Minister Sacked on Day of Tesco/Homebase Protest
Protestors advised to cancel demo just before Michael Gove got role
Campaigners against the Tesco/Homebase development were due to protest in Westminster this Wednesday (15 September) but cancelled the event at the last minute on the advice of civil servants.
Opponents of the massive scheme were planning to gather outside Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) at 2 Marsham Street. They had intended to take their petition, which has received nearly 4,500 signatures, a 3D model of the development and placards to the ministry building from 12-2pm.
The day before the protest local residents’ group Osterley & Wyke Green Residents’ Association (OWGRA) were contacted by officers at the ministry advising them to postpone. The day chosen had inadvertently coincided with the Prime Minister’s cabinet reshuffle in which Housing Minister Robert Jenrick was sacked.
The protest was being held following the decision by the Mayor of London not to challenge Hounslow Council’s granting of planning permission to redevelop the Homebase site at Gillette Corner and the Tesco site in Syon Lane. The scheme involves the demolition of the existing Homebase store and the building of a new Tesco store on the site with 2 levels of parking above, plus 473 flats, and a residential development on the Tesco site of 1,677 homes once the existing Tesco store is demolished. 16 new tower blocks would be built of up to 17 storeys high which opponents argue is excessive in terms of height, massing and density and will transform what has previously been an area of low-rise development.
With the Mayor giving the scheme the green light, the last hope of campaigners was that the Secretary of State would ‘call-in’ the plan making it subject to a public enquiry.
Mr Jenrick was widely seen as pro-developer and there are suggestions that his proposed reforms were held responsible for a recent Tory by-election defeat in Buckinghamshire. He will probably best be remembered for consenting to a £1 billion scheme for Conservative Party Tory donor Richard Desmond after being shown details by the former pornographer on a mobile phone. His decision was later deemed to be unlawful and was quashed.
The final decision on the Tesco/Homebase plan now falls to Michael Gove. During his failed bid for leadership of the party he said, “We need a national ambition to build hundreds of thousands of new homes a year, both private and socially-rented – led by someone who will not take no for an answer and who will push for diggers in the ground and homes for all come what may.”
However, he is also on record as saying that beauty should be a primary concern of development in this country and is liable to take into account design as a factor in his ruling. Hounslow Planning Committee ignored the recommendations of the Council’s own independent Design Review Panel which reached similar conclusions to those of OWGRA.
September 17, 2021