Anger As Planning Inspector Rules Council Can't Block Parkview Plan

Over 200 flats overlooking Gunnersbury Park get the go ahead

Parkview. Picture: Google Streetview


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The Planning Inspector has ruled that Hounslow Council cannot block a plan to convert an office development into flats by a busy section of the A4/M4 in Brentford leading to an angry response from local residents' groups.

Parkview is located next to the EMC tower overlooking Gunnersbury Park, fronting onto the Great West Road and the elevated M4.

A notice was given in February this year of a plan to change the building from office space to 171 residential units. Spread over 4 floors these would all be one bedroom flats except for 12 two bedrooms. An early plan was also submitted which included 213 flats and this also has now been approved.

The developers are Henderson UK Property PAIF (with a portfolio worth over £3 billion) and Jersey-based Grey Rock Management Ltd.

Hounslow Council initially refused prior approval due to poor access to public transport, a poor pedestrian and cycling environment, and poor air quality. Also the high number of car parking spaces would not reduce reliance on car based travel. The appeal, launched in July, has just been approved.

Parking spaces are to be blocked off to reduce the number to 137 spaces for 171 flats, along with a blue badge spaces and a minimum of 20% for electric vehicles. 194 cycle parking spaces are to be provided.

The PTAL rating, by which the ease of access to public transport is determined is, bizarrely, 2 (poor) across the majority of the site but the front of the site is level 3, which is deemed adequate. The H91 runs outside and Kew Bridge and Gunnersbury stations are short walks away, if not altogether pleasant ones with a toucan crossing nearby.

The Planning Inspector agreed that air quality is poor and will detract from the quality of walking and cycling environment but this was deemed insufficient to warrant rejection.

This application was made under Prior Approval determinations which allows commercial space to be converted to residential without planning permission. Hounslow has put in for an Article 4 direction which should come into effect shortly. This would give Hounslow more control over the planning process and the ability to control the amount of employment floorspace.

To further complicate this, an appeal was also granted for a previous application to convert this same building into 213 flats. As the appeal was granted for both applications, it is not clear which one will proceed.

A separate planning application has now been made for replacement of the existing fixed glazed panels on the building to provide windows that open for residential flats, although this application makes no reference to the appeals or the number of flats. The windows on the front would be perilously close to the A4/M4 in terms of both noise and air pollution.

A West Chiswick and Gunnersbury Society spokesperson said, "Parkview must be one of the worst examples of the harmful consequences of the Government’s changes to legislation on permitted development rights to allow conversion of offices to residential.

"The Prior Approval applications and subsequent Appeal decisions means that this office building will now be an extremely densely-occupied residential building with either 171 or 213 units (depending on which of the two schemes is implemented).The office building in question is located on the north side of the A4 between the Chiswick roundabout and Lionel Road South. The frontage of the building is close to the A4 and to the elevated M4. The site is in an area of high noise and air pollution and of poor access to public transport and is totally inappropriate for residential use. The quality of the accommodation will be very poor in many other respects. The Council tried hard to prevent the conversion but the grounds on which you can refuse a Prior Approval are so limited that their arguments did not convince the Inspector. When it comes to housing it's 'never mind the quality, feel the width'"!

November 17, 2017

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