Architects in Kensington
Kensington, nestled in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in West London, is a blend of stately Victorian architecture, high-end amenities, and iconic landmarks such as Kensington Palace, the Royal Albert Hall, and the Victoria & Albert Museum. This affluent neighbourhood, with its bustling Kensington High Street, embassies, and scenic parks, stands as one of London’s most prized districts.
Founded in 2015 by Dan Marks, MATA Architects is a RIBA chartered practice just a stone’s throw away in Westbourne Green. Specialising in residential, commercial, and interior design, we also have expertise in renovating listed properties and projects in conservation zones.
Our collaborative ethos involves working closely with our clients, crafting unique architectural designs that enhance your lifestyle. Merging practicality with creative flair, we sidestep typical construction challenges to deliver impeccably designed spaces.
For expert architectural guidance in Kensington, schedule a no-obligation consultation with us. We’re here to bring your vision to life.
Planning Applications in Kensington
We can help you understand more about how planning permissions are processed and what to do after submitting your planning application. Further advice on planning permissions in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea is available here.
How to Get Planning Permission in a Conservation Area in Kensington
Planning permission is formal permission from a local authority for the alteration or erection of buildings. It can be granted, based on certain conditions being met, or refused.
Conservation areas exist to protect the special architectural and historic interests of an area. Planning applications are considered in regard to conservation policies as local authorities must take into account the need to preserve or enhance the area when deciding whether to grant planning permission.
Applying for planning permission in a Conservation Area (CA) requires more detailed supporting information than an equivalent application outside of a CA.
A robust and carefully considered proposal that demonstrates an awareness and response to local policy and design guidance will stand a much greater chance of success.
The Kensington & Chelsea Conservation Area audits and planning guides are available here. These guides are a material consideration at the planning stage and provide some direction on what is and isn’t possible in terms of design alterations.
There are 38 designated conservation areas in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea that cover roughly 70% of the area. These include Avondale, Brompton, Colville, Kensington Square, Ladbroke, Oxford Gardens & Sloane Square, etc.
Check if your property is located within a conservation area on the CA search page.
How to Make a Planning Application in Kensington
It is your responsibility to decide whether or not planning permission is required and submitting an application where relevant.
Information on online planning applications, the documents you will need, validation checklists and fees for the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea are available here.
Need expert advice on planning permission? With a proven track record and a 100% success rate at planning, let us navigate the planning process for you.
As experts in the field, we know how to manage risk and identify opportunities that pave the way to a successful planning application. Find out more.
How long does a planning decision take?
Applications usually take between six to eight weeks, but this could be longer depending on the complexity of the proposed project.
Read our more in-depth guide on how long it takes to be granted planning permission.
What happens after a planning decision is made?
Provided that no complications arise while reviewing your application, your local authority will email/post a decision notice to you.
If applying online, you can check the status of your application through the council’s planning application search, or wait until you or your agent receive the decision by post.
How long does planning permission last?
By law, you usually have three years from the time of approval to implement planning permission and begin development. If you haven’t started any planned works within the set timeframe, your application will be considered ‘expired’. At this point, the planning permission is no longer valid and you will likely need to reapply.
Read our full guide on planning permission expiry here.
What can I do if my planning application is refused?
If your planning application is rejected or you are not satisfied with the conditions of your planning permission, you have the right to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.
The appeal will be considered by a planning inspector appointed by the Secretary of State. While most appeals are handled in writing, some are decided by a hearing and some after a public inquiry.
You can search for appeals in the RBKC appeal search.
Do I need planning permission for an extension?
It is important to distinguish between an extension that necessitates a detailed planning application and one that falls under Permitted Development (PD).
If your planned works fall under the former category you do not need explicit permission from the local authority and a planning application will not be necessary.
In this case, though, we would recommend that a Certificate of Lawfulness of Proposed Use or Development (CLOPUD) is sought from the local authority in order to create a formal record of the works and their legitimacy.
Read our guide on further planning & regulations and Article 4 directions.
Are there Fees for Submitting Planning Applications in Kensington?
The local authority fee for a Householder planning application is £206.
Fees are determined by local authorities on the assessment of a planning application and the scale and nature of your proposed development.
You’ll also need to allow for the fees of an architect, other consultants and specialist surveys. Read more about the costs involved here.
How to Get Listed Building Consent in Kensington
A listed building is a building that has been placed on the Statutory List of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.
