Key Fob Handover Day (Weds 23 Nov)

Key fobs for the Garden’s new entry system will be replaced on the 23rd of November:

  • When: Wednesday 23rd November from 1-6pm

  • Where:West Entrance Lobby of Chelwood House

  • What must i bring: Your old fob or £50 deposit for a new Fob  +  Proof of Residence in Gloucester Square  +  Photographic Identification

If you are unable to attend on Wednesday, please contact Westbourne Management (via the contact form) to arrange a suitable time to collect from their office on Spring Street (W2).

This page is intended to provide background on the matter of the Garden’s Access Control, and elucidate the need-for for the replacement system.

We would like to take this opportunity to remind resident ratepayers that key fobs are for the exclusive use of ratepayers and their accompanied guests. Key fobs should never be leant to third parties to use the Garden unaccompanied.

A Brief Background

As part of the 2019 Railings Replacement Programme, new power cables were run to either gate location, allowing for the installation of a fob entry system, that was duly installed. This system replaced a traditional entry key with a Eurocylinder in the gate.

In May of 2022, the incoming committee commenced a review of the Gate Entry system in light of concerns that fobs could be easily cloned, the gate was being regularly propped open, and the tracking of fobs was too difficult. The review concluded the new system was inadequate (further details provided below) and the committee began liasing with several different companies with a view to finding an improved replacement system for minimal cost.

The New IP Door Entry System is Ideal for Garden Squares

Following a thorough tender process this Summer, the Garden Committee has instructed Anchor Door Systems to install an IP Door Entry system in the Garden. Whilst we understand this will be the first time IP Door Entry’s technology has been deployed at a Garden Square, it is already used by some of the largest Managing Agents and Estates in the UK, and appears to be uniquely suited to challenges posed to Garden Squares. The system has been subsequently reviewed by our inbound managing agents, who are all too familiar of the issues arround access management and fob cloning, who are suitably impressed by IP Door Entry and looking forward to seeing the system deployed.

Specifically, the new system will provide:

Improved Security

The fobs on the new system will be, genuinely, next to impossible to clone without detection.

If a fob is lost it can be deactivated remotely, and any attempt to subsequently use that fob can be traced back to footage from the recently installed CCTV system.

Improved Enforcement

The new system will alert the Garden Committee if a gate is forced or left open, allowing us to respond quickly.
In addition, the system will log which household is using the gates when, allowing us to reach out to specific ratepayers after reports of bad behaviour or damage in the Garden.

Improved Accessibility

The system will allow members of the committee and the appointed Managing Agent to open the gate remotely if required.

For example if a resident requires access to check for a lost key, or a contractor requires access to conduct works, we can open the gate remotely without having to attend site.

Issues with the Current System

Cloning Fobs is Far Too Easy

The basic technology behind entry fobs, i.e. presenting a code to a reader, means that cloning entry fobs is a relatively cheap and easy process. The fob system currently installed at Gloucester Square offers little protection in this regard, with local locksmiths able to clone the fobs with a device smaller than your average car key.

That is not to say cloning of fobs can’t be detected / prevented in more advanced systems. The most common method is maintaining an access audit log on both the fob and the entry system, this way the fob maintains an audit log of when it was used, that must reconcile with the record on the entry reader. If a fob is cloned, and both fobs are used therafter, the access log of the two fobs (the original fob, and cloned fob) will no longer match the central system, and both will be blocked.

Unfortunately in multi-entry-point environments, like Gloucester Square with its two gates, such a system has historically required the gates to be networked to a central computer that can maintain an audit log of all gates. This challenge is amplified for Garden Squares, most of which are covered by area Tree Protection Orders, making the running of new data-cables prohibitively expensive (owing to the need for arboricultural assessments, etc).

Fortunately technology in this area is rapidly improving, and the Committee have found a company capable of delivering a much more secure system, without needing to run new cables.

The Incentive to Clone Fobs is Clear

The Garden Committee considers the cloning of fobs to be one of the greatest risks to fairness, security and economic viability of the Garden.

We have heard multiple stories of non-qualifying ratepayers being offered cloned fobs/keys to Gardens/Estates for a one-off fee. Indeed many Gardens and Estates replace fobs on a regular basis in order to combat cloning (though we consider that wasted expense). The incentive to clone fobs is clear, a bad actor can clone a fob (for as little as £15), and give fobs to friends, or even sell them for a significant mark-up.

