Sainsbury's Aim to Block Lend Lease Development

Say development of car park 'an emerging policy requirement of the Council'

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Sainsbury's is opposing Lend Lease's plans for a major development on Chiswick High Road arguing that it would prevent a comprehensive development of the whole area. They are indicating that they may ultimately want to put forward a much larger scheme for the area which would include the car park outside the store.

In 2012 plans emerged which showed that a scheme was being considered which would have seen the large Sainsbury's supermarket move from its current location to have its main entrance on Chiswick High Road opposite Turnham Green. This site is currently part of Lend Lease's proposal.

The site around the Sainsbury's car park would then be turned into a mixed use development comprised of apartments, retail and commercial premises.

Sainsbury's will oppose the Lend Lease application, which goes before Hounslow Planning Committee this week. A letter sent to the Council by Indigo, a planning consultancy representing Sainsbury's states that it is concerned about "the piecemeal nature of the proposed development" which is "premature and prejudices the comprehensive development of the whole site, including the Sainsbury’s store and car park, which is an emerging policy requirement of the Council."

The Planning Committee meeting will take place on January 29th at the Hounslow Civic Centre at 7.30pm. It is understood a senior member of Sainsbury's staff will attend the meeting to speak against the proposal.

It is also concerned it will have a "detrimental impact" on the operation of its store.

In their objections to the scheme Sainsbury's says that there are "clear conflicts that arise from this proposed residential development in close proximity to an operational foodstore".

It says it is concerned about the potential for complaints about noise from residents living near its service yard, and the lack of provision for parking in the development leading to on-street parking to the detriment of the store.

It is not known what Sainsbury's future plans might be for the site it owns jointly with property investment company British Land. The site runs from the back of the Empire House development to the railway line and includes both the supermarket site and car park - the latter is subject to a covenant with Hounslow Council but only in relation to charges for parking. It is understood that Sainsbury's do not believe that the covenant would prevent them developing the site.

Sainsbury's objections to the Lend Lease application have been lodged with the Council's Planning Officer. The supermarket argues that the Council's Local Plan 'Site Allocations Topic Paper' notes that the residential capacity should be restricted to 35 units and that "careful consideration should be given to a holistic approach to ensure the Sainsbury’s site . . . can be integrated in the future.”

It says that this plan "rather clumsily seeks to promote even more residential in close proximity to the Sainsbury’s store at the expense of the current operation and future comprehensive development opportunities."

"We consider this not only to be in conflict with existing policy but also the ambition of emerging policy."

The supermarket's argument is that by agreeing to the Lend Lease project, the Council would in effect be going against its own policies on development as contained in its draft Local Plan.

The site allocation policy in the Council’s revised Local Plan was submitted at the end of August 2014 and the target for adoption is March 2015.  There is a meeting to discuss this particular Site Allocation on 5th March.

Hounslow's Planning Officers are recommending acceptance of the Lend Lease plan. Their report does not find the extra two storeys added onto Empire House to be too high or the proposed balconies to be too protruding, as local residents' groups had claimed. At least three local groups have criticised the Lend Lease plan as "overdevelopment" in a Conservation area.

However Council planning officials do not share that view. The Council report recommending approval of the Lend Lease application remarks: "The combination of the buildings creates a new sense of place, bringing and linking Essex Place into the High Road. The same post-modern contemporary style has been approved at the Acton Lane site."

Aerial view from over Turnham Green looking across at development on site of Sainsbury's car park from the plans revealed in 2012

Lend Lease propose to redevelop the former Empire House into flats, and to build a seven and eight-storey tower block and four townhouses in Essex Place, and a 5-storey block on the corner of Essex Place and Acton Lane. It has submitted plans to create 137 new dwellings in the middle of Chiswick High Road opposite Turnham Green and in the two small car parks behind Empire House. The existing office block of Empire House is to be enlarged by two further storeys of penthouse apartments to make 13 storeys and protruding balconies.

Opposition to the Lend Lease development on Chiswick High Road has grown in recent months with one local group describing it as "the biggest backward step for this area of Chiswick" for over fifty years and another stating that “if Hounslow Council was to grant planning permission for this development it would be driving a coach and horses through its own planning policies.”

Drawing of Empire House building on High Road from Lend Lease scheme

The Chiswick High Road Action Group (CHRAG) has published its objections to the scheme. Other local groups have also criticised the scheme as currently proposed for being 'too high' and not providing enough amenity space. Some critics of the development have said that unpopular aspects of the project have been "buried" in the detail of words, diagrams and drawings.

January 25, 2015

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