Development For Former BT Site 'Too Tall'

Local group says Wheatstone House adding to area congestion

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Wheatstone House

Artists impression of the development courtesy of Telereal

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The West Chiswick and Gunnersbury Society (WCGS) has criticised the plans for the redevelopment of the former BT offices at Wheatstone House saying that the proposal for residential units is "too tall".

Telereal Trillium has submitted a planning application for the redevelopment of Wheatstone House, the former BT offices near Chiswick roundabout.

The proposed plans for the Chiswick High Road site include 95 residential units, including affordable housing, as well as 460 square metres of commercial retail or office space.

The Society points out that with the Brentford Football Stadium proposing residential development in the area, there is a movement towards high-level housing.

Situated on the main thoroughfare between Chiswick and Brentford town centres, the site has been unused since it was vacated by BT in 2009.

Here is a condensed version of the WCGS response on the issue:

Density/Quality of accommodation  While we have no objection in principle to a residential-led mixed use redevelopment, we are concerned to ensure that the development falls within the appropriate density range set out in the London Plan and that its location does not result in poor quality of homes due to proximity to a major road network.

In addition impact on road traffic and pedestrian access/experience around this very busy road junction needs to be considered.

Design/Height/massing The existing building is a robust and not unattractive early 1950s building of good quality materials (brick and stone) with generously sized window openings. It provides a continuous street frontage, stepping down at the front and provides a comfortable degree of enclosure to the street. The building is not overdominant in the street scene and respects views into and out of as well as the setting of the adjacent Conservation Area. Any replacement building should be of the same or a higher quality of design and materials.

We have serious concerns that the U-shape of the upper floors of the proposed building removes the continuous street frontage above first floor level to Chiswick High Road and creates two large blocks running perpendicular to it. This is not characteristic of the townscape in Chiswick High Road and will damage the character and appearance of the streetscene.

We consider that the proposed development is too tall. The building needs to provide a transition between the scale of development along the A4 and that along Chiswick High Road which is much lower. Stepping down from 7 to 5 to 3 storeys would be more acceptable than the 9, 7, 5 proposed in view of the development's location close to the residential and retail/residential Victorian properties within the Wellesley Road CA on the opposite side of the Chiswick High Road. The 8th and 9th storeys appear excessive in views from the west from Kew Bridge and Chiswick High Road, creating a top heavy and overbearing appearance.

The impact on views out of and within the Wellesley Road and Kew Bridge Conservation Areas, particularly those from the section of Chiswick High Road west of Chiswick Roundabout and from Clarence Road should be thoroughly assessed in the design and access statement.

Cumulative impact/infratructure/precedent We are concerned that the proposals for the residential elements of the Brentford Football Stadium scheme on Lionel Road site are leading to proposals for inappropriately tall buildings at neighbouring sites. The cumulative impact of all these developments in terms of infrastructure is also of major concern to the Society.

The developer should make a contribution towards local health and education services given the additional demand that this development will create. The opportunity for extra street tree planting on Chiswick High Road around the development site should be investigated in order to create a more pleasant residential environment.


4 October, 2013