Former rough sleeper Ed Sheeran to install 'anti-homeless' railings outside home

Maya Oppenheim

Ed Sheeran has won planning permission to build “anti-homeless” railings outside his £8m London home.

The pop star, who slept rough in London during the beginning of his career, has been given the green light to install pedestrian gates and cast iron railings outside his home in Kensington and Chelsea despite the original plan being rejected.

According to his planning agent, the gates and railings will “prevent opportunities for rough sleeping”.

The proposal – approved by Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council earlier this month – will also see a key fob system set into a Portland stone plinth outside Sheeran’s four-storey home which is a former Victorian brickworks.

The plan was originally rebuffed as the four-foot-high railings were considered to look "too domestic” for the former industrial area.

However, it was given approval after being changed so it was more in line with the affluent neighbourhood, which is in a conservation area.

"The combination of Portland stone plinth and the railings will help to deter rough sleeping, avoid the collection of rubbish blown onto the concrete surfaced area and provide the applicant with a desirable level of security without requiring compromises to the internal plan-form of the building,” Paul Smith of Apex Planning Consultants said in the initial application in January last year.

"We consider the proposals would represent an additional phase in the extensive development and evolution of the building, providing improved security for the occupants, helping mitigate the existing poor surface treatment and preventing opportunities for rough sleeping."

The proposal was amended twice after planning officers voiced concerns the railings would not match the character of the Victorian brickworks.

A planning spokesperson said: “The decisive issue is whether the revised proposal would preserve the character and appearance of the conservation area and the appearance of the individual building.

“The revised proposal is for railings which echo the design of historic factory entrances and would maintain the distinct industrial character of the individual building.”

Sheeran addressed his short stint of sleeping rough in his 2014 book A Visual Journey, saying: “There was an arch outside Buckingham Palace that has a heating duct and I spent a couple of nights there. That’s where I wrote the song ‘Homeless.’”

He later clarified the comments, saying: “Everyone’s saying Ed Sheeran was homeless – I never said that in the book. I went without a bed for some nights, that’s it. It’s just that I didn’t have a place to stay [those nights], so I slept on the Central Line and outside Buckingham Palace.”

Sheeran – who has sold more than 26 million albums and 100 million singles worldwide – hit out after details of the planning application were first reported in April.

He denied the reports and referred to work he has done with homeless charities Shelter and Crisis.

“Dear Natalie Edwards from TheSun newspaper. Your story is b******s, I have done lots of work in the past for Crisis and Shelter and would never build railings outside my home for that reason,” he wrote on Instagram.

“The reason was to keep the paps that you employ from being on my doorstep. Have a good day.”

Sheeran’s breakthrough song "The A-Team" was based on his experience of volunteering at Crisis at Christmas. The singer songwriter backed Crisis’ No One Turned Away campaign demanding every homeless person who approaches their council to get the help they require.

According to housing publication 24Housing, one in seven families in Kensington and Chelsea – approximately 1,441 people – are homeless.

Last month figures revealed a homeless person dies every two weeks in London – sparking urgent calls for the government to conduct a review into rough sleeper deaths and improve mental health support.

A survey of outreach services by charity St Mungo’s revealed 158 rough sleepers died in the capital between 2010 and 2017.

The number of people sleeping rough in England hit a record high earlier this year – after a 73 per cent increase over the last three years.

A representative for Sheeran did not immediately respond to The Independent’s request for comment.

A Kensington and Chelsea Council spokesperson said: “We understand these railings are necessary for the security of the property. They meet the necessary planning requirements.”