A MAJOR new development planned for Kensington High Street will attract an extra 400,000 visitors a year if it is given the go-ahead.
The high-profile former Commonwealth Institute is being eyed by developers claiming to bring an extra £2million a year to the area.
Since 2001 the prime location has been virtually empty. Two years ago it attracted squatters to the famous road.
Now an ambitious scheme to turn the 1960s centre into a new museum and a luxury housing complex has been submitted to Kensington and Chelsea Council by Chelsfield Partners and the Ilchester Estate. It goes out to public consultation tomorrow (Friday).
The scheme intends to open up and strengthen the existing tent-like building to create a 100,000 sq ft exhibition area called The Parabola.
The company is in 'advanced stages' of negotiations to allow the Design Museum, in Southwark, to move to the main building.
The developers, who have refused to reveal the cost of the project, say this would bring £2million to the area each year.
If approved, a new public piazza - without flagpoles - would face Kensington High Street.
Three private buildings, ranging from six to nine floors high, could also be built on the site. They would contain 72 homes, a swimming pool, cinema, fitness centre and spa.
No affordable housing is planned for the scheme, as the company is using funds to bring D1 museum space to the borough.
It has yet to be seen what the community's reaction to the design will be, but so far there has been a mixed opinion from leading interest groups.
The planning application admits that the 20th Century Society remains 'far from convinced' that the plans will provide a 'heritage gain' for the area.
And although the Royal Borough's Architectural Advisory Panel has welcomed the idea of the Design Museum coming to Kensington, it had concerns about the scale of the modern cubic residential buildings.
But a spokeswoman for Chelsfield Partners and the Ilchester Estate said: "The building's refurbishment and new use will give a neglected London icon a new life and purpose and will invigorate this part of Kensington High Street."
A public consultation runs until May 22 and the council has set a target for July 17 to decide whether to grant the application planning permission.
To view the proposal visit www.rbkc.gov.uk planning application number PP /09/00839.