An Octopus For Chiswick Roundabout?

Rima Jones gives us one resident's view of the proposed development

Related Links

Project Website

Response to Report For Chiswick Area Committee - By the applicant, London & Bath and Galliard

Planning Report For Chiswick Area Committee

Gateway Landmark Planned For Chiswick Roundabout


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We must ask whether the proposed development at Chiswick Roundabout is an appropriate landmark for the “gateway to London” writes Chiswick resident Rima Jones.

What statement is it to make? What are its green credentials?

There is no solar roof but five large computer-controlled media screens for frequently changing images, with lights to remain in use 24 hours a day, indefinitely. For advertising. Nothing essential, simply for maximum revenue.

LED still needs energy. Whilst we are being urged to switch our lights off from room to room and leave nothing on standby.
What will be the percentage of renewable energy – 100% with decentralized power for local homes?

A shining example of what can be done?

It is a very large, bulky dominant and incongruous aluminum structure 52m high in a small space and does not relate in any way to the immediate or wider, largely residential, area. ENV – B.1.1, LP4B8.

There is no soft landscaping.

There are no community benefits and it would generate yet more traffic, with insufficient parking space and has the potential for putting further parking stress on the Grove Park area.

From the A4 looking east, it has the appearance of an alien, comical and menacing monster.

It would be seen from the many local conservation and Heritage sites, especially Gunnersbury Park and Kensington Cemetery, which would be overshadowed and to which it would be an inappropriate presence.

Why has the 13 storey office block, approved in 2002 (now lapsed but implemented) not been built, the excavations having been started then abandoned?

There have been changes in priorities since 2002 and we now have a Climate Change Act, with binding targets and significant changes to the London Plan and the local plan. In addition, Kew Gardens has become a World Heritage site.

The developers are hoping that the Octopus will be finished in time for the Olympics. What is its contribution to the “green” Olympics?

Is it seen to be a suitable addition to runway 3, albeit in an unsuitable place, here on the ground, or can the athletes and all who follow be aware that they are entering a greener London? Will it be zero carbon?

No buck-passing, carbon trading or off-setting, with trees going somewhere else. This is a new development.

This is the 22nd planning application in the last 11 years and I’m sure we’ve all had enough of the hoardings and “temporary” advertising.

All previous plans for permanent advertising have been refused and this is very much bigger and more insistent.

The 2006 submission incorporating LED screen was refused and subsequently dismissed at appeal due to the resulting adverse impact on the residential amenities of properties in the area.

The inspector stated, on dismissing the appeal, “With regard to the sensitivity of the area, I consider the introduction of these illuminated panels, through their clarity and high quality images, would increase the perception of light pollution in the vicinity, especially by nearby residents, thus augmenting the effect of the scheme in amenity terms.”

Although the proposed building is smaller in terms of bulk and mass, it is no less prominent due to its design and high-level LED screens.

So why is it being considered now?

An excitingly different and bigger billboard doesn’t make it any more acceptable in terms of driver safety on a substandard motorway with a higher than average rate of accidents (Highways Agency). It is well known to be so, with the subsequent traffic disruption.

“It makes Hounslow look like an important borough” – Councillor Paul Lynch.

It gives it a bit of glamour and sets a precedent for more of the same.

What about the derelict site opposite?

Disregarding driver safety, detrimental effects on nearby conservation areas and Heritage sites, reduced quality of life for residents and a disregard for the character of the area, community and environmental benefits for the sake of a large piece of invasive, insistent and hypnotic glamour can never be acceptable.

There’s plenty of it elsewhere and this very busy roundabout is not the place for a tourist attraction.

Hounslow is an important borough and Brentford is deserving of far better quality architecture than it is getting (Brentford Community Council).

How many awards have been won?

A great opportunity is being lost for this wonderful location, with the river, the canal, rich history and Syon Park.

The sights need to set much higher for “Building Pride Borough Wide”, with an overall vision for the whole area. Can we hope for and look forward to some excellent world-class architecture along Great West Road, making full use of the enormous potential for energy, with perhaps, in addition, some well-placed, graceful wind turbines along it, as a condition of acceptance?

A visible statement of priority for the “Golden Mile” with all due regard for this wonderfully diverse city and its economy.

“Wear them down” tactics on the part of the developers, ignoring the reasons for previous refusals and at the taxpayers’ expense are not to be tolerated.

There is no compliance with the Development Policies.

It is time for an emphatic “No. Advertising will never be acceptable at this site, nor will temporary advertising.”

We must conclude that this site is not suitable for development but would greatly benefit from some trees. Possibly on the roundabout itself an iconic sculpture bearing a solar-powered green globe- a green guardian making a clear statement for global security and hope for the future. A symbol of victory over a slain octopus.

Far more suitable from all points of view, including Kew Gardens, leafy Chiswick and for a World Class city.

Beneficial also for air quality, noise pollution, Co2 emissions and water run-off.

A fitting reward perhaps for the long-suffering residents.

Rima Jones Chiswick

February 23, 2010