Whilst access to the Gloucester Square is exclusive to Residents, nearby gardens have set the precedent of charging tens to hundreds of thousands of pounds in order to extend access to new properties (typically whilst replacing an existing ratepayer that is delinquent and having their access terminated). So it is easy to see the value someone might place on a cloned key fob.

Enforcing the Garden Rules is Unneccessarily Difficult

Unfortunately there have been numerous reports (mostly valid) of improper use of the Garden since the Committee took over in May. These reports have included anti-social use of the Garden late at night, unapproved events, and damage to the furniture in the Garden.

In addition, there have been monthly+ incidents of users of the Garden propping the gate open (including one of the unapproved events, and workmen for at least one Direct Access House). The gate remaining closed and locked is a core part of the security the Garden, its users, and the neighbouring houses.

Whilst the 11-strong committee have fairly good representation among our 116 ratepaying households, it is still unneccessarily challenging to investigate these incidents, including the parties responsible, any potential witnesses, and validity of the report.

The new system will allow us to see which household opened which gate at which time, allowing us to follow-up with all users of the Garden during the time an incident has been reported. Whilst the system will of course not track the use of the Garden from the Direct Access Houses, the Garden committee has positioned cameras at either end of the Garden to assist with any investigations (NB: None of the cameras are positioned so to capture private property, the main lawn, or the playground).

The Electrical System Requires Improving (for the Security of Garden Users and Direct Access Houses)

With the current Energy Crisis and potential for power blackouts this winter, the Committee are accutely aware of the need to run the Garden’s security circuit on an Uniteruptable Power Supply. The existing system had the option for backup batteries, but they were never fitted.

Unfortunately, as with most magnetic door locks, a power cut would result in the gates unlocking and anyone being able to enter the Garden. The current wiring setup of the gates is on a multipurpose circuit including sockets used by the gardeners and the events, heightening the chance the relevant RCD will trip and cut power to the gates causing them to open.

The solution decided by the committee is to move all security relevant items onto a dedicated circuit, with an uninteruptable power supply (i.e. backup batteries), that will be able to keep the gates locked for several hours in the event of a power cut.

Futher FAQs

Will this System Lead to Entry Restrictions (e.g. Closed at Night)?

Categorically No. The committee has no intention, and arguably no authority, to prevent contract-abiding ratepayers from using the Garden any time they choose, providing they do so in a manner that is coherent with the quiet enjoyment terms of the Estate Management Scheme / individual Leases, whilst abiding by the rules set by the Committee.

Beyond contractual covenants, the nature of the Square (13 properties with direct/unfettered access), means that an blanket restriction of use of the garden via gates would be highly prejudicial. 

Why Make this Change Now?

The current, unsatisfactory, entry system and its fobs are only 4 years old and still have a modest salvage value that the committee intends to attempt to recover in 2023, after giving the new system a 6 month grace window to prove it can operate faultlessly.

The problem of unauthorised access, antisocial behaviour, and security breaches like the Gate being left open have persisted throughout the summer despite the Committee and Gardeners immediately responding to the majority of incidents.

Will we Have to Pay for the Replaement Fobs?

We do not anticipate charging residents to replace their existing key fob, with an upgraded fob for the new system. This will be on the condition of residents returning their existing fob.

If residents do not return their existing fob, the standard £50 Fob Fee/Deposit will apply.

How Much is the Replacement System Cost?

The cost of these works will be absorbed in the 2022 budget / reserves, there is no intention to raise additional demands. The policy of the committee is not to publish costs online, primarily to protect contractor relationships.

The committee are satisfied the cost for this system is highly competitive, and excelent value for money given the features on offer and issues-at-play.

The price of the Garden’s security enhancements will be revealed to ratepayers in the forecast year-end accounts that will be shared in conjunction with the 2023 demands, due to go out in January.

Is the Existing Setup Wasted?

Far from it. The committee have been careful to select the new supplier on the basis of being able to install new entry readers / fobs without needing to run network cables or install new posts, thereby incurring minimal costs and avoiding disruption to the garden.

