the opportunity to match the terms and buy the development lease themselves. This is called 'the right of first refusal'. The law states that qualifying tenants are regulated tenants of GEHL and also leaseholders that own no more than two flats.
30-Nov-2012 Reed Smith (lawyers to GEHL), formally wrote to qualifying tenants with the Offer Notice. This provided qualifiers with two calendar months to determine whether a majority wished to take up their first refusal rights. The lease sale had been agreed with the preferred developer at £6,511,000.
18-Dec-2012 GEGRA wrote to all qualifiers and members to explain the process and to ask if they wished to take up their first refusal rights. GEHL had advised GEGRA that there were 156 qualifiers (therefore requiring 79 for a majority). A majority was not forthcoming.
14-Jan-2013 GEGRA received an offer of £790,000 (plus costs) from the experienced penthouse development company Dekra, who wished to buy the development lease using the qualifying tenants' right of first refusal.
14-Jan-2013 GEGRA advised GEHL that an offer had been received and was being considered prior to consultation with qualifying tenants.
15-Jan-2013 GEHL informed GEGRA that if qualifying tenants took up their first refusal rights, GEHL would withdraw the 20% service charge subsidy that had been promised within their letter of 1-Nov-2010. This letter had intended to encourage residents to accept their second planning application.
23-Jan-2013 GEHL would not disclose the identity of their preferred developer or why they were preferred. This developer did not provide a counter offer and so GEGRA felt it had no choice other than to distribute Dekra's offer to qualifying tenants citing a response deadline of 28-Jan, so that if a majority were formed, the formal acceptance could be lodged with Reed Smith on 1-Feb.
30-Jan-2013 Having reached a majority of qualifiers wishing to take up their first refusal rights, GEGRA appointed Seddons as its lawyers to act.
1-Feb-2013 Seddons submitted the formal acceptance notice to Reed Smith. Qualifiers representing 92 flats had elected to participate.
With Seddons' assistance the transaction was formalised. A company called Grove End Gardens London Limited (GEGLL) was formed with David Burr (DB, Chair of GEGRA) as sole director and shareholder in trust on behalf of the participating qualifying tenants. A participation agreement was drafted and 89 qualifiers formally signed it. The agreement involved the participants nominating GEGLL to take up their first refusal rights to buy the development lease for £6,511,000 and for DB to simultaneously sell GEGLL to Dekra for £790,000. The accountants Gerald Edelman were appointed to provide tax advice to DB.
28-Mar-2013 Seddons submitted the formal nomination notice to Reed Smith. Qualifiers representing 89 flats had signed up and were included.
28-Mar-2013 GEGRA wrote to GEHL setting out why it would be advantageous for it to accept the GEGLL/Dekra offer.
3-Apr-2013 GEHL confirm that they would like to proceed with the sale to GEGLL/Dekra and that they will now stand by their 1-Nov-2010 promise, to provide compensation for the life of the construction phase, by means of the 20% service charge subsidy.
18-Jun-2013 The transaction is completed. GEHL sell the development lease to GEGLL. DB sells GEGLL to Dekra.
19-Jun-2013 Seddons began to distribute the sale proceeds. Each participating flat was due the equal share of £8,876.40 less Seddons' payment transfer charge of £45.60.
9-Sep-2013 Dekra begin to set up their construction site. This involves the installation of perimeter fences around the site, widening the Abbey Road entrance and access road and excavation of the north-east corner of the rockery so that a hoist can be assembled.
13-Jan-2014 Dekra began the construction phase of the project. This triggers the beginning of the service charge subsidy, an estimate of which was credited to the Oct-2003 half-yearly service charge demands.
© David Burr 2022

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