25 storey ‘monster tower’ planned for Chiswick

July 13, 2020/ by Matt Smith

Image above: red blocks represent the building proposals put forward by developers, the first five on the left are next to Bollo Lane

Transport for London has applied for planning permission to create a 25 storey ‘monster tower’ next to the Bollo Lane railway crossing in Chiswick.

The plans involve the building of ‘200 new affordable market dwellings’ in the form of five giant residential tower blocks – which will be 3, 14, 15, 18 and 25 storeys respectively.

More than 150 complaints have been lodged by locals who claim that if even one tower is given the green light then this will set a precedent for the approval of similar tower blocks, forever changing Chiswick’s skyline.

‘A disaster waiting to happen’

Leana Pooley lives nearby on Saville Road. She is one of many people who have officially complained on Ealing Council’s website and feels that the tower block plans are a disaster waiting to happen.

‘With the blackened skeleton of Grenfell Tower looming on our horizon to the east, it seems as if nothing has been learnt from that disaster. Tall tower blocks work well for prosperous inhabitants who can afford 24-hour concierges and constant expensive maintenance work on lifts and building fabric.

‘Tall tower blocks are disastrous for less well-off inhabitants, which is why they have all but one been demolished on the South Acton estate. The last one, Jerome Tower, will be demolished within the next two years. Those who lived in the Acton tower blocks talked of living in sordid surroundings, of lifts which constantly broke down and of a depressing lack of maintenance. This is what Transport for London are proposing for Bollo Lane!

‘The visual impact of all five towers will be devastating. Number 100 Bollo Lane is bad enough – squat and unattractive. The fact that its tenants have to walk to and from the building over railway lines gives some clue to their lowly status. What a cold-hearted way to develop a building.’

Image above: The ruins of Grenfell tower in the distance

Ealing council “won’t take any notice”

Rod Baker, a long-time resident of Chiswick, is one of many outspoken critics and is part of a group of residents resisting the proposals in their current form. He is frustrated by Ealing Council. Speaking to The Chiswick Calendar he said:

“As far as the Bollo Lane scheme goes, I think it’s a brilliant scheme but the three buildings at the south end of the site are far too big.”

“We all objected very strongly to the tower built opposite many years ago. When that one when it was originally planned, the planners had their site inspection and there were about 50 of us down there lobbying them to no avail. And I suspect the same thing is going to happen here, they’re not doing site inspections now anyway but the way things are going with the Ealing planning department they won’t take any notice to any local objections anyway.”

Another tower, initially planned to be 25-storeys but was reduced to 22, has been planned around the corner from Bollo Lane on Stanley Road, much to the anger of locals.

“The one in Stanley Road, which is a ridiculous stand-alone thing right next to another tower block – which I might add they spent years consulting with the public about and developed a very good scheme, of moderate height, which worked out extremely well”.

“The South Acton industrial estate, on which this new building is proposed to be put, is a very small site and it will be completely overshadowing the allotments nearby and the allotment people say that apparently it’s going to block out their light for quite a few hours of the day and will seriously affect the productivity of the allotments”.

“That application went into Ealing in December and as a result of the groundswell of public opinion against it, the application was withdrawn towards the end of January”.

“The chair of the allotments committee has been in direct contact with the developers and hasn’t been getting very good responses back from them. Apparently they’ve made some amendments to their scheme but nothing to address the height issues”.

The Stanley Road planning application, made by Henley Investments, was met with fierce opposition and was withdrawn. Opponents think it is likely be resubmitted in the coming weeks, albeit with minor changes.

Images above: The developer’s graphic of the 22-storey tower planned for Stanley Road, An artist’s impression of what the new skyline might look like.

The sky’s the limit

There have been several recent planning applications made across west London for skyscraper tower blocks.

From Ealing Broadway to Southall to Acton, dozens of huge tower blocks are planned across several boroughs and opponents fear they will permanently alter the lives of people around them.

‘Red Block Rebels’ is a campaign group fighting against over-development in Ealing. In a video on their YouTube channel, they say that:

“Developers will exploit our leafy suburb in one of the most aggressive building plans in London. The result? A rash of tall buildings across the borough designed to maximise developer profit while delivering few of the homes Ealing’s families need.”

Images above: Red blocks represent the building proposals put forward by developers in Ealing

A councillor’s perspective

Andrew Steed is the councillor for Southfield ward. He has a number of questions that have gone unanswered by the developers, and worries about the impact the towers will have on his constituency.

“As one of the three Southfield Councillors, the southern part of Bollo Lane is in our ward, and clearly the development will impact on the Acton Green area.

“The various towers, up to 25 storeys, will change the landscape of the area. Does the developer really need to build such tall buildings? Over 800 new homes will also change the character of the area. Will the ‘affordable housing’ really be affordable?
“Ultimately it will not be the local planning authority who will grant or refuse this application-it will either be the Mayor of London or the Secretary of State: local residents and their elected representatives will have little or no say.”
Andrew told The Chiswick Calendar he had obtained figures from Ealing Council’s Statistics and Performance officer Caroline Caldwell which show that a staggering amount of planning decisions are taken out of the hands of local councils.

In the the three years from 2017 – 2020, only 102 decisions have been made by the Planning Committee, compared with 7,308 decisions which were referred upward to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

“Local authority planning committees make very few decisions. I think most people are not aware of how few decisions are made by their Planning Committee”.

Prime Minister promises further deregulation of planning laws

At the end of June the Prime Minister gave a speech in which he promised further deregulation of planning laws. Builders will not need planning permission in order to demolish commercial or residential properties, so long as they are going to be rebuilt into residential premises, and it will be easier to convert existing vacant premises into residential spaces.

“Time is money, and the newt-counting delays in our system are a massive drag on the productivity and the prosperity of this country” he said.

If you’d like to make a comment about the planning application on Bollo Lane, please follow the link below:

pam.ealing.gov.uk/online-applications

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Who has control over planning decisions?

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