Anstruther South Kensington Estates Leaflet
This leaflet has been produced by the Executive Committee of the Anstruther Kensington Estates Management Scheme* representing enfranchised owners, lessees and the landlord. It is addressed to everyone affected by the Scheme and is intended to explain in layman’s terms what this means in practice.
You will have received a copy of the full text of the Scheme either before it came into effect or at the time you bought your house or your lease. This leaflet aims to support but not to override the full text which we urge you to study carefully.
The need for a Scheme
The Anstruther South Kensington Estates Management Schemes – the Scheme* – provides a framework of management for the continued conservation of the Estate in the context of the Leasehold Reform Acts. Its purpose is to benefit owners and leaseholders alike.
Those opposed in principle to the concept of Estate Management Schemes argue that strong planning policies and an increasing public awareness of the value and fragility of the built environment are sufficient to ensure the conservation of the historic estates as they pass out of the hands of the landlord to individual owners. In reality, planning law alone cannot be relied upon to provide the sanctions against undesirable alteration or plain neglect that are provided under the terms of a lease and which will continue to be provided under the Scheme as leaseholders enfranchise.
Pressures for development and change increase year by year and the very affluence that can promote conservation can also work against it: developers strive to maximise profit whilst individual owners pursue their own aspirations - both may act without due regard either to the interests of neighbours or to the effect on the area as a whole. Over time, unchecked individualism and the lack of a wider perspective can lead to the gradual erosion of architectural quality. Furthermore, without the obligations imposed under the terms of a lease, there is a danger that the overall appearance of the area will be a hit-and-miss affair, dependant upon the circumstance and whim of each individual owner.
Whilst the Scheme certainly does constrict the freedom of an enfranchised owner, by the same token it also offers protection from a neighbour’s undesirable development. It will only succeed if it is thoroughly understood and widely supported.
* To meet a fine legal point raised by the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal, three identical schemes had to be substituted for the single scheme first presented for approval. However, the intention is that they should operate as one. The terms ‘the Scheme’ and ‘the Estate’ used throughout this leaflet therefore refer to all three schemes/estates.
In terms of townscape and architectural quality, the tenure of this area of South Kensington by large estates, Henry Smith’s Charity Estate [now the Wellcome Trust Estate] and the smaller Alexander Estate [now the Anstruther South Kensington Estates] adjoining it, had a profound effect on the way in which it was developed. There was, and still remains, a unity of design throughout the Anstruther and Wellcome estates and, although the style changed in response to the dictates of taste as time passed, the layout of terraces, squares and crescents is remarkably consistent.
The architect George Basevi, who had worked for Sir John Soane from 1810 to 1816, was active on both estates and responsible for much of their layout: he was first appointed surveyor to the Alexander Estate in 1829 and is known to have designed individual terraces, for instance nos. 18 - 20 Thurloe Place.
You will find a brief history of the Estate on the last page with suggestions for further background reading.
... and how this has been achieved in the past
- through planning legislation
Successive post-war legislation introduced since the 1947 Town & Country Planning Act has responded to increasing pressure for development, particularly in valuable inner city areas, and a greater appreciation of the importance of the built heritage.
Legislation for the Listing of buildings of special architectural quality or historical significance was introduced in 1962. It was controlled first by the Historic Buildings Departments of the LCC followed by the GLC, then by English Heritage and latterly, in our case, through The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea. With the exception of Thurloe Close, Thurloe Lodge, Amberwood House and numbers 2 and 21 Alexander Place, every building within the Scheme is Listed Grade II.
The quality and importance of the Estate was recognised in 1968 when it was included in the Thurloe Estate and Smith’s Charity Conservation Area – the first to be designated by the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea. In 1981, after constructive consultation with the Estate and the Brompton Association, the Council adopted a Conservation Area Policy Statement setting out the elements which lead to the area’s distinctiveness and the statutory provision and Council policies by which it is hoped to conserve it.
- through Estate Management policy
When leasehold enfranchisement legislation was introduced in 1967 to cover properties below a prescribed ratable value, the Act recognised the importance of conserving the historic estates and included provision for setting up Estate Management Schemes.
