Locals To Back Challenge To Empire House Development

Opposition continues to the scheme on Chiswick High Road

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Chiswick residents are planning to back a challenge to the Empire House and Essex Place development and accuse Hounslow Council of "poor handling" of the planning process for the development.

A spokesman told Chiswickw4.com this weekend that they believed there was every reason that a challenge would succeed and they would back a judicial review on the matter.

“The fact that the whole process has effectively bypassed proper consultation and consideration of the sustainable future of the site and the area around it makes it essential to challenge this application", he said.

We have asked Hounslow Council to comment on the matter and will report their response when we receive it.

The controversial multi-million pound Lend Lease development opposite Turnham Green was opposed by a coalition of residents' groups who argued that the buildings in the scheme were too high, the project was too dense, had too small a proportion of social or affordable housing and that the scheme was not in accordance with the Council's local plan.

The developers Lend Lease have said recently that they had worked extremely hard to ensure the new development was sympathetic to the local environment and to deliver high-quality sustainable homes, together with exceptional open spaces.

A spokesman for a resident's group told chiswickw4.com that there was a feeling that the opinions of local people had been "ignored".

"There has been a sad lack of proper consultation. This has been the case throughout, from the first known meetings between the Council and Lend Lease at the beginning of last year, following which Lend Lease bought the site for £24 million in February last year, to the publication of the Decision Notice for the scheme on Wednesday last week (15th April). The Decision Notice is dated 2nd April and to delay publication on a controversial development like this is inexcusable.”

He said that by the close of the consultation period on the project there had been hundreds of representations against the planning application. Referring to the the Planning Committee meeting last January he said: "It was astonishing to us that the Council Officer’s report could come out in favour of proposals so clearly contrary to Hounslow’s own local development plans. The proposals flew in the face of both the existing Local Plan and the new draft plans that are shortly due to come into force.

"The Officer’s report relied heavily on documents produced that were published just over a week before Hounslow’s planning committee considered the application on 29th January 2015. There was no opportunity to consider those documents and residents’ requests for an opportunity to do so were turned down.

"Those councillors that approved the application accepted the officer’s conclusions that there was no alternative to residential development of the site, despite the fact that this meant, according to the developers, that no more than 11.7% affordable housing would be provided, against Hounslow’s standard of at least 41%.

“The lack of opportunity to consider the last minute evidence and the fact that the conclusions reached in Hounslow’s Officer’s report and accepted by the four councillors that approved this application appear to have been fundamentally flawed, is a matter for serious concern", said the spokesman.

Sainsbury's had also opposed the development as being "incompatible" with their 24 hour depot nearby and said the Lend Lease plan would be detrimental to comprehensive development of its adjacent land, including the large car park outside their store.

The Empire House development is being marketed as the Opus Collection with prices starting at £515,000. Construction on the next phase of the scheme in Essex Place and Acton Lane is expected to start later this year.

The plan is to redevelop the former Empire House into flats, and to build a 7/8 storey tower block and four townhouses in Essex Place, and a 5-storey block on the corner of Essex Place and Acton Lane. Overall the project would create 137 new residential units in Chiswick on the CHR opposite Turnham Green and the two small car parks behind Empire House. The existing office block of Empire House will be enlarged by two further storeys of penthouse apartments to make 13 storeys and protruding balconies.


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

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

April 20, 2015