Decision on Kew Bridge (Scottish Widows) Site To Be Made

But Eco Warriors probably will see their first Christmas there

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Sustainable Development Committee Agenda

Brentford Community Council

St George

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On September 16 Hounslow's Sustainable Development Committee will be making one of the most important decisions facing Brentford.

It is now so many years since the old office building next to Kew Bridge was demolished, that we have begun to think it was always an empty site.

The Eco warriors now squatting on the site think so and perhaps they wish it would always remain empty.

However, even in these hard times there are real plans to develop it. St George's, West London bought the site and applied to build a nine floor building for about 220 flats on it. There were long arguments and the design was modified many times, but eventually planning permission was sought and the Councils professional planning department recommended approval.

But the members thought differently.

The scheme was rejected. It was thought to be too high, too massive and out of character with a sensitive area, full of listed buildings and protected as a Conservation Area.

There was a long inquiry. The applicants employed the leading QC to argue their case. The Council spent much of our rates defending their refusal.

And the Council won the case. It was rejected precisely because the inspector and the Deputy Prime Minister agreed that it was an over-development.

Then after a year or more, when nothing happened, St George appointed another architect. He held long talks with local people and many began to think that a new scheme might emerge which really made the most of this magnificent site.

At the last moment St George bought the Wagon and Horses pub, altered the scheme and applied for planning consent. Those who had thought their ideas might have influenced the outcome were ignored.

But this time the Council officers got into serious discussions with the architects behind closed doors. The result was some modifications to the appearance of the building. Now they are again recommending approval.

Several of those who had argued against the first scheme at the inquiry wrote to the Council this summer to say that it still remains too big.

We will see whether their voice is heard on September 16th. The meeting is open to the public to attend so we can all see firsthand. Perhaps the committee will feel that any scheme is better than none, or perhaps they will feel that this really is a unique site on the edge of the river, which needs a really outstanding solution, even if we have to wait for it.

If so the eco warriors may have the site to themselves for some time yet. 

September 9, 2009

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