32-Storey Chiswick Curve Would 'Harm' Heritage Assets

The Public Inquiry into the controversial development starts

The Chiswick Curve from Strand on the Green The Chiswick Curve from Strand on the Green


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Chiswick Skyscraper Plan For Thirty-Two Storeys with 'Poor Doors'

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The 32-storey Chiswick Curve would be like an 'alien' structure and would have a hugely harmful effect on important heritage and Conservation Area sites such as Kew Gardens and Strand on the Green, the opening day of the Public Inquiry was told last Tuesday (12 June).

Submissions were heard from Kew Gardens, The Kew Society, and Hounslow Council against the project proposed by Starbones for Chiswick roundabout, at the opening session of the Inquiry at Brentford Free Church. The Inquiry is expected to last four weeks.

Barrister Russell Harris, for the appellant Starbones, was first to speak and said that the fact that a building was tall did not mean it caused harm. There were other buildings and structures which could be seen from Kew Botanical Gardens, including Brentford FC and Wembley Stadium.

Referring to the Strand on the Green conservation area, he said this was best experienced within the area itself, and none of this charm and character would be affected by the proposed dwelling as it (the Curve) was significantly beyond the conservation area and on the M4 corridor.

In terms of Kew Green, to describe it as an English village green was inaccurate - "It is not Finchingfield and it is not good planning to pretend it is."

The public benefits of the proposal should be weighted against the 'harm' suggested. To suggest that the significance of a World Heritage Site would be reduced was 'overblown and inappropriate' and similarly ' unsubstantial' where Strand on the Green and Kew Green were concerned he said.

A spokesman for the Kew Society said that local people had to co-exist 24/7 with the impact of this development if consent was given. It was extreme overdevelopment of a tiny site, its design was inappropriate and would have an adverse impact. Apart from the heritage impact the Society would also focus on the negative impact on air quality, traffic, and environmental health issues.

Richard Ground, barrister for Hounslow Council described the Curve as "an alien, incongruous and intrusive building" and said there was no doubt it would harm valuable heritage assets, which should be safeguarded and passed on for the next generation.

He referred to Government, Planning laws, the Local Plan and Mayoral requirements relating to the conservation of heritage assets and to the impact of tall buildings on their environment.

The appellant was "in a minority of one in thinking that putting a tower behind Kew Gardens is a benefit to the historic assets."

Kew Gardens submitted that while were were outside features, such as local tower blocks which had a negative impact on views within the Gardens, the inclusion of the 32-storey Curve would further increase the visual intrusion. For the appellant to suggest that there were other developments in the area in the pipeline and that change coming to the area was inevitable, was wrong.

World Heritage Sites, of which there were only four in London ( including Kew) were of such importance that there was an obligation on the Government to protect them. UNESCO at its meeting in Paris, has endorsed the opposition to the project and supports the Kew Gardens position, the hearing was told.

Marie Rabouhans, chair of the West Chiswick & Gunnersbury Society has appealed for local residents to set time aside to turn up saying that our "precious heritage" is at risk if the development goes ahead.

To that end, The Chiswick Calendar has set up a rota to which people can sign up anonymously, so that it can be seen that members of the public are present to show that there is public interest in the matter. She said: "Please attend as much of the Inquiry as you can; your support is especially requested when the Society and other resident groups speak on Day 7* (Thursday 21 June) and for the Closing submissions on Day 13* (Wednesday 4 July). "

For week two, Hounslow Council, with a full legal team and expert witnesses, will present its case for turning the application down.

This will be followed by the Rule Six parties, including Historic England, The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, and the Kew Society. The local groups, including the West Chiswick & Gunnersbury Society (WCGS), Strand on the Green Residents Association, will then have an opportunity to put their case.

Starbones, the appellant, will present its case in the third week, followed by the closing submissions in week Four. There are two parts to the appeal, the first is against the planning refusal, and the second is against refusal for the advertising.

A view from the A4
A view from the A4 of rejected scheme

The appeal will be decided by Inspector Paul Griffiths and a report will be compiled for the Secretary of State.

June 16, 2018

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