Approval Sought for New Chiswick West plans

Developer wants go ahead for scheme whilst appealing against rejection of 28 storey tower


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This Wednesday Councillors will be considering a new application for the controversial 'Chiswick West' site on Chiswick High Road.

The plans comprise a 12, 10 and 8 storey building on the site of the row of shops next to Gunnersbury station, a 6 and 3 storey building on the site of the houses to the West of the John Bull and a 4 storey building to the south.

There would be a total of 273 flats in the new development, mostly one and two bedroom. Of these 37% would be affordable housing. The Council Report on the application states that the application is likely to be rejected unless the developer can show good reason affordable housing does not reach its 50% target.

In all the Council have received 76 letters of objection to the application with one letter of support. Some residents have accused the application of being sloppy in its preparation for instance in the transport assessment the applicant referred to a bus service (H40) that no longer exists, a train service that has been scrapped (Anglia Crosslink) and claimed that the Piccadilly line stopped at Turnham Green at peak hours.

The original application for a 28 storey tower was rejected by SDC and the developers Clifton Cape have appealed. They indicated earlier this year that if West Chiswick and Gunnersbury Society (WGCS) were to drop their opposition to the new development they might withdraw their appeal. WCGS didn't drop the opposition and the appeal is scheduled to be heard in February next year.

The Mayor has apparently lent his support to the developers and has refused to meet with local residents or their representatives to explain why he is in favour of a tall building in a low-rise residential area.

The "New Chiswick West" plans were unveiled at a meeting in an empty shop next door to Gunnersbury station in August. The meeting was later described in the planning application as "public" though it was clearly only open to invited Councillors and WCGS members - Terry Thorn of the WCGS refused to go alone unless the rest of the society were invited as well.

Mr Thorn has also raised concerns about the identity of the applicant. No further information has been made available to residents about the ownership of Clifton Cape. There is some speculation that the company is a front for Aukett Associates, the architectural company that acts on behalf of Clifton Cape. An article in the Investors Chronicle recently seems to suggest that Aukett are having a difficult time. The company reported a £2.5million loss in the latest financial year and its share price has collapsed by 90% over the last three years.

Hounslow Council's Planning Department have also used Aukett Associates as a consultant on the development of the Kew Bridge Site. Mr Thorn is concerned that, despite having a business relationship with Aukett, they are not willing to press them on the identity of Clifton Cape or investigate if the company has acted in a professional manner in their subsequent planning application for the Chiswick West site. He said, "The Planning Department seem unconcerned about these issues despite them being brought to their notice by the West Chiswick and Gunnersbury Society."

The plans are to be put before the Chiswick Area Planning Committee next Wednesday for comment, and the decision to approve or reject will be taken by the Sustainable Development Committee of Hounslow Council, possibly at their meeting on December 23rd.

November 21, 2003