Planning News – October 2019

There has been a lot happening over the last several months with regard to Planning Applications. The reality of our current planning system is that it is skewed against those who object to a development, as it is based around a “presumption in favour of development”. As a result (as you see below) we do not always win the argument; but by objecting, and being seen to object we are able to exert influence to improve the proposals even if they are ultimately approved.

Tesco / Homebase development

This is the major proposed development in our area as it is both the biggest (by far) in the last few years and the one that will have the greatest impact on our area. We have reported on this in multiple eNewsletters and via articles on our website.

The developer is St. Edward, a joint venture between Berkeley Homes and the Prudential. Their proposal is for

  • Homebase site. Demolition of the existing Homebase building, to replace it with a building covering the whole of the site. This will include a new Tesco store (ground floor), car parking for 450 cars (1st and 2nd floor) and a complex of tower blocks of varying heights up to 16 storeys high in total for 550 flats
  • Tesco site. Demolition of the existing store and replacement with a complex of tower blocks of up to 16 storeys in height for up to 1,650 flats, plus a “new public park”.

We have had multiple meetings with the developer and they have held a Public Exhibition of their proposals and have opened a consultation centre outside the Tesco store to listen to feedback from local residents. In addition they have launched consultation webpages and Facebook sites.

We are working with the developer to try and arrive at a proposal that the residents of Osterley will view as a valued asset in the area which respects the special character of our area.  We recognise that the pressure on housing requires that these sites be developed to provide new housing, but hope that this can be done in such a way as to add to Osterley rather than dominate it.

We strongly encourage local residents to make their views known to the develop via the means explained above.

Adini Office development

It has now transpired that an appeal against LB Hounslow’s refusal of this application was submitted within the required timeframe. However we were not notified of this because the Planning Inspectorate was waiting to allocate an Inspector with the requisite set of experience. They have now commenced this appeal, and OWGRA have submitted our objections to this appeal. We wait with interest to hear the results of this appeal.

Osterley Station Car Park development

There has been quite a bit of progress on this proposed development. Following their previously reported public exhibition of their initial proposal (for a complex of flats up to 10 storeys high), the developer came back with a revised set of proposals. These were a noticeable improvement, with the maximum height reduced to 6 storeys and the development much more sympathetic to the Grade II-listed Osterley Station next door, in style, height and overall design. However we still had a number of concerns which we explained to the developer including the impact on nearby roads and the quality of life for the proposed residents with balconies right on the edge of the Great West Road.

We explained all of these to the developer. They stated that they would take note of our feedback and that they were planning to submit a Planning Application in August. To date none has been submitted and we wait to hear the next step on the proposal.

Osterley Hotel Shisha lounge

This hotel has been under new management for some months now and we have been impressed with how they have been doing it. The complex is now being run effectively as an integrated hotel / restaurant / bar / catering / banqueting suite operation. The new management have agreed that a Shisha Lounge does not fit comfortably within such an operation, and as a result have withdrawn this application and advised us they will not be progressing any further with it.

As you may recall, the impact of the proposals would have been to convert the existing conservatory from a multi-function, flexible and comfortable space into an open (on 3 sides), draughty (Shisha) smoking area. The withdrawal of these proposals preserves this local asset, with this area now operating as a new Indian restaurant.

Brentford Football Club Training Ground (Jersey Road)

Following on from our previous update on this, we submitted our response to the Planning Application, in which we supported it but asked for a number of conditions to be attached to the approval. The developer made some detail changes to the application, none of which affected our previous support for the application, and resubmitted it to the council. The Planners recommended approval of it, and supported effectively all of our requested conditions as part of the approval.

As a result we did not comment further, and the application was approved by the council recently.

Shisha lounge on Spur Road Isleworth

A retail unit on Spur Road, right next to the Green School, recently opened up as a Shisha Lounge, consisting of an internal café area (the original layout of the premises) and an external open seating area on the pavement for shisha smoking. It transpired that this did not have planning permission and the council instigated enforcement action. A retrospective planning application was then submitted. We objected to this because on the basis that is an inappropriate location for such an operation, being so close to the school and the application was refused.

The applicant then appealed and the appeal decision was a split decision. The part of the appeal relating to the use of the internal area of the premises as a café was upheld. However that relating to the addition of the external area (used as a Shisha smoking area) was refused, with the inspector agreeing that the external area should not be granted planning permission.

Mobile Phone transmitter aerials

We have objected to a proposal for yet more masts on the Great West Road next to Jersey Gardens. Our concerns regarding these related to

  • The proposed masts being far taller than current ones (as high as 17.5 m) and as such will be far more visually obtrusive than current ones
  • The introduction of a sizable number of additional cabinets onto the street area, reducing the space for pedestrians and obstructing the view, resulting in a safety hazard.

