'Empire House' Challenge Postponed Until September

Campaigners will be heard after the summer

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The challenge brought by local resident Simon Kverndal QC against the Lend Lease development of Empire House and Essex place was adjourned until September in the High Court today.

Following a short hearing, the judge decided that as it was a complex case involving " substantive planning issues", it needed more than the time allocated. She postponed the next hearing until September.

Mr Kverndal and his supporters were seeking permission for a judicial review of Hounslow Council’s granting of planning permission to the development. The claim is that the decision was unlawful because of the failure of Officers to properly consult and their failure to take into account and apply important local planning policies.

The development consists of 72 residential units, including affordable homes, in Essex Place and Acton Lane. The Empire House tower block is currently being refurbished from office to residential, on sale as The Opus Collection, with new retail frontage of seven units planned below.

The Judicial Review application being taken by Simon Kverndal QC, is supported by local lawyers and four residents’ groups, challenging the legality of the planning decision.

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.

The challenge is based on the following:

- Height of buildings – Local policies are against tall buildings in this area and there is a long standing aspiration to get rid of Empire House.

- Employment – The local plan site designation for this site provided for mainly continued employment uses such as offices or hotel space.

- Heritage - The proposed development will cause irreparable harm to the Turnham Green Conservation area.

- Housing - The development seeks to get round Hounslow’s policies on affordable housing by claiming the right to develop Empire House with no affordable housing contribution and the remainder of the site with only a fraction of the 41% affordable housing target. The result is just 11% affordable housing. All this is based on claims as to viability of the project based on calculations that have not been disclosed.

- Consultation – Officers recommended approval of this development despite strong opposition from the overwhelming majority of respondents to consultation. There were comprehensive objections from residents, residents’ groups and Sainsbury’s who own the adjoining superstore and car park together with British Land. These were ignored. In a final blow, the Council refused to allow time to examine and respond to a substantial amount of important documentation put in at the last minute, well after the consultation period was over.


July 28, 2015