Lots and lots of planning
Wednesday evening we have the latest iteration of the Great West Corridor local plan review. We are presented with a lot of very busy Powerpoint slides which were pretty hard to read but essentially the ambition is to have the GWR/Golden Mile mainly commercial or industrial where it faces the road, with any residential ‘hidden’ behind the commercial, to provide a measure of protection. Councillor Louki sternly insists that the Golden Mile ends at Gillette Corner so the site at the SW of that corner which is currently subject to a planning application is out of scope, as we have already established for Brentford High Street. My angle is more about transport – I don’t want more development before we have the new rail stations either up and running or at least clearly committed, and I want transport provision which links the GWR to the new vibrant Brentford High Street which will emerge over the next few years, for example a circular bus route. There’s still many a month before this gets finalised and there will be public consultations later in the year.
So to planning. On the way to the meeting I get a phone call from Bob Whatley, the chair, to tell me he’s not going to attend because he has got an inner ear problem which means he’s completely lost his sense of balance. I tell him that I always thought he was unbalanced (as are all councillors, probably) and to consult his Yogi but he tells me that only works for his Third Eye. So muggins, as vice chair, has to take the chair. Fortunately, as predicted, there is only one application and this is pretty uncontroversial with even the Chair of the Heston Residents Association having written in support (a rare event indeed where a RA gives full support). This is for Rectory Farm.
No, I didn’t know where it was either but it’s that scrubby bit of farmland off the A4 just before you get to the Jolly Waggoners roundabout in Cranford. We’d had a preview of this application and I think it’s a truly exciting scheme. Basically they are going to quarry for gravel underneath the site and create massive underground warehouses where the gravel was. Not too exciting, you may think, but the whole of the land above is going to become an enormous public park, the biggest new one in London for decades, with both football and cricket pitches and a very big nature/walking/picnicking etc area. Maintenance of the park will be paid for out of the income from the warehousing, so the whole thing seems like a great win/win. There are concerns about traffic and other matters, and a lot of questions were raised by local councillors, but most of the actual construction will be underground and the good news is they expect the park to be opened within 12 months of them starting work. We approved unanimously.
Friday afternoon I was in St Paul’s church hall looking at the presentation about plans for the Watermans and Police station sites. These are bound to be controversial and I have already had a few comments, though the planning application is unlikely to come until November approximately. Do give your feedback on the proposals!
Saturday was a bit of a mad day, starting with the opening of the rebuilt bridge into Brentford Dock.
Then it was back to St Paul's to meet a man about a proposed development behind Kew Bridge station. I had had a list of concerns given to me by the Melvinator who couldn’t attend as he was (and is still now) holed up in W Middlesex following an operation on his dodgy foot. Another one that will come to planning later, as will the next one I attended, this at the Watermans and to do with proposals for the site of the Citroen garage on Capital Interchange Way. Unfortunately Mel could not attend for his face painting session. I didn’t stay long (I knew about this development in principle, and it’s still in early stages) and rushed off to the Cathja shop in the High Street for the opening of their community room (Mayor Sue the guest of honour again). Then the last knockings of a picnic in the Park Road Allotments and a brief visit to our invalid councillor around the corner in W Midd. In the evening it’s Sue Sampson’s birthday party which was held, rather improbably, in the Hounslow Conservative Club.
The new week is meetings week, which always fills me with special joy: Labour Group on Monday, Borough Council on Tuesday, Labour branch meeting on Wednesday. Nothing terribly exciting at any of them but Steve Curran presented the result of the formal ‘peer review’ where people from other councils give feedback on how we’re doing. This was very positive according to Steve (and according to the report itself, which is not to say that everything is perfect!) and the Tory leader Sam Hearn agreed. Most of the Tories didn’t bother to turn up but the hand of Genghis Todd elevated in due time and (to repeat myself from last week) introduced a bit of grit into the oyster. John is always good at spotting any flaws in our arguments (sometimes he spots real flaws, sometimes they’re flaws in his view only!) and he threw a few into the cooking pot, which upset one on our side causing some slightly unparliamentary language and a later apology. Steve announced also that we have definitely decided not to apply cladding to the Brentford towers but to carry out repairs to the existing concrete instead and Steve and Mary Harpley also remarked that many Hounslow officers (including Mary herself) have been heavily engaged it helping to deal with the consequences of the Grenfell Tower fire, including manning the night shift on the 24 hour residents’ support team. Mary said she was proud of what our officers did to help and I am proud of them too.
Apparently yesterday was the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne but as, unlike some, we don’t have to accommodate the DUP there were no battles of any note in our branch meeting, and a good turnout of our enthusiastic members leading to searches for extra chairs.
This evening (Thursday) get down to the Holiday Inn: there’s £300K of Community Infrastructure Levy to be spent in the Isleworth and Brentford Area Forum area so we need people’s ideas of where to spend a bit to improve the area.
July 13, 2017