Kensington and Chelsea Council has revealed one of the worst cases of fly-tipping ever encountered in the royal borough - calling the mess in the underground "shanty town" where rough sleepers were found living an "absolute disgrace".
Around 700 tonnes of rubbish, along with at least five rough sleepers, were uncovered in the basement of a Tesco supermarket co-owned by housing association Notting Hill Genesis.
Council enforcement officers who encountered the mess for the first time last September described it as a "shanty town" with at least five people living among the broken glass, excrement, needles, and hundreds of empty alcohol bottles.
The council said it took a month and 35 loads of ‘Grab Lorry’ efforts to move the illegally dumped waste off-site from the West Cromwell Road Tesco's basement, which images show had become strewn with waste and graffiti.
By comparison, 300 tonnes of waste cleared on average at the Notting Hill Carnival each year, which attracts around a million people over the party weekend.
The site was first discovered in September 2017 and described by council enforcement staff as a "hive" of antisocial behaviour and one of the most dangerous sites they had ever visited.
They had no phone or radio reception in the basement when they came across the mess and its inhabitants.
The supermarket giant and Notting Hill Genesis paid for the waste to be removed. However, when asked how the site got to be in that state on their property, neither offered any explanation.
A Tesco spokesperson said: “We worked together with Kensington and Chelsea Council and our landlord to help clear this area and improve the local environment for residents and our customers."
Notting Hill Genesis' spokesperson said the housing association did not have anything to add.
"I don’t think we have anything to really add to this, so will leave it. Many thanks for offering us the chance to respond."
A gate with a lock had been fitted to ensure the site did not return to its previous state, the council said this week.
Outreach workers had since referred drug users and rough sleepers on the site, who had congregated in what the council said was "Kensington’s worst ever fly tipping spot" to help services, the council added.
Kensington and Chelsea lead member for streets, planning and transport Cllr Will Pascall, said he was blown away by the scale of the mess.
“Fly tipping is unsightly and unacceptable environmental vandalism. It’s an absolute disgrace that it goes on here in our borough – or anywhere else in London.
"I was shocked by the scale of the fly tipping when I saw these images and I’m pleased that our enforcement team has ensured the area has been returned to normality."
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