It's Gold, It’s Crass, It’s Out of Place

Local residents' group reacts angrily to Octopus approval

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Residents living near the proposed new ' Octopus' at Chiswick roundabout have objected to the development branding it "crass, and out of place".

Members of the West Chiswick and Gunnersbury Society (WCGS) have written to Hounslow Council, which recently granted permission to the developer, claiming it goes against local and national planning objectives. The scheme includes an iconic LED 'shroud' around a large office and retail development.

But local people claim that it will increase air pollution and is not environmentally friendly.

"How can Hounslow Council’s Sustainable Development Committee justify a decision that not only flies in the face of current policy but that would also undermine its emerging vision for the future ?" asks the society?

Permission was granted by the Sustainable Development Committee (SDC) on Thursday 27 October 2011 for the proposed development on land at Chiswick Roundabout at the Junction of Gunnersbury Avenue and Great West Road , subject to conditions relating to lighting, advertising and job creation.

But the WCGS believes that the decision is contrary to the Council’s own planning policies, those of the London Plan and national planning statements. The society claims it goes against the Council's Preferred Core Strategy which includes objectives relating to the promotion of local character, reducing carbon emissions, promoting and improving green spaces and heritage assets.

The Society believes that if the development is allowed to be built, it will have a severe negative impact on the quality of life of local residents (in terms of well-being, environment, amenity, local character and sense of place) and on the neighboring heritage assets and green spaces of Gunnersbury Park and Gunnersbury Cemetery.

WCGS is supporting the current regeneration project for Gunnersbury Park being managed jointly by the London Boroughs of Hounslow and Ealing. One of its committee members, Marie Rabouhans, met in Parliament recently with local MP Mary Macleod and Angie Bray, MP for Ealing who endorsed the efforts of the groups involved .

"How will the 'Octopus," a massive, permanently lit, alien intrusion pay respect to our heritage or enhance our enjoyment of this beautiful green space? " asks the WCGS in its letter to the Council?

The society claims that the power generation system for the development will add to air pollution by increasing nitrogen dioxide levels at a time when the area already has "shockingly " low air quality.

"Siting such an unsustainable, energy-demanding, permanently lit construction in this prominent location will seriously damage the reputation and green credentials not only of Hounslow and London but of the UK generally. Over 40% of the energy needed to run the building will be for the LED lights of the media screens and the rest of the shroud.

According to Kim Gottlieb, managing director of London and Bath Estates ‘Its bold its brash it’s in your face’.

Another interpretation might be ‘It's gold, it’s crass, it’s out of place' ", says the Society, adding that neither of these messages is one they wish to communicate about London in the 21st century.

November 19, 2011