Buildings on this list may not be demolished, extended or altered without listed building consent.
Applying for listed building consent requires yet more detailed supporting information than an equivalent application for a non-listed building.
To increase the chances of a successful application, rigorous research and documentation of the property’s historical significance is required from the outset and this would form a Heritage Statement in support of the application.
In developing our design proposals for a listed building, we will identify and catalogue every aspect of the scheme that impacts on the building. Some aspects will have a positive impact on the historic nature of the property (such as reinstating lost or damaged historic features) whilst others will be deemed to have a negative impact (such as erosion of the original cellular plan form by opening up spaces).
This catalogue of positive and negative impacts forms the backbone of a Heritage Impact Assessment that will also support the application for planning & listed building consent.
Ultimately, this is a fine-tuned balancing act and the aim of the game is to demonstrate that, whilst there may be some negative impacts, these are outweighed by more positive ones so that on balance the scheme can be viewed as positive.
We will often work with specialist heritage consultants to identify opportunities and constraints and develop proposals that balance and respond to these.
There are over 4,000 listed buildings in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, of which 70% are in a conservation area. Search Historic England listed register to find listed buildings near you.
Learn more about our listed building consent services here.
Our Architectural Services in Kensington
Book a free consultation
We’ll listen to your ideas and give you our informed opinion
We’ll tailor a strategy and scope of service to suit your needs
You’ll receive an initial project brief and a clear mapping out of the next steps, together with our fee proposal
Frequently Asked Questions
To get started, here are some of the more frequent questions clients’ have at the initial exploratory stages
Can I meet with you initially at no cost?
You can book a free 45-minute consultation in our studio or via zoom. We’ll discuss your project and answer your questions face to face. Make a booking here.
Following this conversation, if you like the idea of working with us and feel we’d be a good fit for your project, we are happy to offer a follow up meeting at your home at no cost.
I don’t exactly know what I want to build yet? How or where do we begin?
It begins with a conversation. During our initial phone consultation, we’ll ask probing questions of your brief to help assess it’s viability.
The next step involves a diagnostic stage we call ‘Project Discovery’ (RIBA Work Stages 0-1 / Feasibility). We'll address your brief through the exploration of a number of alternative sketch proposals and assess the implications of each (time / cost / risk etc).
Beyond this we can tailor our scope of architectural services to suit your specific requirements and budget.
Whether you engage us for a full service from feasibility to completion or, at first, just for the ‘Project Discovery’ (more on that soon), you are only ever committed to the current work stage. So, you can (and we’d encourage you to) start small with a discrete piece of work to help figure out the extent of the project and then add to the scope of service as suits your needs and budget.
This initial piece of work can also be a good way to dip your toe into the architectural process and gauge what it’s like to work with us before committing to a longer-term working relationship.
How will you ensure we stick to my budget?
Sticking to budget is critical. One of the common pitfalls of a construction project is losing control of the budget (or not having one in the first place).
To keep a handle on costs from the outset, our process involves a cycle of designing, communicating and costing. We do this by:
- We will talk about costs early and often. ‘Cost’ is not a dirty word.
- We’ll be upfront with you and make you aware of choices that are likely to increase the budget, and provide cost effective alternatives to these.
- Early involvement of a Quantity Surveyor (QS) to assist with cost control. This involvement could range from a full service to a discrete piece of work in the form of an Initial Cost Model (at the end of Concept Design Stage) to help forecast cost and interrogate in detail where the money is being spent, which in turn helps identify opportunities for savings.
- Strict vetting of contractors to ensure quality, reliability and value for money.
How long does a typical residential project take?
A range of factors impact timeframes. This includes project complexity, speed of client feedback and decisions and local authority approvals. To give you a broad idea allow for a:-
- Simple project: 4-6 months for design and 4-6 months on site.
- Complex renovation or build: 6-9 months for design and 9-12 months on site.
- Planning approval: if your project requires planning approval add 2 months to the above timescales.
Can you tell me how you structure your fees and what they are?
Like all professional services, architectural fees are not cheap (but neither is getting the design wrong, by the way). However, it might help to view them as an investment.
That said, we are cost conscious at every step of the way. Once the project scope is defined at the start of the journey, we’ll fix our fees and prepare a schedule of invoicing so that you know exactly what you are paying and when. Everything is transparent and clear.
