Brentford Project tower blocks recommended for approval by planners

Image above: digital rendering of the south-western seven storey block

Over 300 new homes would be build if scheme is approved

Four new tower blocks in Brentford ranging from three to eleven storeys, a total of 333 residential units, are being recommended for approval by LB Hounslow planners, overriding objections from conservationists.

As a major part of the Brentford Project, the blocks, if the planners’ recommendation is approved by councillors, would also provide commercial space, associated car and cycle parking. Developers say there woould be appropriate  landscaping, amenity space and ancillary development.

Ten three-storey townhouses would be provided on the north-eastern side of the site off of Pump Alley. The northern block fronting the high street would step up behind the townhouses from six to eight storeys.

Block D, to the rear of the High Street frontage would be 11 storeys, the highest building on site. The south-western block would be seven storeys with a set-back eighth storey. The south-eastern block would be seven storeys on the southern end, and six storeys on the northern end.

The scheme would provide 100 new’ affordable homes’ and would ‘comprehensively redevelop’ the site, making what planners describe as ‘best use’ of the land. LB Hounslow’s planning officers say the scheme would be consistent with the objectives of Hounslow’s Development Plan to deliver regeneration and housing, especially affordable housing, and to optimise use of such sites focusing growth at sustainable locations with good transport accessibility.

They say the development would bring substantial benefits’ to the environmental, social and economic well-being of Brentford, including a significant level of new housing, including affordable housing, as well as regeneration of the site, significant landscaping and enhancement of the public realm.

Images above: aerial view of proposed site; view from south courtyard towards Brentford Dock

Blocks would add to “cumulative harm” to views, say Kew Gardens

Conservationists are worried about the development, saying it would impact views at Kew Gardens, a World Heritage Site. Planners admit views would be impacted but at a ‘low level’. They say this would be outweighed by benefits and claim overall the proposal is a net gain for the area.

Kew Gardens have objected to the planning application, saying they had two principle areas of concern: harm to the immediate setting of Kew Palace and harm to views from Syon Park Lawn vista. Responding to LB Hounslow’s consultation, a representative of Kew Gardens said:

‘[The] proposed development is higher by at least a storey than the prevailing townscape of other recently consented schemes shown on the image, namely the Morrisons and Ballymore developments, which are of a consistent height.

‘These two developments are themselves a significant intensification on the previous townscape and this increase in height and visibility will add further cumulative harm to the setting of this highly sensitive Grade I listed building.’

On concerns regarding views from Syon Park, the representative added:

‘[The] view from Syon Lawn is of particular importance and Historic England has described its significance in their advice to [LB Hounslow]. Here the tallest part of the proposed development is higher than the prevailing townscape as defined by the Morrisons and Ballymore developments.

‘Tree screening is thin on the Brentford bank (compared to the screening to Syon Park) with a single tree concealing the tallest part of the proposed development. Overall the effect would be to add to the cumulative harm to this view through the hardening and urbanising of the Thames landscape as seen from Syon Lawn.’

Images above: outlines of consented developments in Brentford

Harm could be ‘reduced or removed’ by lowering height of 11 storey tower, say GLA

The Greater London Authority appeared ambivolent about the plans, but suggested the 11 storey building might be lowered:

‘Any harm is likely to be at the low end of less than substantial; however, considering the importance of the heritage asset, very great weight should be given to its conservation. Harm could be reduced or removed by lowering the height of the 11 storey building. The harm will need to be weighed against the secured public benefits of the proposal at the Mayor’s decision making stage.’

Historic England, the public body that looks after England’s historic environment, echoed Kew’s objections:

‘The proposals concern sensitive views from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew World Heritage site and the Arcadian quality of its setting. The proposed development would result in increased prominence of urban development and perception of the outside world, harming the contribution made by setting to the Outstanding Universal Value of the gardens. Policy establishes a strong presumption against any harm. We therefore recommend that changes are sought to ensure that any harm is avoided.’

A LB Hounslow planning committee will decide on the application on Wednesday 28 September. The application reference is P/2022/1142.

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