Huge Development on B&Q Site Set for Approval

Planners' report concludes benefits of Fourth Mile scheme outweigh harms

CGI of Showcase area seen from the elevated M4 near Chiswick Roundabout CGI of Showcase area seen from the elevated M4 near Chiswick Roundabout. Picture: Benoy 2020


GLA Renews Concerns Over 'Fourth Mile' Development At B&Q Site

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A report by Hounslow Council planners is recommending that a massive development proposed for the B&Q site near Chiswick Roundabout be given the go ahead.

The ‘Fourth Mile’ scheme (P/2019/3954) will include 234 flats, a 197 room hotel, a technology showcase building and a new public square.

There would be five buildings in the development linked by a three-level podium and arranged around a public square (Hudson Square) in the centre. The ‘technology showcase’ building would extend parallel to the A4 and elevated M4 alongside the western boundary. It would bound one side of the square and form by three main blocks that rise in height from east to west and would be 8, 9 and 10-storeys respectively. A 12-storey hotel building would be located in the southeast towards Chiswick Roundabout with this forming another side of the square. Finally, there would be three residential blocks that are located at the east and northeast part of the site facing Gunnersbury Avenue, with these forming the other two sides of the square. These would be two 12-storey and one 13-storey residential blocks of which 40% of the units contained would be classed as affordable.

The site was once home to the Hudson Motor Company which had purpose built premises there in 1926.

A visualisation of Hudson Square from the developer
A visualisation of Hudson Square from the developer

It is expected that between 15-25 technology companies will occupy the showcase including new entrants into the market. The applicant Reef says that the hotel is a key part of the overall scheme, supporting anticipated business conferences and tourist demand.

The planners conclude, “The proposal would assist in the regeneration of the area through optimising use of previously developed land with new, high quality buildings plus new public spaces including a public square, footpaths and cycleways. The new housing and commercial uses would help to meet the strategic housing need in the borough, including affordable housing, and would increase local economic activity and employment. The buildings are designed to be highly environmentally sustainable, with bold architecture that is appropriate for the location adjacent to the Great West Road/ M4. “

Objections were received to the proposal because of the height and massing of the building which will be visible from a number of conservation areas and listed buildings including Strand on the Green and Gunnersbury Park. The latest design reaches a maximum of 13 storeys high below an earlier proposal for the site which was 17 storeys high.

It is acknowledged in the report that there still we be ‘some harm’ to the Strand on the Green Conservation Area and Gunnersbury Park Conservation Area and Cemetery.

The West Chiswick and Gunnersbury Society (WCGS) commented on the proposal,” The scale, height and density of the proposed development is far too high, the location of much of the residential unacceptable and the viability of the technology showcase, high-end retail and hotel questionable. The height and scale of the buildings will cause harm to the surrounding heritage assets, both built and natural and to the townscape of nearby residential communities. This harm will be increased by the proposed design of the Technology Showcase and intensified by the signage zones proposed for its outer facades. “

CGI showing how the scheme would appear from Gunnersbury Cemetery
CGI showing how the scheme would appear from Gunnersbury Cemetery

Brentford Voice said, “The proposal does not comply with London Plan policies and the Council’s Climate Action Plan. The proposed Technology Showcase, residential, business and retail floorspace and large advertisement panels are wholly inappropriate for this development of this size and nature.”

Strand on the Green Association (SOGA) also objected to the scheme saying, “ SOGA disagrees with Visual Impact Assessment submitted and consider that the proposals cause substantial harm to those important heritage views. The application has not demonstrated that it has met the high bar necessary to demonstrate that this would justify such harm and demonstrate exceptional and innovative heritage-respecting design in line with the Area Appraisal.”

View from Strand on the Green (height of buildings slightly reduced in latest proposal)

However the planners say, “Taking all these matters into account, and balancing the benefits of the development against the harm, approval is recommended, as positive social, economic and environmental impacts would outweigh the harmful effects of the development.”

The roughly triangular site of around 1.6 hectares is bound by a railway to the north, the A4 and elevated M4 motorway to the west, Gunnersbury Avenue (A406 North Circular) to the east and Larch Drive to the south. Chiswick Roundabout is nearby to the south.

The large B&Q retail warehouse currently occupies the northern part of the site.

The name 'Fourth Mile' is derived from the horizon being three miles away on flat terrain and therefore the fourth mile represents looking beyond the horizon. This is meant to symbolise the futuristic intent of the scheme.

The developers say that the scheme will lead to 1,500 jobs and apprenticeships with in excess of 2,000 jobs during the construction stage.

The application will now be considered at a forthcoming meeting of the borough planning committee. If the application is approved the anticipated completion of the scheme would be 2025/26.

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November 26, 2021

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