Image above: Chiswick Flower Market
“Excellent detailed suggestions” from local architects added to the proposals
The Flower Market has published the results of its co-design initiative, asking residents what they thought of proposals to improve the area where markets are held in the centre of Chiswick, and to make suggestions of their own.
Many have taken them up on the offer, including a couple of architects who live locally, who have made “excellent detailed suggestions”, say the flower market team, “which have been integrated into the updated plans”.
The updated proposals have now been submitted to Hounslow Council, to be put out to a wider consultation.
The Chiswick Calendar spoke to landscape architect Luke Greysmith, who designed the proposals, in July. You can read our interview with him outlining the proposals here:
Essentially, it comes down to more flower beds and “rationalising” the layout to make more effective use of the space, so cars can park there but people can also sit there in more attractive surroundings.
At the moment there are crumbling kerbs, broken paving, poor lighting and dilapidated benches, and the place is littered with redundant objects which no longer serve any purpose, such as the empty telephone boxes and broken cobblestones outside the old police station.
Images above: The crumbling infrastructure of the existing car park
Flower Market team want their redesign to be implemented at the same time as the old police station is redeveloped
The police station is about to be redeveloped as living accommodation for older people and the flower market teams hopes that their proposals can be implemented at the same time as the old police station is knocked down and the new development built, giving the whole area outside the shops alongside the George IV pub a new look and feel.
They published their proposals at the beginning of July and since then have been inviting responses, suggestions and criticisms at the flower markets, in social media, and in the local press, with a display also in the library .
The team has received 356 written responses, of which they say the vast majority were very positive.
‘People acknowledged the urgent need for improvement, and 73% requested further greening measures. The proposed rain gardens were the most popular feature, followed by planters and benches.’
Peter Murray OBE, local resident, co-founder of New London Architecture and a former Mayor’s Design Advocate, had this to say:
‘I fully support the Flower Market’s proposals for the improvement of the public space and car parking on Old Market Place.
‘The generous width of Chiswick High Road and the set back of the buildings to its south create what is, in effect, a town square for Chiswick, yet until now little attempt has been made to design an amenable place for people.
‘These well-considered proposals will create a greener space, provide sustainable urban drainage and accommodate the weekly markets while not inconveniencing those who wish to shop by car during the rest of the week.’
Torin Douglas, Director of the Chiswick Book Festival, added:
‘I fully support the Flower Market’s imaginative proposals for improving the public space and car parking on Old Market Place. The markets have transformed life in Chiswick on Sundays but are
hampered and let down by the run-down infrastructure on Chiswick High Road.
‘These well considered proposals will create a greener space, provide sustainable urban drainage and accommodate the weekly markets while not inconveniencing those who wish to shop by car during the rest of the week.
‘At a time when Chiswick’s attractions are increasingly recognised nationally and internationally, in The Times, the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere, these plans would result in major improvements to the area.’
Honor Barratt, Chief Executive, Birchgrove (Redeveloping the old police station site), wrote:
‘Imagine if we actually managed to pull this off; the Old Market Place would genuinely become a community space for future generations in the way it always was for past generations.’
Taking away too much parking?
The proposals have been welcomed by both passers-by and professionals who specialise in urban landscaping, with comments on everything from the seating to the colour of the bricks.
While some said we should do away with parking altogether in the centre of Chiswick, others expressed their concern that the proposals would take away too much parking, which Chiswick Flower Market director Ollie Saunders denies:
‘There was some concern that we are intending to remove all parking places. We are not. The current proposals do, however, suggest a reduction in the number of parking places. Our High Streets have changed.
‘We don’t need to read the research (which we have!) to know that many of us shop online, that many of us have heavy items delivered, that there is a climate and pollution emergency, that there is a biodiversity crisis, that our urban landscape is subject to sudden flooding as rainstorms become fiercer, that trees can help to ease the heat island effect.
‘In order for High Streets to remain relevant and successful, they need to provide a welcoming environment with clean air, safe and pleasant places to sit and meet friends, interesting and useful shops, as well as offering efficient and non-polluting transport solutions.
‘A parking survey will be carried out before any changes are made so that we are not relying on anecdotal evidence to make decisions.’
There were many comments saying the flower market team had been too timid, that the area in front of the old police station would still predominantly be tarmac, and that they should provide more greenery.
‘We have taken this on board’ they say. ‘We also consulted additionally with people with visual impairment and disabilities and have made modifications accordingly.’
Image above: Consulting the Chiswick public at the Flower Market
‘Multifunctional urban design of this quality and inclusivity is rarely seen’
Dr Tilly Collins, FRES, Senior Fellow & Deputy Director, Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London was full of praise for the proposals:
‘The designs for renovating Old Market Place are excellent. These will bring greater biodiversity, provide nature-based ecosystem services and enhance the ways in which the space can be used for residents and visitors. Multifunctional urban design of this quality and inclusivity is rarely seen.’
Marie Rabouhans, Chair, West Chiswick & Gunnersbury Society, who has become an expert in urban development by scrutinising the plans of developers for successive proposals for Chiswick Roundabout, the B&Q site and the M4 corridor through Brentford into Chiswick, had this to say:
‘Looking forward to the improvements to this place in the heart of Chiswick – the greener the better.’
Create Streets, a high-profile independent organisation dealing with the public realm, urban landscapes and place-making, compiled the results of the flower market’s initial consultations with the public.
Throughout the process they have been working in partnership with various departments of the Council, which will now review the proposals and put them out to wider consultation.
Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar