Canalside: Curiouser and Curiouser

Rumours of Canalside House’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. By the building’s owner, Kensington and Chelsea council…

Canalside House on Ladbroke Grove in North Kensington


Latest News

At the December 3rd Housing and Property Scrutiny Committee meeting at Kensington Town Hall, RBKC planning officers stated that the “demolition” of Canalside House that Conservative councillors had been pushing for is not necessary.

The admission at the scrutiny committee came less than a week after planning officers from the Kensal-Canalside Opportunity Area Delivery Team visited Canalside residents, informing them that the building “does not need to go to deliver the site” and “we basically do not need to demolish the site”.

This was news to the 14 resident organisations, who had been told in September by deputy leader of the council, Kim Taylor-Smith, that “part or all of the building will require demolition” to “maximise the density on the Kensal Gas Works development“.


Taylor-Smith’s was the council’s third attempt in recent history to remove the mix of charities, CICs and other third sector groups from the community hub. In 2016 RBKC told residents that they would be moving to a building on Latimer Road, judged by the Canalside organisations to be “wholly inappropriate”. Only the Grenfell Tower fire and its political fallout prevented the forced relocation. In January this year the council set its sights on Canalside again, but residents and activists fought off the attempt to sell the building and turn it into private flats. 

The fact that Canalside need not be demolished had apparently been known to planners for months, following surveys of the area. The planning officers expressed frustration that senior councilors had failed to communicate this to Canalside residents, who were left with uncertainty about their ability to deliver their services in the medium and long terms.

This third u-turn by RBKC raises questions about whether senior Conservative councillors are taking care to equip themselves with facts before pursuing actions on autopilot that would have a profound affect on North Kensington. In creating uncertainty and insecurity around one of the area’s few remaining community spaces, the council has done nothing to change its reputation for being on the side of property speculators at the expense of the local population.


New Ward

Despite all the cynicism that the council has aroused, it has the chance to use Canalside House to come good on its promise of “change”. The development will transform the site, effectively creating “a new council ward” as one councillor put it. The Mayor of London’s website states that redeveloping Kensal-Canalside has the potential to create 2,000 jobs and a minimum of 3,500 new homes.

At their meeting with the residents, planning officers outlined two viable options: for the organisations to stay in an upgraded Canalside House or to move to a state-of-the-art building on the Gas Works development. Either option could ensure that diversity, history and culture are retained in the area. The residents are interested in exploring both. It remains to be seen whether or not the council will engage with them in earnest or if they will remain in the shadows before come round for a fourth raid on Canalside.


By Tom Charles @tomhcharles

Our previous articles on Canalside House can be found here

Boxing Clever

I just want to be a righteous man

bring love ‘n’ peace to where I can

cannot live by your twisted rules

made by those I see as fools


no matter your race, faith or creed,

accent, class, LGBT…

whatever you are is fine with me

Yer, we’re all being played

like a cheap violin

Same old tune – same old din!


Identity politics

fed by emotion

told what to think

deluded devotion

accusation – the new weapon of war

Thought Police now coming

to kick down your door


Utopia creators

mind mutilators

shifting sands of ideology

must control new technology

left-wing fascists? How sad

Political fashionistas chasing a fad


Into the sunset – slowly I ride

away from madness – brains that are fried!

This much I know – this much I’ve learned

lonely are the brave – respect is hard earned


I know my enemies – they come with a knife

know where I stand – they want my life!

You come as a friend – offer your hand

take away our freedom

give away our land

My faith in my God

will always be true

whatever my journey – it will carry me through

so all aboard this final last train

full of men and women

who’ve learned to live with their pain!


Like Lenny I see rabbits

running round inside my head

yesterday’s dreams, as George shoots him dead!

Like an Autumn leaf

crushed inside a small child’s hand

Nothing but dust – blown away like sand

My time is over – my time is done

this shy peaceful man – forever on the run…



©M.C. Bolton, November 2018