Anger as Approval Recommended for Riverside Housing Plan

Residents call for more time to exam reassessed flood risk

Developer's visualisation of the houses. Picture: Pilbrow and Partners


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There has been an angry response to a report by Hounslow Council planners that approval should be granted to build on a garden by the river in Chiswick.

The scheme at 17 Hartington Road would see four new houses built by the Thames in the property’s large garden but local residents claim that an error has been made in the classification of the flood risk at the property and are demanding more time to allow the plan to be scrutinised.

The planners’ report states, “The proposed dwellings and associated landscaping and access proposals have been assessed on their visual amenity, impact on neighbouring properties, quality of accommodation, sustainability credentials, ecological impact, and flood risk and land stability implications and it has been concluded that subject to appropriate safeguarding conditions the application would meet the intent of Local Plan policies and be an acceptable form of development.”

A total of 83 objections were received to the plan, which has been submitted by Richmond based Developers Residence One (Hartington Ltd), after consultation letters were sent to 75 neighbouring households. Representations were also received from the Kew Society and Chiswick Staithe Ltd.

Many of the objections related to flood risk and subsidence with concerns about impermeable hard surfacing replacing grass, possible damage to underground springs/streams and the loss of mature trees/vegetation and climate change.

It is pointed out that the address has been identified as an area subject to a high risk from surface water flooding in a recent report by Hounslow Council and the development would increase the risk.

Initially, an in-principle objection was made by the Environment Agency (EA) on the basis that part of the site was categorised as Flood Zone 3b which would have made it liable to flooding. Non-essential development in areas classified this way would not normally be allowed. However, after discussions with Hounslow planning officers the EA was persuaded to change the designation to Flood Zone 3b because flood defences which protected the area were not taken into the account.

Even with the reduced flood risk categorisation, developments are subject to an exception test if proposed in such areas and have to show that ‘reasonably available sites’ with a lower risk of flooding that can be used to accommodate the proposed development, taking account of sustainability objectives and housing delivery. Hounslow’s planners say that they need to give approval to the project to ensure housing targets are met whereas opponents of the scheme point out that the borough is already well above its housebuilding target and the four extra houses would not have a material impact on the total.

The No Garden Grab group which is a collection of residents in the area opposed to the scheme are furious that details of why the decision to reclassify the flood risk of the site have only just emerged before Christmas. This gives them little opportunity to plan a response with the application likely to be considered at a borough planning meeting on 6 January. The group says that the complexity and technical details in new documentation recently submitted in connection with the application requires more time to be scrutinised properly and legal advice obtained. The groups says that it is sceptical that the company who made the original flood risk assessment, Metis Consultants would have simply ignored the presence of flood risk defences.

Top map shows the Fluvial/Tidal Flood Risk Zone designation for the bottom of back garden of 17 Hartington Road as 3b. The map below shows the surface water flood risk Zone as 3a for the same area of the site

A member of the group says, “We feel this application is being railroaded through without allowing time for independent scrutiny of the developer’s proposals and is extremely unsafe. The re-designation of the site as 3a as a result of pressure from developers needs to be scrutinised more closely. The idea that Metis Consultants made a mistake in designating it 3b sounds very unlikely. Why doesn't the planning officer publish their full response in his appendix as he has done with the EA? The extract that he has included from Metis shows that they have put in a lot of caveats - conditions which in our flood consultant's and lawyer's view have not been met. They are a reputable company that advise a number of London boroughs on flood risk. The idea that they were not aware of the flood defences along this stretch of the Thames is just not credible.”

Metis were unable to comment because its office is closed for Christmas.

A petition has been started online against the scheme and it has already been signed by over 200 people including Jonathon Porritt, veteran environmental campaigner and former director of Friends of the Earth who said, “It goes on, day after day, community by community: an inexorable war of attrition against the natural world at the hands of local developers. They often claim that they will ensure a ‘net gain’ for biodiversity in the process - but more often than not, this is a complete sham. We all have a duty to help hold the line against this mindless destruction.”

The planning reference is P/2021/2827. You can make comment online at or email

For further information about the campaign against the proposal

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December 26, 2021

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