Date Set For Hearing On 'Empire House' Challenge

Opponents of the Chiswick High Road scheme have July date for High Court

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A date of July 29 2015 has been set for the first High Court hearing into the application for a judicial review of the Lend Lease scheme (Empire House/Essex Place).

Local Simon Kverndal QC, backed by local residents and groups, seeks to challenge the planning permission given by Hounslow Council.

He added: “The support and encouragement received has been amazing. Clearly the people of Chiswick really do care about Chiswick and I am in no doubt about continuing to challenge the decision to allow this development that seems to us to fly in the face of local planning policies.”

At the recent well attended public meeting at Christ Church, Turnham Green, (report by chiswickbuzz tv ) it was explained that although a judge reviewing the application on paper had refused it, the application could be renewed at an oral hearing. With the benefit of specialist planning advice from solicitors Richard Buxton, and planning counsel Dan Kolinsky QC, the application was renewed and will now be heard at an oral hearing.

A representative of the groups supporting the judicial review said: “The recent government announcement, the morning after our public meeting, of further prospective changes to planning rules to meet the demand for housing, highlights the importance of this case. The future of Chiswick depends on the rigorous enforcement of well thought-out local planning policies. In this case all the policies were there and could have been enforced. They were not.”

Those supporting Simon Kverndal’s challenge appealing to the community to help towards the costs of the litigation. Contributions can be made through the Crowd Justice Website where further information can be found:

Adrienne Copithorne of Richard Buxton Environmental & Public Law said: "We believe the grounds of this challenge are correct. There was a clear failure on the part of the Council officers to advise Committee members properly of the relevant policies when they were making their decision to grant permission for this inappropriate development."

Planning permission was granted on 2nd April to redevelop the former Empire House into flats, to add balconies and two storeys in height, and to build 8, 7 and 5 storey tower blocks and townhouses next to it, in Essex Place. It was approved despite strong local opposition from residents and others, including Sainsbury’s, who own the adjacent site together with British Land.

The judicial review seeks to challenge Hounslow’s planning decision on several grounds, including the failure of the Officers to properly and fully advise the planning committee on the Council’s own policies relating to height of buildings, employment and office space, heritage assets and the impact on the conservation area and other policies as well as the failure properly to consult.

The recent public meeting heard how the Officer’s report recommending approval had been produced on the last possible day before the planning committee meeting set to consider the application. Furthermore, important documents had been produced and published on the Internet just three working days before the meeting, allowing no proper opportunity for consideration before the meeting. Requests for adjournment of the planning committee meeting at the end of January had been refused.

The residents groups supporting the challenge, include all four neighbouring groups: Friends of Turnham Green, Chiswick High Road Action Group, West Chiswick and Gunnersbury Society and Acton Green Residents’ Association.

Following a recent public meeting, the fundraising campaign hit its original target of £10,000. Legal fees are expected to cost some £35,000 so the fundraising will continue.

Mr. Kverndal, who has lived in Chiswick for 17 years, says that he cares about the local community and is horrified about the prospect of it being "dominated and disfigured" by towering new eight-storey apartment blocks and the additional two storeys added to the unsightly 1960s block (Empire House). He spoke about the matter to The Chiswick Calendar.

More information at

July 18, 2015