'Alien And Alienating' - Local Groups Plead Against Allowing The 32-Storey Curve

Inquiry hears 'brutal building' would harm river views, heritage, and local quality of life

The planned tower viewed from Chiswick Roundabout



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The proposed 32-storey Chiswick Curve would be "alien and alienating - demeaning and belittling the intimate, human scale of our neighbourhoods and destroying our sense of place in Chiswick", a local resident's group said last week.

Marie Rabouhans of the West Chiswick & Gunnersbury Society (WCGS) told the Public Inquiry in Brentford Free Church, that the change in scale from the current low rise surroundings would be "brutal" and as well as the impact on the quality of life for local residents, it would have negative impacts on local heritage assets.

"WCGS disagrees fundamentally with the overall position of the appellant (Starbones) that the development would deliver public benefits that would outweigh the harm. What is at stake is what will be lost, -an open skyline, a river view- or diminished-the essence and spirit of a place-and these will be lost or diminished forever." You can read the full submission of the WCGS.

The importance of the views and the character of the listed buildings along Strand on the Green, which was "perhaps the most important panoramic view from the south side of the river Thames" was the argument against the Curve proposed by Richard Griffith, chairman of Strand on the Green Residents Association (SoGA), who said that poor quality developments could harm the integrity of the Conservation Area.

He told the Inquiry, in its second week, at Brentford Free Church, that there were currently ambitious plans for schemes which included tall buildings and these would have an impact on the wider character of Chiswick and their effect on the Conservation Area should be considered. The skyline of Strand on the Green was currently broken in on by the BSI Tower at Gunnersbury.

"A poorly planned backdrop to the wider area through a failure to get current draft local plan reviews adopted and through appeal decisions approving inappropriately tall and bulky buildings will put the character and appearance of this conservation at risk of significant loss and harm. The skyline is especially vulnerable to inappropriate change."

He described Strand on the Green as "a vital area, with a carefully, effectively designed composition of river, historic waterfront and uninterrupted sky."

A successful relationship between old and new in Brentford and Chiswick could come under pressure by inappropriate development.

James Wisdom of the Friends of Gunnersbury Park also gave a submission in which he stated, "It cannot be denied that it will loom over the Park, and visitors will be constantly aware of it in
ways they do not experience with the existing buildings. When visitors are moving, it will come
repeatedly into view.

"The experience will enforce a feeling of confinement and restriction on visitors, when many
visit to enjoy quite the opposite - freedom, light, movement, nature and fresh air."

"There will be no respite from its intrusive character even at night. We have just spent millions restoring the historic landscape and rescuing most of the historic buildings, and we despair at having that effort damaged by the brutality of this intrusive building."

The Kew Society, Skyline, and Hounslow Council are also opposed to the Chiswick Curve. Starbones, the developer, is the appellant. The Inquiry is scheduled to last four weeks.

The Curve from Kew Bridge

The Curve from Kew Bridge

The Chiswick Calendar has set up a rota to which people can sign up anonymously, so that it can be seen that members of the public are present to show that there is public interest in the matter, particularly when local groups are speaking. Marie Rabouhans of the WCGS says "Please attend as much of the Inquiry as you can, and the next important date is for the Closing submissions on Day 13* (Wednesday 4 July). "

Hounslow Council, with a full legal team and expert witnesses, has presented its case for turning the application down. This was followed by the Rule Six parties, including Historic England, The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, and the Kew Society. Much of the submissions centred around the 'harm' caused to heritage assets by the height and density of the proposed development. Starbones in its opening submission, claimed that it would be a public benefit and this would outweigh any 'harm'.

Starbones, the appellant, will present its case this week, the third week, followed by the closing submissions in week Four. There are two parts to the appeal, the first is against the planning refusal, and the second is against refusal for the advertising.

The appeal will be decided by Inspector Paul Griffiths and a report will be compiled for the Secretary of State.

The Curve outside Gunnersbury station on Chiswick High Road

The Curve outside Gunnersbury station on Chiswick High Road


A view from the A4

A view from the A4


June 25, 2018

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