Bedford Park residents incensed at plans to build ‘three storey house’ in back garden

Image above: Exterior of the proposed structure (by Alice Poole Architects)

Residents of the Bedford Park area and conservationists have reacted angrily to a planning proposal which would see what is effectively a three-storey house erected in the back garden of a property on Woodstock Road.

The application, submitted to LB Ealing’s planning portal on 23 November 2021, requests permission for the construction of a detached ‘studio/garden building’ with basement and roof level accommodation in the rear garden of 7 Woodstock Road. The applicant says the new building would only be of ancillary use to the main dwelling house.

While the application portrays the construction as a kind of artisan summer house, which would be in keeping with the local conservation area, many are concerned the new building is way outside those parameters and grossly breaches conservation guidelines. Opponents have said they are concerned the garden will eventually be divided up and the 105 square metre building will be sold as a separate dwelling.

Image above: exterior and floor plan of the proposed structure (by Alice Poole Architects)

The proposed structure would consist of three floors, including a basement, ground floor and first floor. The ground floor consists of an entrance hallway which leads to a study, a living/ games room, a coats cabinet and two stairways. The stairs to the basement would lead to a small lobby area which would be used to access a wine cellar, a gym and two storage areas. An exterior light well, visible from the gym area, would be built on this level too. The first floor plan includes a landing area, an art studio, a second study, a shower room and access to a roof terrace.

If approved, building is expected to commence in in March 2022 and would be completed by September 2022.

The plans on Ealing’s planning portal have received 57 comments, the vast majority of which are people voicing their objections and concerns about the application. One significant objection comes from The Victorian Society, a conservation group dedicated to the preservation of Victorian architecture, based in Bedford Park, who say the building is more akin to ‘a small domestic building or lodge than a studio’ and recommended that the application be rejected.

Above: existing garden plan (by Alice Poole Architects)

Above: proposed garden plan (by Alice Poole Architects)

Building ‘would harm the conservation area’

Various residents, including  The Bedford Park Society  were concerned with the impact the proposed structure would have on the local conservation area. Some cite previous rejections of proposals which breached the conservation rules in less egregious ways. Others cited environmental concerns claiming the building would contribute to overdevelopment in the area, which Bedford Park is protected against.

In a letter to LB Ealing’s planning committee, Connor McNeill, a Conservation Adviser from The Victorian Society, wrote:

‘The Victorian Society have been notified of this proposal by a concerned member of the public. Having reviewed the application we object. Bedford Park is a highly significant area as evinced by its designation as a Conservation Area and the high level of statutory listed buildings within it. This is due to its historical associations as the world’s first garden suburb, and design as a development for artists and aesthetes in reaction to the supposed vulgarity of high Victorian taste.’

Connor added:

‘The Society recognise the presence of historic studios within the grounds of many of the properties in Bedford Park, and the more recent development of new buildings in this idiom. However, this is not a justification for this proposal which would harm the significance and character of the Conservation Area, and Queen Anne Gardens in particular.’

An objection from a resident living at 14 Woodstock Road resident read:

‘Bedford Park is a conservation area, and in the fifty years I’ve lived here most residents have accepted the limitations on development that involves – conservatories and basements have been turned down, and my neighbours have been denied the chance to turn part of their front gardens into off street parking.’

The full list of comments are available here: ealing.gov.uk/online-applications

Local councillor says plans are ‘unlikely to be approved’ but ‘compromise could be made’

Councillor for Chiswick Southfield, Andrew Steed, told The Chiswick Calendar he expects the application will be rejected when it is considered by an Ealing planning committee.

“It’s my understanding, and I’m using quite careful words here, that application would not be agreed to by the council. So in effect, informally, they’ve gone back and said ‘this isn’t going to pass'”.

“The trouble is, and this is one of the problems with planning rules and regulations. The application itself still stands, and if between the developer and the local planning authority they come up with a compromise [in order for the application to be approved]”.

Cllr Steed said though the compromise would have to be “pretty big” for the application to be accepted.

“Because this would be agreed, if you like, behind closed doors – nobody would be sure what the end result will be” he added.

In some cases the applicant is told to withdraw the application and make a new one, which Andrew said he thought preferable because at least then any new application would make its way onto the planning portal and would see the same level of scrutiny as the current proposals.

“There is an element, if they don’t do that, you’re losing the whole notion of transparency and what the planning portal is there for in the first place.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Residents’ group objects to Lisa Armstrong’s plans to build in her back garden

See also: Riverside residents campaign to prevent luxury houses being built on the ‘functional floodplain’

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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