Living in Kensington Hell and Damnation


I did a radio interview on Radio London this morning at 8.45am. For someone like me who regularly gets to sleep about 4am because that’s how my work schedule works out, this is not a pleasant prospect. But today I have been offered 6 minutes of radio time to put my point of view. I’m grateful. Just to make it more jolly, they will also have someone from the Council on the end of the phone to put the ‘alternative point of view’.

I didn’t sleep, of course, last night, rehearsing in my mind what I might say to get the point across, the anger building up as I think what we’ve all suffered here, waiting for that phone call, knowing I was going to be more frustrated at the end of the conversation than before. These are my scribbled notes I made while waiting for the phone to ring.


There are thousands of us Kensington residents who feel utterly betrayed by you, the council, because you have allowed unscrupulous people to make our lives unbearable for years on end, and with no sign of it ever ending.

“We have brought in the Article 4 Direction. Now all basements have to go down the planning permission route. With this in place, our toolkit is complete and we can now ensure that all future basement development is sensible and proportionate.”

Yes, you have taken some steps in the right direction. But, dear Tim Coleridge, all the misery we have suffered in my street is from applications which DID go down the planning permission route !! So Article 4 makes no difference to us. Because you GAVE the permissions. You allowed this antisocial behaviour to take place.

“Ensure that all future basement development is sensible and proportionate.” ?

That’s like saying … oh we’re going to make sure all events in which old ladies are beaten up are sensible and proportionate. The only way to make basement extensions sensible and proportionate is to STOP them.

NO BASEMENT EXTENSION IS SENSIBLE and PROPORTIONATE if it makes 100 people’s lives unbearable for 3 years. It’s UNACCEPTABLE.

You have to stop ALL basement building in established residential areas. You have to say no to any plan which involves massive excavation and pile driving. It simply CANNOT be done without wrecking residents’ lives. You, the Council, are supposed to be there to protect us from incursions into our quality of life. These building works benefit only the unspeakably selfish people who are embarking on these projects purely to make money.

STOP it NOW. And if you don’t have the authority … I will personally speak to the Mayor of London and ask him to overrule your decisions and put some protection in place … to try to make London a decent place to have a peaceful life.

I HATE this.

I hate being forced to be angry every day of my life. I hate waking every morning to the sound of drills, angle grinders, piling rigs, heavy machinery, lorries beeping as they reverse past my door, vibrating the whole house. It’s 8.45 am and they’re outside my window right now … loading stone blocks on to a lorry with a giant crane. A JCB is digging Earth on the other side … it’s been doing that 6 days a week for the past 4 years.

All last night, waiting for the phone to ring for this radio interview, knowing I was going to find myself arguing with someone who will tell me I’m some kind of spoilt rich kid, the resentment in me built up. It’s bad enough fighting every day with people who want to abuse animals. Now, in addition, being abused myself every day by these grossly inconsiderate bastards is killing me. My guts are permanently messed up. I’m suffering from sleep deprivation on a constant basis.

This morning, after trying to remain calm about this for over 7 years, I’m spitting blood. I’ve become a person I don’t like any more.

This country is now dominated by greed, selfishness, privilege, and downright boorish behaviour. The countryside is dominated by people who regard anyone or any creature who gets in their way is disposable, and can be victimised or eliminated. The cities are dominated by pure exploitation of the middle classes and the poor by a minority of rich people, mainly inherited wealth protected by off-shore investment, who are using these builds purely as a way to make money, with no regard whatsoever for any of us.

My neighbour round the corner has already moved out, and only occasionally visits his house, which he unable to sell because of the disruption all around it. He feels that our children and our pets are no longer safe with all the increased heavy traffic … says he had to grab his toddler the other day when a lorry sped round the corner not paying attention, probably a driver unfamiliar with these small roads.

The lady interviewer says “But how can you tell someone who wants to beautify their home and expand it, that they can’t do it ?”

Well, suppose you had a meeting with your architect, about building a swimming pool and a car park under your house and garden, and they told you … “Yes, we can do that, and it will make the lives of all your neighbours a misery for three years.”

Would you press on ? Would you say … “OK. That seems fine to me. What I want is much more important than what they want”. Well, in the case of 9 properties around our street – yes, NINE – people have made exactly that decision.

This is ALL unacceptable.  It’s time we all stood up and stopped it, along with all the other activities which are going on right now, increasing the gap between the super-rich and the ordinary people of Britain, and ignoring the right of decent people to decent treatment.  

I HATE being beaten on the head every day, being made to fight for my life and that of my family, being full of hate and anger and frustration every day of my life … it’s making me ill … I cannot go on like this.  I make music … I’m in rehearsals for the upcoming Queen Summer tour of festivals in Europe … I need to be NOT using up all my energy fighting for my life.  I need to be decently rested, to be able to work at my job.  These people have ruined my life, made it impossible for me to work and do the things which I want to do, and I believe a lot of people want me to do.  

Royal Borough of Kensington has moved things forward by limiting the number of floors permitted in a basement build, and some other small changes to noise allowed at weekends, but sadly it’s too little too late. 

Somebody has to STOP this madness.