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How Cadogan plans to keep Chelsea green and flourishing

Hugh Seaborn

Hugh Seaborn explains the sustainability and community priorities of one of the largest and wealthiest estates in London

Restaurant pavilion on Duke of York Square, designed by Nex, 2019.
Restaurant pavilion on Duke of York Square, designed by Nex, 2019. Credit: Reproduced by permission of Cadogan Estates Ltd

Where do you see the most change to your estate?

Our holistic approach to estate management, coupled with long-term stewardship, has seen Chelsea continue to evolve as a thriving and sustainable neighbourhood. There is a symbiotic relationship between Cadogan and Chelsea’s lively community, which lies at the heart of our strategy, influencing our investments and initiatives.

Our long-term stewardship ensures that the area’s residential, retail, hospitality, leisure and cultural uses strengthen Chelsea’s enduring appeal. We have just completed The Gaumont, which aims to reinvigorate the King’s Road’s distinct character and contribute to its rich legacy, while seeing it enter a new era. Following a local consultation, a cluster of small spaces will offer a home to independent creatives, alongside a cinema and major new public art commission – all behind its beautifully restored art deco facade. The scheme is a major part of a wider revitalisation we have planned for one of the world’s most famous high streets.

The creative cluster will strengthen and encourage the King’s Road’s position at the centre of London’s art, fashion and music scene. Our last consultation led to the creation of Pavilion Road, a pedestrian street which now buzzes all day as a meeting place with foodie artisans including a butcher, baker and cheesemonger, so I am looking forward to seeing a similar impact from this latest project.

This year will also see the completion of a £46 million investment in the Sloane Street public realm, transforming it into a beautiful green boulevard running from Knightsbridge to Sloane Square and helping London to compete more strongly on an international stage as the best destination for luxury shopping.

The common thread linking these developments is a commitment to heritage restoration and preservation, while working with the best contemporary designers and techniques as we look to the future. From the painstaking work on The Gaumont façade to the heritage details on the arts and crafts inspired lampposts on the regenerated Sloane Street, artisan craftmanship and design are fundamental to our ambitious existing and future developments. 

Community-led schemes, delivered by world-class architects and construction teams, are the foundations of Chelsea’s evolution and growth.

  • Design for two terraced houses in a ‘Dutch’ style, Cadogan Square, by Ernest George & Peto, 1879.
    Design for two terraced houses in a ‘Dutch’ style, Cadogan Square, by Ernest George & Peto, 1879. Credit: RIBA Collections
  • Pavilion Road, 2021.
    Pavilion Road, 2021. Credit: Reproduced by permission of Cadogan Estates Ltd

What are your development priorities in the next 10 years?

We operate with a very long-term approach and over the next decade we will continue to invest  significantly in the local area through development, refurbishment and placemaking.

Our developments are focused on creating desirable spaces for people – social, cultural and commercial. We have an exciting pipeline of projects, each of which clearly reflects our priorities and strategy to ensure the sustainability and success of the neighbourhood.

We have more than doubled the estate’s food and drink offer over the last five years, with notable new openings this year including our fifth hotel, At Sloane – a collaboration with celebrated Parisian hotelier Jean-Louis Costes and a truly beautiful and unusual property which reflects so much of the exquisite architecture and rich artistic heritage here.

We also have a a community fund which contributes over £4 million annually towards positive social impact.

How important is sustainability to the Cadogan Estate and what are your key measures?

Sustainability will remain at the core of our priorities in the coming years with the implementation of our net zero pathway in the design, development and management of buildings to enhance the health of the environment and improve the quality of life for occupiers and local communities.

Chelsea 2030 is our commitment to integrating sustainability in every aspect of the business, setting out ambitious environmental and social targets. Over the last year, we have reported a 10% carbon saving, launched our £90 million decarbonisation programme and 12.3% increase in Urban Greening Factor. We will look to deploy the decarbonisation programme that we set up to stay ahead of minimum energy efficiency standards, along with other measures centred on collaboration and partnership.

From low-carbon retrofitting and refurbishment, making improvements to how we reduce, recycle and reuse materials across the Estate, sustainable drainage systems and drought tolerant planting, e-cargo bike schemes and urban greening, there are a plethora of measures we have introduced to achieve our five key targets focused on carbon emissions, water use, waste reduction, air quality and green infrastructure.

How much of the decarbonisation programme will involve retrofitting?

Retrofitting buildings will be at the core of this effort for us. And that can be a challenge, especially in an area such as Chelsea with historic properties, conservation areas and listed buildings. We have factored all these parameters into our net zero pathway, and there will undoubtedly be a lot to learn as we progress this. We have an extensive programme in place to survey all assets and programme in relevant works, including replacing windows, installing insulation and shifting to low carbon heating.  

We were delighted to announce just last year that, since our 2019 baseline, we have achieved a carbon saving of 10%, but we have a lot of work ahead of us.

How do architects demonstrate that they understand the character of the area? 

At Cadogan we not only partner with world class architects but, importantly, we look to work with those who understand the local character and historical and architectural significance of the buildings they are dealing with. Chelsea must continue to evolve as one of London’s most lively, desirable neighbourhoods and we select partners who understand this.

Hugh Seaborn CVO is CEO of Cadogan 

Great Estates: Models for modern placemaking is a publication by NLA - London’s built environment community with texts by Sarah Yates and a foreword by Peter Murray OBE, co-founder of NLA


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