In addition to our design process, working with us also provides access to our years of accumulated knowledge and experience. You will benefit from our network of specialist consultants, industry suppliers and our team’s ability to guide you through the process, avoiding the common pitfalls of construction to deliver life-enhancing architecture.
We offer multiple service tiers to accommodate different budgets and goals:
‘Project Discovery’ / (RIBA Stages 0-1) (from £1,500 +VAT)
Get an informed opinion on your ideas and gain clarity on design direction and budget.
We approach this early-stage work as a ‘diagnostic’ stage. We’ll ask probing questions of your brief and budget and of your underlying assumptions. We’ll analyse your property and/ or site in detail to reveal constraints and opportunities. Once these have been identified we can begin to prescribe solutions. This includes:
- Review relevant local design guides, planning policy and comparable planning applications in order to build up a picture of precedent.
- Carry out detailed analysis of the site and immediate environment to assess opportunities and constraints.
- Floor plans and sketches illustrating options.
- A 1 hour meeting in your home to discuss the project.
- A 2 hour workshop in our studio or via zoom (you choose).
- A written brief outlining the opportunities, risk, budget and project timeframe.
- Guidance on next steps, additional consultants and approvals required.
‘Project Planning’ / (RIBA Stages 0-3) (from £7,500 +VAT)
We’ll take you up to and including submission of a detailed planning application, including liaising with the local authority during the running of the application and up to it’s determination.
Building on the work and our conclusions from the Project Discovery we’ll develop proposals with you, communicating the evolving design clearly through 3D visuals and 2D drawings so that you’re empowered to make the best decisions. In working toward the application for planning approval, we’ll hold a series of fortnightly workshops with you (via zoom or in our studio) to review the design collaboratively and make decisions together, taking into account key aspects such as cost, program and risk in addition to functionality and aesthetic considerations.
This tier of service will suit those who want help in achieving the best possible outcome at planning but are happy to go it alone from there.
You always have the option of retaining us for the later stages of your project.
Full Service / (RIBA Stages 0-6)
Typically, our clients choose this service tier when they want our support from inception to the day they move in. We provide a full design service, alongside project management and an optional interior design service.
Good design takes time to mature. It doesn’t happen in a single eureka moment! Rather a series of steps, much like evolution, each one refining and improving on the last.
You’ll benefit from us on board as project managers throughout, contract administrators on site and maximum design time and thinking from our team.
This service is best suited to renovations, extensions or new builds where you want to invest time in the design to get it just right and create the perfect outcome borne out of obsessive attention given to every little detail. Just how we like it. Chat to us to discuss costs.
For all of our tiered services, take advantage of the complimentary free consultation to get a clear and simple fee guide for your project.
Do you have a minimum construction budget you will work with for a full service?
Due to the bespoke nature of our process, we typically work with homeowners with a minimum Project Budget of £250,00 at their disposal.
Project Planning(RIBA Stages 0-3)
Everything in the Project Discovery and:
+ Developed proposals through 3D visuals and 2D drawings.
+ Fornightly design development workshops in our studio or via Zoom (you choose).
+ Drawing pack and information for a planning application.
+ Submit and manage the planning application including liasing with the planners up to determination of the application.
Full Service(RIBA Stages 0-6)
- Typically, our clients choose this service tier when they want our support from inception to the day they move in.
- This service is best suited to homeowners that want to invest time in the design, retain full control over all of the details and get it just right. A life enhancing home you’ll never want to leave.
- We provide a full design service, alongside project management and an optional interior design service.
- Get in touch.
Why We Love Architecture In Kensington
Kensington had a humble beginning as a rural farming area. Today, it is the epitome of British heritage and history. Kensington is a true Victorian Citadel with outstanding structures hailing from the architectural era.
There are also magnificent examples of Georgian architecture and many Jacobean décor and designs scattered throughout the district.
Some of Kensington’s architecturally significant buildings include:
A true historical abode – Kensington Palace is a royal residence situated in Kensington Gardens. It has been a residence of the British royal family for over 300 years. The palace is originally a Jacobean mansion erected by Sir George Coppin in 1605. The palace we know today was largely built and designed by Sir Christopher Wren during the reign of King William III and Queen Mary II in the late seventeenth century. Wren mixed some Baroque styles with Jacobean characteristics, combining motifs from the late Perpendicular Gothic period with rounded Tudor arch details.
The palace has served as the childhood home of Queen Victoria, and in more recent times, the home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The Grade I listed building has seen improvements, notably when Queen Victoria commissioned the Italian Gardens and Albert Memorial.
