Commerce Road Scheme Rejected

Planning Inspector said plan had "fundamental deficiencies"

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Brentford Community Council

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A “monstrous” scheme, backed by the Mayor of London, to build almost 1,000 flats on a site in Commerce Road has been scrapped by a Government planning inspector.

The proposed scheme would have risen to 15 storeys and overlooked the Syon Estate and changed the character of the canal although it is supposed to be protected in a conservation area.

The decision by the Secretary of State to throw out the plans in Commerce Road, Brentford comes after a long battle against the scheme by the Brentford Community Council, residents and the borough council. The inquiry which sat for 32 days between July 2006 and May 2007 endorsed their objections to the scheme.

Cllr. Matt Harmer, who represents Brentford ward for Labour, said, "Thanks are due to all the residents and groups that worked so hard to prepare material for the appeal, and to the council officers for ensuring that the council's decision was defended so well. If there's a small disappointment, it's that the Inspector failed to recognise the employment and transport potential of the canal. However, the Planning Inspector has shown to any potential developer what is needed for this important site - responsible development that enhances this important area."

Councillor Barbara Reid, executive member environment and planning at the London Borough of Hounslow, said: "The total rejection of this monstrous application is wonderful news for residents, and for the future of Brentford town centre. The decision justifies the painstaking work put in by local groups in Brentford, and the planning team at the council - without their efforts the town could have been devastated."

She criticised the Mayor for backing a scheme which she said was fundamentally flawed a view shared by the Inspector. In February 2006, Ken Kivingstone gave Commerce Road as an example of just the sort of strategic planning application that London boroughs wrongly oppose, and he indicated that he intended to use his new planning powers to prevent such "unnecessary" inquiries in future. The challenge, although successful is likely to result in a hefty bill for the taxpayer.

Cllr Reid added, "This is not the first time that the Mayor has tried to bully us into flawed schemes. This is the sixth time since 2000 when the Mayor has given evidence on behalf of the developer against the council, and he has lost each time. We can only hope that the Mayor and his officers reflect on the lessons from these decisions and that he uses his new planning powers more responsibly in future.”

This scheme by ISIS Waterside Regeneration would have seen 992 flats of a high density built on a site earmarked for employment, next to the Grand Union Canal. The proposal’s commercial centre would also have undermined local attempts to breathe new life into Brentford town centre.

Ruth Kelly has agreed with her inspector that the development had "fundamental deficiencies" in relation to design and conservation, access and transport and affordable housing issues. She also agreed that the development would have an overwhelming impact on the adjoining conservation areas and would prejudice the viability of better located town centre sites.

The inspector called for "a completely different conceptual framework that would succeed in respecting the capacity of the site". This echoes the views which residents and the Council had been making persistently to both ISIS and the Mayor over the last 5 years.

December 6, 2007