Manderson House Plan Approved at Another Fractious Meeting

Councillors and rival developer express concerns about the scheme

A visualisation of the Makers' Yard scheme from the developer


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June 19, 2023

A planning application in Brentford that received 21 objections and staunch opposition from a rival developer has been approved by Hounslow Council. The development of Manderson House on Commerce Road to be known as Maker’s Yard will provide 111 new flats as well as commercial space in keeping with the area.

Despite the housing officer’s recommendation for approval, the development, which will have two buildings between 8 and 9 stories high, seemed to have its future hanging in the balance for much of the committee meeting due to a number of objections and concerns raised by both councillors and members of the public. A key concern for some councillors including Cllr Raghwinder Siddhu, Cllr Tony Louki and Cllr Alan Mitchell was to do with the percentage of affordable houses the project would provide.

The council’s target for new developments is 40 per cent however Manderson House will only have 27 per cent as part of its affordable housing offering which was described to be the “maximum reasonable within the viability context” by the council officer. In other words, it wasn’t financially viable for the developer to make more houses affordable.

However, this deeply concerned Cllr Louki who raised the question that if they were to approve the application despite it falling well below affordable housing targets it would encourage other applications of a similar nature, diluting and weakening the council’s affordable housing goals. This was a worry echoed by Cllr Siddhu and Mitchell.

Cllr Louki went further to criticise the dilution of affordable housing targets, asking, “how much of it (affordable housing provision) is shared ownership? We have all gradually decided it’s a racket because when you add in service charges it reduces the value of what you are getting.”

CGI from the developer of the scheme as seen from Commerce Road
CGI from the developer of the scheme as seen from Commerce Road

Discussions around affordable housing only became more pointed when the key objector to plans was given the floor. Grant Leggett from Boyer Planning, said that Manderson House had been “badly designed” and that he felt that the committee had been “misled” about the plans.

Mr Leggett said he had a major problem with windows on the south side of the proposed building which he said would make it impossible for his own client to develop his own housing project. He argued that, Bridge House, which is in the pre-application process would have to reduce the number of homes provided by the scheme from 69 to 14, while if Manderson House removed its windows the drop in housing units for the projected would be much less.

He argued that therefore the overall increase in housing in the borough would come from Manderson House changing its design. Councillors’ ears really perked up when Mr Leggett said that the plan for the 69 flats was for the entire number to be affordable.

However, councillors were reminded that Manderson House had to be judged on its own merits and not on the basis of a hypothetical affordable housing development that was not yet ready to go to committee. Cllr John Stroud-Turp said that Mr Leggett’s comments that the housing officers had ‘misled’ the committee was ‘intemperate’ while Cllr John Todd called it “a load of waffle”.

The applicant’s advocate echoed this saying he was “shocked by the criticism which is completely unfounded and completely unreasonable”. He also added that there was no need for Manderson House to reduce the number of units it offered and that Mr Leggett has created a “false jeopardy”.

The panel voted to approve the construction with Cllr Raghwinder Siddhu, Cllr Tony Louki and Cllr Alan Mitchell being the only councillors to oppose the application.

Rory Bennett - Local Democracy reporter


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