The only items that will be scrapped (sold on as second hand) are the entry readers, the controllers, and the fobs. All other components will be reused.


  1. Peter Shasha
    October 12, 2022

    Whilst I applaud the initiative to increase security for the gardens, how much evidence do the committee actually have of cloned fobs and unauthorised use? Is the evidence so compelling to spend what might be a considerable amount to replace a newly installed system?
    How much will this replacement system cost – I note that you have said that it will not increase the garden rates, but you have not said how much it will actually cost the ratepayers (existing / reserve funds).

    Also, who will be in charge of the CCTV footage and how does the CCTV work – does it send a signal to the administrator each time someone walks in its path and if so, is this not a breach of privacy?

    • Garden Committee
      October 12, 2022

      Hi Peter,

      Thank you for taking the time to engage with the website and provide feedback. I will try and answer the various points in order.

      We have several records of unauthorised use/access this summer alone (that we have been able to evidence through the cameras / speaking to people in the Garden), and countless incidents of the gates being left propped open (a security concern for Garden users and the bordering houses).

      I’m sure you appreciate it would be easier to track fob cloning and unauthorised entry, if the existing system tracked fob usage, though it does not. The committee has therefore been solely reliant on responding immediately to queries regarding unrecognised residents in the garden and speaking to the culprits, rather than having any central records to refer to.

      The proven unauthorised access we have recorded, is in addition to numerous behavioural issues, including your own report of an overnight disturbance in June (that we could not trace, as the cameras were not in-place at the time, the existing fob system does not record fob-usage, and we were only informed of the disturbance the morning-after the event).

      Clearly this is a suboptimal situation, residents should be free to use the garden without being challenged regarding their right to be there, and the committee shouldn’t be required to challenge unrecognised people using the garden (especially at night). Worse still, non-committee-members have, this summer, taken it upon themselves to challenge other residents regarding their right to be in the garden during the day. This is unacceptable behaviour, though the committee believes the first step should be solving the demonstrable flaws in the current access control system, to give all ratepayers assurance the garden is adequately protected.

      What is not covered in the page above – is that the committee also have evidence the fob-issuance-log they inherited in May was inaccurate (i.e. properties marked as not having a fob, had one or more fobs, whilst other properties marked as having a fob, claimed to have never received one). So even had the committee not chosen now as the opportune moment to replace the system, they still would have had to go through an expensive fob-reissuance process (as regularly occurs elsewhere on the Hyde Park Estate).

      The point on the cost of the replacement system is clearly covered above – we do not publish that information online (including in comments) though it will be conveyed to ratepayers at year-end. I can nevertheless reveal that as part of the tender-process, the committee did ask the existing supplier to quote for upgrading the system in order to supply some of the features provided by IP Door Entry, and the quote received was circa four times higher than the cost of the selected replacement system.

      The committee are confident that residents will be comfortable with the expenditure (both in isolation, and in comparison to other costs).

      I should note that whilst the new committee is endeavouring to be more transparent regarding all works with ratepayers, that does not obligate the committee to consult ratepayers with every decision in advance – the committee governs with the instruction and authority of the occupiers, in a manner the Committee considers best. I am sure I speak for all Committee Members in saying we are happy to explain our actions to ratepayers at year end; and the election process allows occupiers to act / present an alternative vision, if they are unhappy with decisions we make.

      The cameras cover the Garden and Railings Borders alone, and remain in the purview of the Committee and our appointed agent. They are designed to protect the Security of the freehold property where the Garden Committee act with the powers of the Landlord, and are used in accordance with ICO guidelines. The record retention is rolling (i.e. latest recordings overwrite the old recordings), typically expiring after circa 2 months dependent on the (set of) camera(s).

      Ratepayers have the committee’s assurance that the placement of all cameras has been considered in advance, and as noted in the page above, areas of the garden the residents would use/enjoy – i.e. the lawn, seating areas and the playground are not captured by the cameras.

      A separate point has been raised about other cameras installed on private property over the last few years, pointing into the Garden, outside of the Garden’s control, covering the aforementioned “enjoyment areas” and potentially in contravention of ICO policy. This matter is being reviewed by the new committee.

      I hope you understand that further specifics regarding system will not be published online (owing to Security Policy).

      Best Regards,

      Tom (Garden Secretary)

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