Brentford Residents Say No to Ballymore!
'Too tall, too dense, and too plain ugly'
Around 250 people gathered on Thursday evening to meet the developers and architects of the Brentford High Street proposed development as well as the senior council officers involved.
First of all the council must be thanked for arranging this very necessary meeting. There were two assistant directors from the council as well as a number from the Planning department and their presence is appreciated.
Councillor Colin Ellar, deputy leader of Hounslow opened and chaired the meeting which was a lively event. There was a brief introduction to the development from Sonny Desai and Ballymore presented the changes made since the application.
Local spokesmen put forward their view (links to speeches). Denis Browne of Brentford Community Council, Suzie Betlem of Brentford Chamber of Commerce, Owain Nedin of Brentford Dock Ltd (pdf) and Andrew Dakers of the Brentford High Street Steering Group.While they all spoke about differing aspects of the development they were quite unanimous in thinking it could and should be much improved.
The question of relocating Watermans to the high street was asked several times but nobody on the panel cared to respond to that point.
The consensus from the floor was that the scheme is far too massive; that it is too high and too densely packed. The streets or lanes are too narrow. There are too many flats in Brentford and not enough family accommodation. What is desparately needed in Brentford is community infrastructure such as schools, doctors, dentists, open space, greenery,youth club etc.
Paul Slattery finished off his opening comment with: "We have one chance to get it right and this is not it. We want a world class development."
There was criticism of the documentation, that there is too much of it and it is too complex for the uninitiated resident to understand, even if they could take a week off to download and read it all.
Mary Macleod MP referred to the flurry of corresondence she had already received on the subject and issued a plea for transparency.
People asked about Johnson's island, which is not owned by Ballymore, about historic boatyard, about the view from the bridge looking up and down the canalside, about making better use of St Lawrence's church.
Considerable reference was made to the fact that this development s not for families, the elderly or children. This may be quite deliberate but a community is made up of all these groups, as well as affluent couples.
Paul Monaghan of AHMM Ltd the architects of block C (the one opposite the Magistrate's Court) spoke eloquently but was met with laughter when he compared proposed varied roof lines (3-10) stories with the varied roof lines of 100 years ago. Several people also queried how much attention had really been paid to Brentford's heritage. Sarah Poland said that the architects "haven't understood Brentford at all".
There was criticism about public amenity space especially for children. While the large private community spaces have been landscaped with great consideration, the only open space for children is that behind St Lawrence's church and questions were raised about whether this was sufficient.
Tam Burns of the Magpie queried whether it was possible for the pub to survive, with reduced daylight in her already small back garden, no rear access for beer deliveries (this is quite important in a pub) and residents above her who can complain about the noise.
Several people asked whether anyone was going to take any notice of anything said at the meeting.
BrentfordTW8 look forward to being able to answer that question but has at least taken full notes of the evening. The attached 8 pages is worth the read and captures everything said. Please do take the time to read it. Whether the developers, architects, councillors, council officers will take note only time will tell, but at least the record is there.
November 23, 2012