By that time, the original Alexander Estate had been split into separate estates. As far as the area covered by the Scheme is concerned, these were the Alexander and Thurloe Trust Estates and the Thurloe Estate.
The 1967 Act affected only Thurloe Close on the Alexander Trust Estate and a Management Scheme for this area was approved in 1977. The threshold for qualification was raised by further legislation in 1974 and a second Management Scheme, for the remainder of the Alexander Trust Estate, was approved in 1982.
The 1993 Leasehold Reform Act extended enfranchisement to all leasehold properties, regardless of value, and the decision was taken to apply for a new comprehensive Estate Management Scheme to cover properties in all three estates. The aim was to build on and improve the two existing schemes to provide a vehicle for the continued good management of the area as a whole.
It was recognised from the outset that to work efficiently for the benefit of all parties, it was essential for the Scheme to have the wide support of existing owners and leaseholders and sufficient ‘teeth’ to be effective. The present Scheme is the result of constructive negotiation between the landlord’s side and leaseholders and owners, culminating in a hearing before the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal supported by the owners and leaseholders association. The Scheme was approved on the 23 June 1998 and registered with the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea on 31 July 1998 when it became a Local Land Charge and therefore binding on each enfranchised property within it.
What is its purpose?
To enable the landlord, working with the owners, to continue to regulate the development, use and appearance of the Estate for the benefit of all once the Landlord has lost these powers under the terms of a lease.
Who does it affect?
All owners are bound by the obligations and conditions contained in the Scheme. This includes not only enfranchised owners who have bought their houses under the Leasehold Reform Acts but also the landlord who, unusually, has agreed to be bound by the terms of the Scheme in respect of leasehold properties.
What are these obligations and conditions and how can they be enforced?
An owner’s obligations are similar to the covenants and conditions which were contained in his previous long lease and can be enforced by the landlord.
There are restrictions under the First Schedule as to:
... and positive obligations under the Second Schedule to:
Block painting is the painting of the street elevations of all the houses in a block of property – normally a terrace – at the same time and to a uniform colour scheme. It is particularly important on an estate like this because the intention of the original architects was to present the development as a series of unified terraces rather than a collection of individual houses – if you look at Alexander Square, for instance, you will see that the central pair of houses step forward below a small pediment giving the impression that each of the two terraces is a single composition.
The Scheme ensures that block painting continues to be carried out regularly but it allows the owners and leaseholders in any particular block to choose one of two options for its implementation.
Either they can decide, through a Block Representative, to follow the procedure set out in the Second Schedule and arrange and pay for painting themselves - with the landlord's surveyors acting as monitors - or they can allow the landlord, fulfilling its own obligation under the Third Schedule, to arrange for painting and to charge back the costs to them in the way that happens under the terms of a long lease.
The composition of the eight different Blocks of Property within the Scheme and the way in which Block Representatives are to be appointed are set out under Clause 1 - Definitions - on page 4 of the Scheme.
Thurloe and Alexander Squares remain in the ownership of the landlord but the Scheme empowers it to delegate at its discretion and sets out a framework for this. Details of the landlord’s representative and the Block Representatives can be found on the EMS contact list.
Thurloe Square Gardens are overseen by a Garden Committee made up of the landlords representative and the two EMS Block Representatives for the Square. Information about the management of Alexander Square can be obtained from the Block Representative or the landlord’s representative.
-and the communal roadways
The Estate includes three communal roadways – Alexander Square, Thurloe Close and the roadway to Amberwood House and Thurloe Lodge. Provisions relating to upkeep are set out in the Fifth Schedule on pages 28-29.
Under the Scheme [Clause 3], the landlord retains control over all external alterations or additions to enfranchised properties and its approval must be sought in addition to Planning and Listed Building consents for the work.
Owners are responsible for costs reasonably and properly incurred by the landlord in connection with applications for approval.
It is important to remember that Listed Building consent is required for all internal as well as external alterations, whether to the original building fabric or to later work. The Council’s planning and conservation officers are generally able to advise on proposals at an early stage as is the landlord’s professional team.