The application was refused by LBH.

Redevelopments of family homes into multiple flats

We have objected to a number of these. There is a real shortage of family homes in the borough, yet developers are trying to convert these into what are, in most cases, a set of minimum-size flats / bedsits which will then be rented out. Thankfully, LBH agree in most cases with us, and have rejected a number of these applications. In addition they have taken enforcement action where developers try and get round this by going ahead with the redevelopment without seeking planning permission.

Dudley House Planning Condition removal

When this development of this building into a number of flats was approved, the council attached a number of planning conditions to the approval which were accepted by the developer. One of these forbade any resident of the flats from applying for a parking permit in the surrounding CPZ (a limited number of parking spaces were provided on site).

Once the development had been completed the developer asked for this condition to be removed. We objected on the basis that planning conditions are an integral part of planning approval, and are the way that groups such as ourselves can ensure that a development remains acceptable. Allowing the retrospective removal of them did, in our view, undermine this whole premise. Unfortunately the council did not agree and accepted the request.

172-174 Wood Lane

This was a very large family house on a road consisting of family houses. A developer proposed to demolish this and build a block of flats. We (and neighbours) objected with the result that a revised application was submitted. Whilst this was a little better, the substance of all our objections remained unchanged and we objected and spoke against it at the planning committee. Despite being able to convince almost half the planning committee, the proposal was (just !) approved.

OWGRA Community Litter Pick 10.08.2019

Eleven volunteers braved the blustery conditions for an OWGRA Community Litter Pick along Windmill Lane. We had cleared this area 5 months ago, yet we managed to fill another 25 bags! As usual we found some vehicle registration plates and a set of keys.
Many thanks to the Hare & Hounds which kindly provided much deserved refreshments afterwards. Thanks to our volunteers for another good morning’s work.

 

NATIONAL PLANNING AWARDS 2019

We recently found out, by accident (from an article in a recent edition in the Chiswick Herald spotted by an eagle-eyed OWGRA Committee member), that LBH is ‘shortlisted for a prestigious Planning Award’ (sic) for the Nishkam/Bolder/Grasshoppers scheme – see https://www.hounslow.gov.uk/news/article/745/hounslow_council_shortlisted_in_prestigious_planning_awards.  Interestingly, we were not informed of this by the Council.

You can watch the short film which was produced to support this application by clicking on the video link on this page

https://chiswickherald.co.uk/hounslow-council-shortlisted-in-prestigious-planning-awards-p9801-251.htm

One of the comments made in this film is “With the sensitivity of the sites it was important that the process was really collaborative… that there was adequate consultation, and extensive consultation with local community groups.” Anyone who was involved with the KOG (Keep Osterley Green) campaign at the time will know that this really was very far from the truth!

We took the opportunity of putting the questions below to IBAF (Isleworth & Brentford Area Forum)  last Thursday evening (https://democraticservices.hounslow.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=576&MId=10300&Ver=4):
“a. Given that this scheme was pushed forward in the face of huge opposition from local people (who were only informed of the Nishkam School a few weeks before the planning application was submitted, while the planning for the school had gone on for years in secret before it was made public), that very substantial amounts of public money had to be spent forcing this through against the views of local people and relocating a sports club from fit-for-purpose facilities to world-class facilities, and that many of the objections raised by local people to show that this scheme was fundamentally flawed have proved to be true, how can the Council argue that this is an example of good planning?
b. How can the Council congratulate itself on a planning award which so clearly ignored the Council’s own Statement of Community Involvement? That statement and every level of planning guidance recommends that local people should be involved in the FORMATIVE stage of planning and design. In the case of Nishkam local residents only saw the plans when everything had been finalised. Is this really a process about which the Council should be congratulated?

c. Who nominated the Council for this award or did LBH submit their own application for this award?
d. Who should we contact to request to see the information that was submitted in support of the application for this award?
e. How much is the entry fee for this award and who has paid it?
f. What other costs were involved in the application for this award (eg the making of the supporting film)?
g. How many LBH staff will be going to the award ceremony on 4 June and what will the cost of that be?
h. Would the Council accept this award (if they won) considering that the Bolder part of this scheme has now stalled?”
In his response at the IBAF meeting the Council Leader rejected the idea that there had not been adequate consultation over the Nishkam planning proposal.  We can only assume that this means that he does not believe in the Council’s own policy as stated in its Statement of Community Involvement which carries a statement by him praising the document. Paragraph 6.7 says that the Council will “Encourage applicants of larger schemes to submit to the council (as part of the planning application) a participation statement of early engagement setting out how the requirements of the SCI have been satisfied, the representations received and how these have been considered and reflected in the application as submitted”
There was no such “early engagement”.  Residents were invited to an exhibition for the development only a few weeks before the application was made at which point it was clear that all the plans for the school had been fully drawn up ready for submission.  The exhibition was therefore a token consultation only and certainly not part of a process of “early engagement” given that the Council had been in discussion about the proposed school for years before the application went in.  At the IBAF meeting we therefore said that it was impossible to see how a development which ignored the Council’s own policy on early consultation could reasonably be considered for an award for planning excellence unless that policy is simply not regarded as important.

