Attempt to Prevent Further Gating of Brentford Dock Withdrawn

Article 4 direction abandoned in face of legal challenge

One of the new gates at Brentford Dock
One of the new gates at Brentford Dock. Picture: Brentford Voice


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45 Years of Public Access to Brentford Dock Set to End

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'Unhelpful Misapprehensions' Over Brentford Dock Access Restrictions

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April 4, 2023

An attempt by Hounslow Council to impose restrictions on the further installation of gates or fences at Brentford Dock has been abandoned following legal advice.

The so-called Article 4 Direction was authorised by a meeting of the borough planning committee in January and was subject to consultation during the following month.

It meant that no further gating could be erected around the Brentford Dock estate without planning permission for a period of six months which would have become a permanent restriction if this had been confirmed by the consultation.

The order did not give the council the authority to remove gates that had already been put in place on the estate.

The planning committee was prompted to seek the Article 4 Direction dues to concerns that access to the riverside in the area north of Brentford Dock was being restricted which would have been against its Local Plan guidelines and other policies. These seek to ensure that full public access to the borough’s waterways is maintained.

A month into the consultation 331 responses had been received with two thirds being from residents of Brentford Dock objecting to the direction and 105 in support.

Many of the objections raised concern over the legality of the direction and it is understood that a plan was being made to get a Judicial Review into the decision. The council sought advice on this and was informed that the direction should be withdrawn on the basis of concerns that incorrect factors were considered.

In addition, Brentford Dock residents said they had concerns about the imposition of an order applying to private land and that the gates reduced the cost to them of maintaining and keeping the estate litter free. In addition, it was claimed that a significant amount of anti-social behaviour takes place on the estate from non-residents and numbers passing through were set to rise due to the large increase in local population due to the completion of housing developments in the area. It was said that the design of the Dock does not lend itself to unrestricted public access due to the limited amenity space and the security risks.

Supporters of the direction said they were opposed to the creation of gated communities and that access to the riverside was important for reasons such as mental health and heritage. It was stated by some that the alternative public right of way access included steep steps which raised concerns for disabled access and general accessibility. Some residents of the Dock supported the direction saying that the gates made it feel like a prison.

Anecdotal evidence was provided of the riverside walk being quiet and not seeing antisocial behaviour was provided, including suggestions that as the walk had been open for a significant number of years it should be a public right of way.

Following a discussion with the Chair of the Planning Committee it was decided to withdraw the direction.

The chief officer’s report into the decision says, “It is clear from the consultation responses that there are significant concerns from residents within the Dock with the direction. Procedural and legal matters aside, there are substantial concerns over the safety of its residents, which appear to
have grown during and after the pandemic and include the perceived risk from the growing population of Brentford Town Centre. Additionally, there are concerns that residents are having to pay for the maintenance of the land, and that it is unfair that they have to foot the bill while the use of the area increases.”

It was concluded the direction failed people on both sides of the argument as it would have been unable to secure the full reopening of the area which its supporters sought.

The council is now proposing to engage with Brentford Dock Limited and residents to try to find a compromise solution to the issue.

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