A set of guidelines is available from the Managing Agents for anyone planning alterations to their house. Those covering external alterations apply to freeholders and leaseholders alike. Only leaseholders are bound by the provisions relating to internal alterations but owners of freehold houses may find them a useful pointer as to what is generally required for Listed Building Consent.
The Scheme provides that owners together with leaseholders of unenfranchised property are represented on an Executive Committee established to enable them to participate in and discuss the operation of the Scheme and to be consulted by the landlord. Provisions for setting up and running the committee are set out in the Sixth Schedule on pages 29-33.
Owners and leaseholders are represented through the Thurloe Owners and Leaseholders Association [TOLA], formerly the Thurloe Leaseholders Association.
The Executive Committee is administered through TOLA. Of its eleven members, eight represent the owners/ leaseholders - the Owner Members - and three represent the landlord – the Estate Members. The committee must meet at least once a year.
Each of the eight Owner Members is elected to represent one Block of property. This has two major advantages: first, it ensures equal representation from all parts of the Estate and, second, it facilitates arrangements for block painting since it is likely, though not obligatory, that an Owner Member will also be a Block Representative.
The names and addresses of current Committee Members and Block Representatives are listed on a separate sheet enclosed with this leaflet or available through TOLA - see page 8 for address
For the smooth running of the Estate, it is important to have an up to date and accurate record of ownership. Procedures for notifying a change of ownership of freehold properties are laid down under Clause 4 of the Scheme on pages 6-7.
The Scheme provides for the cost of ‘all proper expenses reasonably incurred by the Executive Committee’ to be met by all the owners in equal shares. In this context, owners means owners of freehold property and therefore includes the landlord in the case of the leasehold properties it still retains.
Provisions for raising money for the payment of management costs incurred by the Executive Committee and the landlord are set out under Section 11 of the Second Schedule and can be summarised as follows:
Owners, including the landlord in the case of leasehold properties, contribute £100 per annum, payable on 31 December in each year – this sum can be increased if it proves insufficient for the purposes of the Scheme.
The landlord prepares an annual budget for the following accounting year and submits this for the approval of the Executive Committee.
At the end of each accounting year, the accounts must be made available for inspection and any surplus carried forward.
Alterations to the external fabric of the building may not commence without the landlord's consent as well as approval by the Local Authority.
Applications for a license to alter, accompanied by drawings, must be made through the Managing Agents who can advise you on the procedure to follow. Approved proposals will be licensed by the landlord's Solicitors - see address below.
Reasonable professional fees incurred on behalf of the landlord are chargeable to the applicant and the works will be inspected in progress and on completion.
In this context, alteration includes all those small changes which, particularly on the street elevations, have an incremental affect on the general appearance of the whole area.
Even minor alterations to doors, windows, railings, steps and pipework, or the installation of dish aerials, vents and grilles, may require Listed Building consent as well as licensing. Others are subject only to policies adopted by the landlord with the support of the Executive Committee and the co-operation of owners, for example:
You should study the detailed guidelines to Estate policies (obtainable from the Managing Agents) before proposing even a minor alteration which might affect the external appearance of your house.
The Council's planning policies are set out in its current Unitary Development Plan (UDP): Part II Chapter 4 - Conservation and Development - covers policies for alterations and extensions to buildings.
A Conservation Area Policy Statement (CAPS) for Thurloe and Smith's Charity North contains specific planning policies for this area. Both documents are obtainable from the Council's Planning Enquiry Office - see page 8 for address - and may be consulted at the TOLA office.
In addition, the TOLA office holds useful information on products and fittings suitable for the repair and reinstatement of original features such as fireplaces, plaster mouldings, windows etc. Two excellent series of design guides are also available there for reference:
The Brompton Association represents the views of people living and working in the wider area covered by the Thurloe and Smith's Charity North and Brompton Conservation Areas and is consulted by the Local Authority on applications for Planning and Listed Building consents. The Association may be contacted through the TOLA office.
The Clients Advisory Service of the Royal Institute of British Architects is happy to suggest the names of architects with experience of working with Listed Buildings - see page 8 for address.