'Keep Kensal Green': Petition against Ladbroke Grove Sainsbury's redevelopment

The Keep Kensal Green petition opposes a major development on the Sainsbury's site in Ladbroke Grove, Kensington and Chelsea.
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The creator of a petition against a huge housing development in London has warned of risks from contaminated land.

Jude Allen is behind the Keep Kensal Green petition, which has attracted more than 3,000 signatures since its launch in April.

Sainbury's and the developer Ballymore have since submitted a planning proposal for the brownfield site around the Ladbroke Grove supermarket, known as Kensal Canalside. The land is across the Grand Union Canal from Kensal Green Cemetery, in Kensington and Chelsea.

The proposed 'Project Flourish' would include 2,519 homes, of which at least 500 would be affordable, and two parks. It would stretch across 90,000 square feet, as well as 13,000 square feet for a new Sainsbury’s.

Allen said: “One of the biggest concerns is the fact that the land is toxic, it’s contaminated.

“The problem is when they go to clean the industrial site they have to dig it up to remove it and replace it with clean soil…the point at which you dig it up is the point it is released into the atmosphere.

“We are completely freaked out that the site has this nasty stuff underneath the soil. The Sainsbury’s will remain open during the whole process, so you’ll have people walking through toxic stuff to do their shopping.

“It’s time for these dinosaur developments to be replaced with new ideas, new concepts for building that are much more in line with what we need to deal with climate change.”

A spokesperson for Ballymore told LondonWorld the former gasworks site "has already undergone substantial remediation and results show that much of the contamination has been removed".

The Ladbroke Grove Sainsbury's site. (Photo by Google Maps)The Ladbroke Grove Sainsbury's site. (Photo by Google Maps)
The Ladbroke Grove Sainsbury's site. (Photo by Google Maps)

In Kensington and Chelsea, it is estimated that air pollution has led to 48 premature deaths every year in the borough, according to a report published by Kensington and Chelsea Council in 2022.

Asthma sufferers are going to particularly suffer, as the toxic pollutants dug up from the soil can spread as far as five kilometres, Allen said.

In London in 2021/22, 3,645 children and young people were admitted to hospital with asthma, according to data published by City Hall.

A new canalside neighbourhood is proposed for Ladbroke Grove. (Photo by Ballymore and Sainsbury’s)A new canalside neighbourhood is proposed for Ladbroke Grove. (Photo by Ballymore and Sainsbury’s)
A new canalside neighbourhood is proposed for Ladbroke Grove. (Photo by Ballymore and Sainsbury’s)

A Ballymore spokesperson said: “The safety of the site is our utmost priority and we have been working closely with specialist advisers to carry out thorough research and investigative works. The site has already undergone substantial remediation and results show that much of the contamination has been removed.

“Before any works begin, strict environmental controls will be put in place to maintain safety for nearby residents and workers. This includes removing all contaminated materials offsite to be treated, erecting a 2.4m perimeter hoarding around the site and continuous monitoring for dust, noise, odour and vibrations.

“We absolutely recognise the importance of ensuring that the community feels safe and secure and we will continue to engage closely with the local community throughout the planning process, including specifically on this issue.”

The site would be about 15 minutes’ walk from four tube stations - Kensal Green, Kensal Rise, Ladbroke Grove and Westbourne Park.

If the planning application is successful, the 11-year construction is expected to begin in 2025, with the first homes being delivered in 2030.

The Ballymore spokesperson said: “Over the last three years, we have worked closely with the Ladbroke Grove community to ensure the proposed development can best serve local people and meet local needs.

“These contributions have been invaluable in guiding the design process and have prompted significant adaptations, including reducing the height of buildings and redeveloping the junction to improve traffic flow.

“We will continue to engage closely with the local community, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and other relevant bodies over the proposals as we create a vibrant future for Ladbroke Grove and Kensal Canalside.”