Councillors Support Campaign To Save Chiswick Pavements

Join with residents to demand Council stop plans to resurface with tarmac


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Chiswick Councillors have supported local residents in their call on Hounslow Council to suspend plans to replace local slab pavements with asphalt. They want the work, which is due to start on February 7th, halted pending discussions with residents and local representatives.

A meeting of the Chiswick Area Forum (Jan 22) was attended by a large group of concerned residents from the affected area. This comprises a number of streets surrounding Foster Road, known as the Devonhurst Estate. They heard that it was unlikely that any money could be made from available from S106 funds to change the current situation.

A view of Foster Road

Councillors criticised the Council's plans as a "misguided policy which might scar the Edwardian area street scene." The project, which forms part of the 25-year plan to upgrade and maintain public highways and footpaths in the borough, is due to start in Foster Road, with Hadley Gardens, Alwyn Avenue and Wavendon Avenue to follow.

The deputy leader of Hounslow Council, Cllr Colin Ellar last week blamed a 30% government cutback in funding for the decision to start using tarmac but said that it was possible local monies could be found in Chiswick to keep the slab paving if councillors wished to do so. He said in his statement that "the local area forums have the opportunity to invest money into paving slabs for their residents, should they wish to do so."

Local residents told the CAF meeting that while some of the pavements were in need of repair, they did not need to be totally replaced and they were all completely against the use of tarmac. They were also seeking assurances that trees would not be cut down without good reason. They estimated that it would cost about £60,000 to cover the cost of the difference between using paving slabs and asphalt in their streets and asked if any monies were available from local S106 funds.

Cllr Robert Oulds, Chairman of the CAF, said he had looked into it, and at best the S106 funding totalled £44,000 which would not go far. The best they could do was ask Cllr Ellar to “think again” though he had indicated he was “ loathe to suspend” any PFI works.

An example of the type of pavement residents do not want in Chiswick

The idea of having the area declared a Conservation Area and thus exempt from the use of tarmac was discussed but the meeting heard that this was a lengthy process and the first works were already scheduled for early February.

Cllr Paul Lynch said one difficulty with using the S106 funding would be that other projects would then lose out. It would be an unusual use of this money.

(Under S106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, as amended, contributions can be sought from developers towards the costs of providing community and social infrastructure, the need for which has arisen as a result of a new development taking place.)

Cllr Sam Hearn said that once that £60,000 had been spent, what would happen about other roads. He was not keen on a short term solution. He felt Cllr Ellar had made a “big mistake”.

Mr. Trevor Wallis, PFI ( Private Finance Initiative) Project Director said the marginal cost of replacing the asphalt with slab was £13 per square metre. He said the decision was a consequence of the 30% reduction in the Council grant to £350 million.

Cllr Adrian Lee said there was a “sword of Damocles” hanging over Chiswick with the tar bucket about to arrive. He suggested a central Chiswick Residents group should be formed to make the area from Sutton Lane north to Dukes Avenue, including the Glebe Estate, into a Conservation area. “Chiswick has to be united in its opposition to this. Its our community and we are totally opposed to Hounslow Council and its diktats.”

Cllr John Todd said it had never been explicitly stated in the Council plans that paving would be changed to tar and asked when the final decision had been made.

Mr. Wallis said that decision was taken in March 2012 and pressed by Cllr Todd, he agreed that they “probably” should have issued more public information on the matter. In answer to several questions about the removal of trees, he said tree roots would only be removed if they were “dangerous", not because they were "difficult”.

He said repairs were very inefficient and their plan was to carry out work that would have a 25-year lifespan.

The motion, calling on the Council to suspend the planned works pending talks on the matter with local residents and councillors, was proposed by Cllr Lee and seconded by Cllr Samantha Davies and carried unanimously.

Following the meeting, a spokesman for the residents said they were "absolutely united against asphalt pavements and the destruction of our leafy canopy."

"We are determined that LBH must reconsider its plans and give our distinctive Edwardian streets the quality of paving and canopy preservation they richly deserve. Therefore having made our protest very loud and very clearly - we are confident our elected local officials will represent our protest at the Borough Council meeting on Tuesday 29th Jan and that Councillor Ellar and our Council Leader, Councillor Sharma and CEO Mary Harpley will demonstrate by their actions in the next few days their acceptance of our protest and find the funds to do the job properly - using block paving stones, retaining the granite kerbstones and protecting our leafy canopy.

"Managing the trees well is an enormous challenge for the Council and the Contractor. In many cases it is their roots that are causing so much damage to the pavements and yet we love them and don't want to lose them - that's the quandry. We were very pleased to hear that the council will bring in highly experienced arboriculturalists to advise on good management practice."

Residents will review the Council's proposals and make a decision on how to proceed at the next Committee meeting.

January 23, 2013

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