Brentford Chamber Gets Ballymore Update
New Development Manger fields Brentford flak
The Residents' Clubroom at Brentford Dock was the site of fierce discussion about the future of the High Street.
Some 60 people, formed of Brentford Chamber members and other local businesses, local residents turned up to meet Joe Swindells, Ballymore's recently appointed Senior Development Manager.
The last time we heard from Ballymore was in November 2013 when they announced they had further modelling to do for TfL and that the application would have to be on hold for six months. This was a year after Hounslow council led a public consultation in St Paul's Church where the general consensus from the audience was that it was too high, dense and ugly.
Joe made it very clear that he wasn't here to discuss the application as such. That was submitted two years ago and he looks forward to seeing an agreement on it at planning committee straight after the local elections this Summer.
His job, once the application has gone through, is to formulate strategies. Strategies to cover retail, leisure and riverside, to name but a few. Strategies that haven't been touched yet so will be started at the beginning, with a clean slate.
It will take a good year once permission is granted (if) before the bulldozers roll in, as the finance and marketing need to take place, with a substantial number of flats needing to be sold in order to raise the full finance necessary.
Ballymore was criticised by Cllr Mel Collins as well as others for not providing any social housing, for which Hounslow has a great need (over 12,000 on the waiting list for housing) and questions were raised as to who all these people were who could afford to buy these high priced flats in Brentford.
Brendon Walsh, Director of Regeneration, Economic Development and Environment at Hounslow talked about the fluctuations in the market for property development and the need to get this development happening at a time when the market is positive and investment is forthcoming.
The potential move of Watermans Arts Centre to the centre of Brentford to act as "an anchor for night life" was raised again by Philip Nash, of Garden Designs, but nothing has moved forward. It's in discussion.
Paul Whitehall, owner of Naked Grain raised queries about his survival. Whether trading on the north or south side of the high street, many businesses are going to be severely affected and, as previously stipulated by Ballymore, there is no strategy or help in place to deal with.
Summing up then, Joe met a good vocal cross-section of Brentford who articulated many criticisms about three key areas: riverside, retail and leisure. Joe is here to start off the next round of dialogues and Brentford Chamber looks forward to working with him and hopefully seeing some more interaction.
Ballymore Meeting Notes (pdf).
May 2, 2014