St Margaret's Development Gets The Go Ahead
Strong local opposition not enough to change Council's mind
The proposed redevelopment of St Margaret’s House on Sutton Court Road, Chiswick will go ahead despite local opposition.
The decision was made at a Council meeting this week which was attended by more than 60 Chiswick residents concerned about the scale of the plans and the intended new usage of the building.
In October Shepherds Bush Housing Group submitted a planning application to redevelop St Margaret’s House into supported housing scheme providing 26 self contained flats for young people.
“We have a strong local presence with a reputation for providing outstanding services," said Amanda Morrison, SBHG’s Director of housing services. "We recognise the importance of managing the impact on the surrounding neighbourhood. We always have provisions in all our tenancy agreements and licences that cover any anti social behaviour whether in our premises or the local area."
Chiswick resident Ed Stanley, spoke at the meeting on behalf of concerned locals. He told ChiswickW4.com: "About 60 local residents made their way to Hounslow Civic Centre to show their concern. Sadly, the vote went against us on the night but we feel completely vindicated in taking this stand. It was important that we let the Council know how strongly we felt about the lack of public consultation over a deal that had been done behind closed doors long ago."
He continued: "Fair play to Shepherds Bush Housing Group; they took our complaints seriously and they conceded that there should have been extensive pre-application consultation with the local community as there has been on similar projects outside the borough; however, the Council had suggested that they did not need to. We had to make the case that the Council had breached its legal obligations under its own Statement of Community Involvement in letting the application go ahead. That’s no easy task when the Council is sitting in judgement of itself.
"We questioned the client need for this facility. The Council’s own statistics show that right now there are only 28 people aged 18 to 21 in the borough who qualify as single homeless – there are existing hostels available but this will provides further accommodation for 21 of them!
"There was a crowded agenda and we appreciate how much material Councillors have to sift through but it was clear that this evidence had not been absorbed. It’s the fault of the system that we had to address complicated matters of fact and law all in a five minute slot."
The Council said that they will commit to pay Shepherds Bush full rent on this facility irrespective of how many young people are directed there.
"We thoroughly expect the Council to be saying balefully in two years time that the building really needs to be turned over to a different client group or sub-let to other boroughs – assuming of course they think they need to tell anyone," he added.
St Margaret’s House will be a supported housing scheme providing 26 self contained flats for young people, as requested by Hounslow Council. The aim is to help young people prepare for independent living by offering them accommodation and professional support and guidance. Each young person will have their own flat but there will also be staff and facilities on site to provide them with training in practical skills, such as cooking and budgeting. SBHG will also offer them support and advice on getting into college, onto vocational courses, securing employment or signposting them to other specialist agencies.
December 18, 2010