High streets and placemaking in Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

This report looks at high streets in Kensington and Chelsea and how they can recover from the pandemic. We take an in-depth look at three very different high streets in the borough and create action plans, alongside case studies for ideas and inspiration.

High streets are at the heart of local communities – 70 per cent of residents in Kensington and Chelsea live within 200 metres of a high street – and for many people their importance has increased through the pandemic as we have been staying local more. New licenses for al fresco dining, and changes to make walking and cycling easier have had a significant impact on high streets around London.

This research examines the effects of temporary pandemic-era interventions into place shaping on the borough’s residents and businesses and, in partnership with local people, propose a longer-term plan for the borough.

This report looks at high streets in Kensington and Chelsea and how they can recover from the pandemic, with in-depth looks at Portobello Road, Notting Hill Gate and Gloucester Road. The report creates high street action plans and proposes improvements such as better street lighting and greening, public art, events and walking routes.

The action plans are based on a series of placemaking principles, which state that good high streets combine retail, hospitality, culture and essential services in a concentration that is compelling and sustainable. The report argues that high streets should:

  • Be places people want to visit and to stay, with facilities which encourage people to spend time there and to connect with others
  • Adapt and change based on involvement from the community, and on learning from what has worked here and elsewhere
  • Work for everyone: from babies to teenagers to working-age adults to older people
  • Be healthy places, which encourage active travel, and with as little traffic noise and pollution as possible
  • Have their own individual character based on their unique history and geography
  • Be part of the solution to the climate crisis: reducing emissions and adapting to changing conditions, and with plenty of plants and green space
  • Be places for culture, art, festivals, events and activities: during the day and into the evening.

What happens next

In phase two of the project, we will focus on sustainable transport in the borough – looking in general at the balance between different modes of transport in and around high streets, and specifically at active travel and modes of travel along High Street Kensington. This part of the work will be completed in summer 2022.

More information on the project.

This research was commissioned by