Gunnersbury Triangle Groups Angry Over Mayor's Decision

They say Boris Johnson failed to keep promise on green spaces

Related Links

Local groups campaigning to save the Gunnersbury Triangle Nature Reserve from being impacted by the Colonial Drive development have slammed Mayor Boris Johnson for failing to keep his promise to protect green spaces.

The London Wildlife Trust, which manages the reserve, said that Boris Johnson's decision to allow pro-development Ealing Council determine the outcome was "a blow to local democracy and an error in judgement".

The Chairman of the LWT, Carlo Laurenzi said; " Quite simply, the Mayor has got it wrong".

The LWT has now called on Ealing Council to reconsider the design of the development, and also wants Hounslow Council to try to influence Ealing on the matter.

In his letter dated October 2nd, to Ealing Council, the Mayor stated that having considered a report on the case, he was content to let Ealing Council determine the case itself, and did not wish to direct refusal or to take over the application himself.

In a statement, Mr. Laurenzi said; "Whilst nature conservationists tend to shy away from putting financial value on wildlife habitats, developers know that a residential development site with a view over an attractive woodland, parkland or riverside will be more valuable than one looking over buildings or industrial sites. Developer’s profits on Colonial Drive will come at an unacceptable loss in the quality of experience for visitors to the freely accessible nature reserve, as well as some loss in nesting birds and deterioration in quality of habitats near the new buildings. It is as though part of the value of that natural beauty is being stolen away."

Margaret Berger, chair of the Gunnersbury Triangle Nature Reserve Steering Group said ; “We are all deeply disappointed in the Mayor's decision. We thought he was a champion for green spaces, but sadly not this one. Blackstone's proposals are wholly inappropriate so close to our tiny, but treasured nature reserve. This development is completely out of scale with the trees in the woodland and small terraced houses in the streets nearby. We are well aware that part of the developers' profits will come from exploiting the view over the woodland, but this is at the expense of visitors to the nature reserve who come to enjoy its tranquillity and rural character.”

London Wildlife Trust said that it was no good the developer talking blithely about putting up nest boxes to mitigate the habitat loss;

"The birds which nest along the boundary with the development site are species of scrub and bushy undergrowth, not the built environment. This simply shows how poorly the developer has understood the ecology of this small but precious nature reserve.

"London Wildlife Trust urges Ealing Council to reconsider the design of the development so that it has less impact on Gunnersbury Triangle Nature Reserve and hopes that Hounslow Council use their available resources to influence their neighbouring council to reach the right decision."

The development is opposed by residents, campaign groups, Hounslow Council and conservationists who argued that the proposals were an over-development and would adversely impact on Gunnersbury Triangle Nature Reserve. 

A spokesperson for Hoot,the campaign group against the development said it was "an utter disappointment and particularly from a Mayor who says he wants to protect green spaces."

Commenting on the decision by the Mayor not to use his powers to refuse the application, Chiswick Cllr Peter Thompson commented; “I think that Boris got it wrong on this one. Whilst the planning report recognised the importance of the site and that the development will result in less tranquillity, reduced enjoyment of the reserve and disturbance to the wildlife, it argues that it can be mitigated by a few bat and bird boxes, some new trees and a new full time warden. “

Once the London Borough of Ealing have issued the approval notice the only way to appeal the decision would be a judicial review of the decision, but this can only be done on a point of law.

Ealling Council’s Planning Committee approved the proposal by Blackstone last May for blocks of flats up to eight storeys high (124 in total), together with workspace, a nursery and a footbridge linking the area to Chiswick Business Park across the London Overground railway nearby. Local people had written over 400 letters of objection and a petition was signed by 1,700 people.

Hoot, the campaign group who have several high-profile celebrities on their side, including Rula Lenska and Sir David Bellamy, say that two of the blocks reach right to the edge of the reserve, so that eight-storey buildings with balconies will loom over people walking the nature trail.


October 6, 2012