Brentford FC Plans Upset Chiswick Locals
Grant Feller advises that the deadline to object is end of October
A campaign to protect a corner of Chiswick from one of the biggest developments the boroughs of Hounslow and Richmond have ever seen is calling for all residents – not just those who live nearby – to take immediate action over the next few days or watch the area’s permanent destruction, writes Grant Feller who lives in Chiswick.
In the face of enormous opposition from families, politicians such as Zac Goldsmith, and environmental experts, Hounslow Council is desperate to approve an application from Brentford Football Club – owned by secretive multi-millionaire gambling tycoon Matthew Benham. And many believe that ‘greed’ is one of the council’s chief motivating factors.
If it gets its way, Hounslow Council will approve the building of a 20,000-seat stadium that will be used all-year round by football and rugby clubs and rock concert promoters, 12 tower blocks up to 16-storeys high containing almost 1,000 new homes and a 160-room hotel. There will be no new roads, parking facilities or infrastructure to placate residents – except, that is, for reopening an existing pedestrian underpass. And October 31 st has been installed by the council as the deadline to object. (Details of how to express opposition are at the bottom of this article.)
‘We can’t let Hounslow Council get away with this,’ says one Stile Hall Gardens resident Adrian Coxon. ‘For months we have been asking for more clarification of the impact that this development will have on our lives but it seems that local government are trying to ignore us. They are putting profits before good government. I have lived here with my family for 10 years and have decided to take a stand not just for us but for future generations to enjoy the same community. One day, people will be walking from Kew Gardens, Syon Park or Gunnersbury Park, or maybe along the banks of the River Thames, and they’ll take one look at the imposing tower blocks plonked right in the heart of one of London’s loveliest areas, and say: ‘’What idiots gave approval for that?’’ If we don’t do something those idiots will be us.
Many other residents believe that Hounslow Council is financially motivated because it will benefit enormously from extra housing, more council tax, along with increased revenues from sports clubs and music promoters.
Another of the area’s activists, Sian Williams , agrees. ‘The truth is, when Brentford Football Club – and its then-chairman Greg Dyke – proposed the redevelopment, many of us football supporters were thrilled. But now we feel utterly conned: the real motivation of the shadowy money-men behind the scheme was always to turn it into an obscene over-development in which everyone gets rich. Just last week the few streets around the site got a ‘final warning’ letter. The trouble is, the wording of it makes meaningful objection almost impossible. And do people who live near Turnham Green or Kew Village know that this is going to be on the doorstep? Do they really think that 20,000 people on Saturday afternoons and nights will not spill out into the wider area? This is a development that should concern everyone and one can only speculate as to why Labour-controlled Hounslow Council is reluctant to widen its area of consultation among residents who have traditionally voted against their party.’
According to planning experts, the density of flats alone is 3 times that advised by the Local, GLA and National Planning guidelines for this area. Including other local developments this will result in an extra 12,000 Brentford residents, a 40% rise in the local population.
Brentford FC will own the stadium but plan to rent the ground to an as yet unnamed premier league rugby club. This means 32 weekend, 10 midweek and 3 Bank Holiday matches per year; nearly one every week, as well as summer concerts and other use as yet to be confirmed.
The site, on Lionel Road just behind Brentford Leisure Centre, is at the intersection of Chiswick, Kew, Strand on the Green and Brentford. Existing gridlock at Kew Bridge already backs traffic down Chiswick High Road, Brentford High Street and Kew Rd and into residential streets at rush hour or following any minor traffic incident. There are no proposed improvements to the road network or to the local tube stations with only minor amends to Kew Bridge mainline. Many fear that this area will not cope with the proposed increase in residents.
Mr Coxon adds: ‘It’s my opinion that Hounslow council has not facilitated proper meetings or consulted with the wider community or realistically assessed the impact on the local area. Residents are not aware of the huge scale or extent of the plans or the impact it will have on living in the surrounding area. Unless we act now this development will go ahead and fundamentally change the character of our unique community forever.’
So this is the advice that your local resident groups have given:
In any correspondence, you must quote the Planning Reference Number, P/2013/1811 and title it ‘Land At Lionel Road’:
October 18, 2013