Watermans Scheme 'Still on Track to Happen'

Assurances given that the project is not about to be scrapped

Visualisation of the new Watermans from the planning application


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Planning Committee Approve Watermans Arts Centre

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November 17, 2023

A meeting this week of Hounslow Council has been given reassurances that the project to build a new Watermans Art Centre is not about to be scrapped.

Councillors met on Tuesday (14 November) to discuss progress on the borough’s Delivery Plan. A report by council officers had flagged the scheme as a ‘red risk’ because of the looming expiry of planning permission if work does not commence.

It is understood that rising costs of both materials and labour plus issues with connecting the scheme to utilities and sufficient power supply being available have delayed the start of work.

A developer had agreed to build the new centre in return for being able to take over the site of the existing arts centre for the Albany Riverside development. Before this project commenced, a purpose built two screen cinema and theatre was to be constructed on Half Acre at the site of the former police station along with 105 new ‘affordable’ flats and 484m2 of retail space centre in a seven-storey block. The total space of 2,776m2 would be approximately equivalent to its current size but there would be no car parking.

The Albany Riverside development on the site of the existing arts centre and the former Max Factor officers would include 193 flats in blocks 6-7 storeys high by the side of the Thames with the riverside path opened up for public use.

The overall project is a joint venture between Topland Group and London Green. Topland Group is a privately held real estate development company based in London, while London Green is a residential property developer and fund manager.

Planning permission was secured for the related plans in 2021 but this is due to expire in April of next year if work has not started.

Earlier this year the council’s cabinet improved further funding for the scheme to cover a shortfall and maintain its viability but discussions with the developers have not resulted in ground being broken.

Before the meeting this week, the council announced that it would be appointing a dedicated project lead to ensure the delivery of the schemes.

Cllr Tom Bruce has responsibility for the project as the Portfolio holder for Regeneration and Development. He told the meeting that he understood that red ratings were always concerning but he wanted to give some reassurance that, despite being rated as ‘red’, the projects were still on track to happen.

He added that the Council was ‘working hard’ with owners and developers of the sites and discussions were taking place about how the projects would be completed.

Albany Riverside
Albany Riverside

It is understood that the developer has been indicating that rising costs are creating issues with the projects for some time with different concerns being raised over the years. Cllr Bruce told the meeting that a ‘reprofiling’ of the project has been discussed along with some non-material amendments which would allow work to commence.

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