Planning news for May 2019

Development News – May 2019
Adini Flats

The appeal by Adini on the refused planning application for the block of flats has been upheld, which means the block of flats can go ahead, but with certain conditions (e.g. the applicant/developer would have to pay a £400,000 contribution for affordable housing elsewhere as there was no provision for affordable housing in the proposed block).   You can read the report by going to https://acp.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/myportal/default.aspx and inputting the reference 3217838.

[Just a reminder that Adini only lodged an appeal against the decision to refuse planning application for the block of flats, they did not appeal the decision against the refusal to grant planning permission for the office/warehouse development.]

The Planning Inspector was not convinced by the Council’s arguments, and although we/OWGRA submitted robust arguments for the appeal to be dismissed, it is the Council’s representation which the Inspector would take most notice of.

What happens now?  Will the 15 flats actually be built?  The applicant stated that the profit from selling the land to build the flats would fund the Adini office/warehouse redevelopment.  But Adini did not appeal the refusal for the office/warehouse development within the permitted 6 months, so they are out of time to appeal now.  We now wait to see what Adini will do next and whether they will submit a second application for the commercial development.

Access Storage development at Gillette Corner
The Access Storage development at Gillette Corner was approved by the Planning Committee at the meeting on Thursday 2 May.  Many of our comments on this application were addressed by the applicant to mitigate the impact of this development on the surrounding area and allow it to fit in as much as possible. In addition the applicant has made some additional concessions:
– the premises would not operate 24/7, but Mon-Sat 7.00-23.00, Sun & Bank Holidays 10.00-18.00,
– no alcohol or food can be sold from the premises.
This development (a 4- to 6-storey storage facility) is a huge improvement on the original proposal for a 14 storey tower-block and we thank Access Storage for working with OWGRA and the local community to reach this position.

OSTERLEY STATION CAR PARK DEVELOPMENT

Quite a few local residents attended the exhibition at the end of 2018 on the proposed development of a 10-storey block of flats over the car park at Osterley station, with further information available here

http://www.brentfordtw8.com/default.asp?section=info&page=planning050.htm. These are the comments that were made to the developer:

·         Height. Far too tall for an area where the prevailing height is 2-3 storeys – 10 storeys is wholly out of scale for the area.

·         Station. Completely fails to respect, reflect, harmonise or support the Grade II-listed station next to it which is a local landmark and should remain as such.

·         Sight Lines. Stands out like a sore thumb when looking along the Great West Road. with all other buildings stepped back by 7-10 metres from the pavement whereas this is right on the edge of the pavement.

·         Style. No attempt to reflect and mirror the prevailing 1930s red brick style of the area.

·         Parking. Loss of almost 40% of car parking spaces in a car park that is already full 6 days a week by 8.30 am.

In general it is fair to say that the developer received largely (if not completely) negative feedback on their proposals. Following that exhibition the developer held a number of meetings with the council regarding their proposals. Whilst we were not party to those meetings, we understand that the council were also less than supportive of the proposals. We have not heard anything further; hopefully this is due to the developer working on proposals more in keeping with the area.

HUDSON SQUARE/B&Q

Yet more tower blocks are being proposed for Brentford. The latest of these consist of plans to redevelop the current B&Q site at Chiswick roundabout into a complex of 6 tower blocks, ranging in height from 8 storeys up to 16 storeys. (The new development would not include a B&Q store – which would close and not be replaced in the area). This will include a “Hub for Automobile Technology, Collaboration and Research”, retail units associated with the Automobile Technology theme, a hotel, residential units (rental only) in 4 towers and a central square. The proximity of this site to the heavily congested Chiswick roundabout and the very busy M4, Great West Road and North Circular Road on 2 sides of the site represents something of a challenge to the developers regarding pollution levels and access (by foot or by car). We have also heard rumours that TfL are concerned that the development could cause the Chiswick roundabout to become even more congested. The developer held a public exhibition of their plans at the Musical Museum in Brentford on 20/21 March. We will be watching for further news on this.

