Frustration with Brentford High Street Recognised

Plans for new high street continue slowly but steadily

Related Links for information on meetings that take place on 3rd Monday of every month, 6.30pm at Watermans.

May Highlights from Steering Group

Empty shops revival plan to prevent high street decline

Communities and Local Government

Brentford High Street Steering Group

Brentford Chamber of Commerce

Qulliam Property Services

What's happening on the high street

Windows on Brentford Project

Switch-On Party at the Watermans Arts Centre

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Highlights of the recent Brentford High Street Steering Group follow. If you would like to learn more about what's going on, have any comment or would like to help, please email the editor or post on the forum. Andrew Dakers can be contacted on 07788 116159 or via email at

Land acquisition and consolidation 
One of the major barriers to implementing a "comprehensive" scheme on the South Side of Brentford High Street has been fragmented land ownership.  Consolidation has been ongoing for around 15-20 years!  There are now just a few pockets of land where Ballymore/ Geronimo continue to be in discussion with various landowners.  The time these discussions are taking to conclude is extremely frustrating to the local community.  One piece of land, County Parade, is owned by the Council.  In the circumstance where the Council supported a scheme brought forward by developers including the County Parade site - and a financial agreement was concluded - then it would seem to be very likely that the County Parade site would also be included in the rebuild.  Land disputes are now largely resolved. 

Compulsory Purchase Orders
In the Brentford Area Action Plan (BAAP) the Council has committed to using Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs), if any pockets of land need to be acquired to enable a scheme supported by the Council to progress.  Unfortunately CPOs as a route to completing land acquisition can take many years.  My personal view is that I hope fair deals are found for the land sellers, purchasers and the surrounding community.  The higher the land price rises the more development pressure this will put on the site and then infrastructure (health, schools etc) used by the local community, which would be unfortunate.

Design/ planning permission   In 2007 the High Street Steering Group completed an innovative, award winning community visioning project which considered all aspects of the sustainable regeneration of our town centre and set out 114 recommendations by which any scheme brought forward by developers should be assessed.    We are very frustrated that despite several promises, the developers Geronimo/ Ballymore have yet to bring forward their scheme for review by local councillors and the wider community.  We understand their initial scheme concept - referenced in Estates Gazette and displayed on their architect BDP's website briefly - was not particularly well received when presented to The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE).  The site is also at high risk of flooding which means that plans must be supported by the Environment Agency.  This is another major challenge for the developers.

At a meeting of Isleworth & Brentford Local Area Committee (IBAC) on 22 January 2009 Mr Jordan advised IBAC councillors: "A recent meeting was held with David Lunts, Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), at which this site was raised. Hounslow would be meeting the Agency again to discuss the delivery of a number of large sites within the Brentford area.... Mike Jordan suggested that the HCA was the partner to engage with and noted the housing emphasis in their agenda. He added that as ever, early progress would be impossible without a consensus among the Authority/ HCA and the developer, Ballymore as to what form the regeneration would take.... The Authority was promoting the phased rebuilding of the Town Centre to a human scale, as finance for an incremental approach may be more accessible in the current economic climate. Officers supported having a master plan but acknowledged that it could be implemented in phases. Discussions with Ballymore this week suggested the company was moving towards a phased approach – either due to “credit crunch” or due to the asking price for the remaining parcels of land. Mike Jordan acknowledged that some things would be harder to achieve using an incremental approach, such as a Waterman’s replacement....Mike Jordan indicated that the developer had instructed architects to resume work on the project and was anticipated to approach the Authority in the coming weeks with a phased proposal, reflecting the current economic mood." 

In a letter to local councillors on 12 June 2009 (and then repeated in Steering Group/ Brentford Chamber meeting at Watermans, 15 June 2009) Ballymore set out how in recent months they have been: undertaking an initial consultation exercise with key stakeholders; are planning a drive about to visit other London sites with similar characteristics to Brentford High Street; will spend 2 days canvassing views on the High Street; will run a community consultation event to help prioritise issues and inform the masterplan brief; and work to deliver a programme of temporary uses on site.  Ballymore say they are: "Keen to bring forward development on the site...[develop] a masterplan brief... [However, in common with most we] are in the hands of our funders who will provide the several million pounds of finance needed to deliver an acceptable scheme to planning permission... we cannot guarantee this will happen in the short to medium term."

The High Street Steering Group are continuing to monitor whether sufficient Council officer time is being given to progressing this vital regeneration project.

None of the above will happen without continued investment.  The total development cost is likely to be in the region of £200m (approx figure drawn from modelling behind Brentford High Street: The Community Vision report - Nov 2007).  Whilst we have been frustrated at some aspects of how the process has progressed to date (too many shops remain boarded up, older buildings are not being well cared for, and one of our boatyards is closed) we welcome Geronimo/ Ballymore's readiness to invest in Brentford.   However local peoples' frustration with the painfully slow progress and visible development blight is once again rising.  Particularly given the current economic climate, we welcome steps being taken by LB Hounslow and Ballymore to explore engaging HCA as a development partner, and the initial consultation that Ballymore has started (April 09). 

June 23, 2009