Brentford Town Centre - work to start soon?

Controversial development to begin "within six months"

Work on the long-awaited redevelopment of Brentford Town Centre could begin in Spring 2005, has learnt. However, there are still many issues to be resolved before changes will take place.

Brentford Area Action Plan - first report

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The proposed changes to the south side were first announced in 1999. However the area is now home to a variety of empty warehouses and derelict offices, with no indication that the building work is due to commence.

However, insiders at Brentford Town Centre Ltd have said that legal and other planning agreements are close to completion, which will enable demolition to begin on part of the site, most probably at the eastern end of the site around Catherine Wheel Road.

The proposed redevelopment of the area between the High Street and the canal has attracted controversy since the launch of the Brentford Regeneration Plan in 1997. The original proposals including a multiplex cinema, a supermarket and two multistory car parks were attacked by many residents as being an over-development. Particular focus was placed on the Brewery Tap pub, which was due for demolition. A pressure group was formed which succeeded in getting the plans modified to save the historic pub.

The shape of any future development is yet to be decided. Once the necessary documents are signed an Outline Planning Permission will exist for the site. This marks out the boundaries of the scheme and the access roads in and out. The developers will then have to present a detailed plan which will be consulted on by local residents, businesses and other stakeholders in what will be one of the biggest planning enquiries seen in the area. Brentford Town Centre Ltd have promised that residents' voices will be heard by setting up local development teams to study the proposals in detail.

There are still some factors that may hold the scheme back. The developers only have ownership of around 70-80% of the land. Some of the parcels that are owned by others are in areas that would be crucial to the success of any development, including much of the canal frontage along The Ham. As a last resort Hounslow Council could apply for Compulsory Purchase Orders, but these are expensive and time-consuming. Objectors have also raised conservation issues involving bird and wildlife breeding grounds in the boatyards that are under threat.

Planners at Hounslow Council have told that they are keen for the development to move on. The area around the town centre has seen a great deal of development over the past few years whilst progress on the centre has been frustratingly slow. Other planning issues, such as the need to draw up a Local Development Framework for the area, may add to the time it takes for any redevelopment to come to fruition.

15 Oct 2004

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