You can read more about the story of Kensington Palace here.
Holland House was an early Jacobean house, situated in a country estate that is now Holland Park. The diplomat Sir Walter Cope commissioned the house in 1604 from the architect John Thorpe to preside over a 500 acres estate. Construction was completed in 1605 and was one of the first great houses built in Kensington. The Grade I listed building has been passed down through the Rich family, then became the property of the Fox family, during which time it became a noted gathering place for Whigs throughout the nineteenth century.
Royal Albert Hall
The Royal Albert Hall is a concert hall on the northern edge of South Kensington. Opened by Queen Victoria in 1871, the hall has become one of the world’s most distinguished musical venues. This stunning Grade I listed building was erected to fulfil part of Prince Albert’s vision of a cultural hub in the city – a place where visitors could access education in history, culture, music, art and the sciences.
The building is an ellipse in plan. It was designed by civil engineers Captain Francis Fowke and Major-General Henry Y. D. Scott of the Royal Engineers and built by Lucas Brothers. The Hall is constructed with red granite foundation stone. A great glass and wrought-iron dome roofs the Hall. It was originally designed with a capacity for 8,000 people and accommodated as many as 12,000.
The original designs draw heavily from the Italianate style, a distinctive nineteenth-century architectural phase inspired by the Italian Renaissance, but was further developed in Britain throughout the Regency and Victorian eras. The 800-foot-long terracotta mosaic frieze depicts the sixteen subjects: “The Triumph of Arts and Sciences’ ‘, in reference to the Hall’s dedication.
Natural History Museum
Established in 1881, the Natural History Museum is a scientific institution and is one of London’s most iconic landmarks. The museum holds over 80 million items within its main collections; including botany, entomology, mineralogy, palaeontology and zoology. After the sudden death of the originally appointed architect Francis Fowke, Alfred Waterhouse took over and came up with a new design that would align with founder Sir Richard Owen’s vision of constructing a “cathedral to nature”. With development beginning in 1873, the result gave a striking mixture of twelfth-century Romanesque, Victorian and Gothic Revival architecture. Waterhouse used terracotta for the entire building as this material was more resistant to Victorian London’s harsh climate.
All Saints’ Church, Notting Hill
All Saints’ Church is a Victorian Anglican Church of England. The building of the parish church was carried out to the designs of Gothic Revival pioneer William White (alongside Sir George Gilbert Scott) between 1852-55, using Gothic Revival stone with polychromatic decoration. The Grade II listed building was to be a centrepiece of the development now known as Colville and Powis Squares.
During the 1940 London Blitz, the church, parish hall and vicarage suffered terrible damage by enemy firebombing. Restoration works were completed in 1951.
Victoria & Albert Museum
Often abbreviated as the V&A, this is the world’s largest museum of applied and decorative art and design. The renowned museum houses 2.27 million objects; the greatest resources for study in architecture, fashion, photography, sculpture, literature and ceramics, etc – spanning over 5000 years of human creativity.
It was founded in 1852 and named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, in association with “Albertopolis” and its other major cultural institutions.
The architectural fashions of the museum have a complex background. Since its inception, each addition by different architects was intended to represent a chapter of the V&A and the best of contemporary architecture throughout its history. This philosophy is why we see such a varied stock of architecture today.
Read more about the architectural wonders of the V&A here.
Since 2004, the V&A has held a national collection covering the history of architecture – from models, original drawings, sketchbooks, photographs and historic rooms by major British and international architects from the fifteenth century to the present day.
“We have been more than happy at each step of the process, with Dan being able to articulate our intentions into the most beautiful design. Thus elevating our original thoughts and expectations”
- Kharmel Cochrane
“Dan achieved the right balance, always on hand, resolving any issues constructively, ensuring the experience was efficient and enjoyable on a challenging project”
- Neil Prosser
“While the construction phase was bumpy at times, MATA remained professional throughout and a genuine ally. We now have a beautiful and highly functional, if rather unconventional, first-floor extension”
- Marc Franks
“The planning permission stage could not have been smoother: it was approved on first review without a single revision to the ambitious design – a testament to the thorough preparation and thought that MATA put into the application.”
- Katherine & Shaun
Let's Create Your Home's Next Chapter
Wondering what comes next?
Fill in the form below with your project details and we'll respond in 1-2 days.