Tesco / Homebase / Berkeley Homes development proposal
 
Details are still scarce about this proposed development. Indeed the only “official” response we have received was the following from Tesco :
“We are pleased to announce that we have entered into an agreement with Berkeley Homes (St Edward) with the intention of moving to a brand new Tesco Extra store to be developed on the nearby Homebase site at Gillette Corner.
Under the plans, our existing Osterley Tesco Extra store will continue to serve customers as normal for a number of years, until the new store is built and ready to open. Once we have moved, Berkeley Homes will undertake a mixed-use redevelopment of the site.
These plans will be subject to a full planning application process by St Edward, including consultation with the local community, and will take a number of years to develop. We will be sure to keep the local community updated on our plans going forward.”

We understand that a booth will appear in the Tesco car park shortly and will display information on these plans.
We had been aware that there were long term plans to use part of the current Tesco car park for flats (and that the Homebase site was also likely to be redeveloped) but this combined proposal was a surprise to us and will have major implications for residents in the area, in areas such as transport and health care provision.  We assume that school provision will be adequate though.  Presumably Gillette Corner will be redeveloped (a bit like the A4/Boston Manor Road junction when GSK was built).
What we do know is that the development will take at least 4 years and will proceed in a series of phases. First the Homebase store will be closed and the building demolished (we tried to get this building locally listed to protect it, but were not successful). (Note this will mean that, combined with the Hudson Square development (above), that we will lose BOTH the Homebase and B&Q DIY stores). Then a new multi-storey building will be constructed on the site consisting of a new Tesco store,  parking and flats, allowing Tesco to move from their current Syon Lane site to this new location. Then the existing Tesco store will be demolished and the site redeveloped for housing (hopefully a mix of houses and flats, and not just monolithic blocks of flats). No planning applications have yet been submitted for these developments. Whatever is proposed we will be pushing hard for any such development to respect the important Grade II-listed Gillette building, to be in keeping with the style and height of buildings along Syon Lane, to include appropriate actions to mitigate any traffic associated with these developments, to include community and other facilities that local residents can use, and for the developments to represent a welcome addition to the facilities, architecture and appeal of this area. Rumours of the first thoughts of the developers are more than a little different from this.

BOLDER ACADEMY

The building of the new Bolder Academy on MacFarlane Lane has been delayed and the new school buildings won’t be ready to open until the Summer Term 2021. A letter from the headteacher in March 2019 stated the following

“Dear residents,
I wanted to take this opportunity to write to you to keep you updated with the developments of our new school building. As you are aware it was due to be completed by September 2020 and the Governing Body, Sky, London Borough of Hounslow, and I have been doing everything in our power to meet this deadline.

Despite our best efforts, due to the complexities of the property deals and the number of stakeholders involved in signing off the s106 legal agreement, it has now become apparent that the construction of the permanent school building cannot be delivered until Spring 2021.The DFE has appointed the building contractor. The contractor and the Academy has undertaken detailed design down to the level of furniture layouts.

With the completion date of Spring 2021 we want to minimise disruption to students and most importantly their learning. This means that our current students and the students who join us this coming September will be based at 390 London Road until summer 2021.This will allow the Academy time to ensure a smooth transition. It will also enable us to rehearse travel plans with our students and parents to minimize concerns that you may have. For the students who join us in year 7 in September 2020, we have agreed to run a split site. We have worked hard to ensure that these students also have access to first-rate facilities and are currently in detailed discussions with a school very close to us. This school has sufficient space as they will have a new building ready for this September. Talks are ongoing and we hope to be able to confirm further details in the next month.

For those of you who are local parents we do know that a great school and a great education ultimately comes down to the teaching on offer and the pastoral care in place. We know at Bolder these two aspects are very strong features of the Academy.

Open mornings for admissions for September 2020 will be announced shortly.

I will of course continue to keep OWGRA up to date with developments as they arise.

Best wishes,
Heidi Swidenbank
Headteacher”

In May 2019 in an update (http://bolderacademy.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/May-2019.pdf ) the school have advised that the “school very close to us” referenced above to be used by the pupils who join them in Year 7 in September 2020 will be The Green School in their new Sixth Form block.

OWGRA Community Litter Pick, Windmill Lane, 2 March 2019

Nine volunteers (6 from OWGRA, 1 from Heston Action Group, 1 from Isleworth, and Councillor Tony Louki) spent about 1.5 hrs clearing the litter on Saturday morning 2 March along Windmill Lane between the Seccombe roundabout at the Jersey Road/Syon Lane junction and the M4 underpass. They filled 35 green Hounslow Highways bags. Found among other things: 3 sets of registration plates and a set of VW keys!

Many thanks to the Hare & Hounds which kindly provided much deserved refreshments afterwards. A good morning’s work. Thanks to all our volunteers, job well done!