Council approves plan to ‘reimagine’ Chiswick town centre

Image above: Chiswick High Rd

‘Ambitious, collaborative, interventionist approach’ – Steve Curran

Hounslow Council has approved a report which calls for a ‘reimagining’ of the borough’s town centres: Chiswick, Brentford, Hounslow and Feltham.

The report, commissioned by LB Hounslow as part of its Recovery Plan to address the impact of the pandemic, sets out an ‘ambitious, collaborative, interventionist approach’ according to Council Leader Steve Curran, building on the ‘unique qualities’ of each town centre.

‘Hounslow’s town centres and neighbourhood parades have been severely impacted by the pandemic’ said Cllr Curran. ‘The impact of the pandemic has exacerbated and accelerated pre-pandemic trends such as a shift to on-line shopping and a demand for an experiential shopping experience’.

What the Council was trying to do, he said, was to create plans which would enable the borough’s town centres to ‘evolve, thrive and innovate in order to meet current and future challenges’.

Image above: Chiswick Post Office

Redevelopment of the Post Office Delivery Office

In Chiswick, ‘example projects might include’ a plan to ‘bring forward redevelopment of the Post Office Delivery Office on Barley Mow Passage as a high quality, mixed use development with community uses on ground floor’.

The report, by architects Allies and Morrison, transport planning consultants Urban Flow and commercial real estate agents Avison Young, does not specify whether a Post Office and a Delivery Office would remain as part of those ‘community uses’.

Other example projects suggested for Chiswick include ‘selectively adding storeys to some one or two storey shops on the High Rd where appropriate’ and to ‘bring forward redevelopment of sites, making best use of available space to create compact but high quality buildings and spaces that add to the character of the town centre.’

Image above: Chiswick Town Hall

Making better use of the town hall

The report also talks about investing in green and recreation spaces with ‘green routes’ between them and ‘making best use of civic buildings’ – the town hall and the library – ‘to deliver enhanced services and play a bigger role in the town centre.’

Examples of this ‘bigger role’ were ‘affordable workspace and ‘community space for hire’ and well as a ‘programme of events etc.’

Image above: Turnham Green in spring

Making more use of Turnham Green

Turnham Green is regularly rented out to George Irvine’s funfair but organisers of community activities such as Super Saturday of Sport have found that they were not allowed to have music as part of daytime activities on the Green.

The report proposes a programme of community-led events and festivals, noting the need to ‘prepare a strategy for place-based events and activities, such as overcoming barriers to using Turnham Green as a hosting site.’

Addressing the issue of empty shop fronts, on its to-do list is: ‘Commission local competitions for window displays and exhibitions in vacant shopfronts’ and ‘Work with landowners to manage vacancies and where appropriate, repurpose space into business use.’

Image above: Graphic from the ‘Reimagining our town centres’ report  by Allies and Morrison, Urban Flow and Avison Young, showing Chiswick High Rd

Chiswick will continue to be an attractive and desirable place to live and visit. Its existing choice of shops, places to work, eat, drink and be entertained will be strengthened and offer choice for all age groups.

Outlining its vision for Chiswick, it says:

‘Chiswick High Road will be a welcoming, safe and healthy environment, hosting events, markets and connected to well used green spaces…’

The report highlights some key ‘spatial priorities’ which could be implemented to better Chiswick town centre.

  • Upgrading existing green open space and recreation spaces with new facilities.
  • Investing in local heritage buildings, improving their setting with bespoke lighting and public realm.
  • Investing in upgrading existing green open space and recreation spaces with new facilities that encourages year-round use and enjoyment.
  • Community-led planting that improves climate resilience, wildlife and attractiveness of streets and spaces.
  • Chiswick High Road and Turnham Green hosting a programme of year-round events and activities.
  • A network of workspaces and community spaces that supports local idea development and delivery.
  • Destination marketing that captures all that is positive and unique to Chiswick. 

Image above: Map showing the town centres of Feltham, Hounslow, Brentford and Chiswick; from the ‘Reimagining our town centres’ report  by Allies and Morrison, Urban Flow and Avison Young

Neighbourhood parades plan and town centre ‘master plans’ under way

The draft Town Centre Vision documents  were unanimously approve at the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 11 January. The next stage of the plans includes the development of town centre ‘masterplans’, with more specific detail fleshing out the aspirational goals of the report.

The plans for Hounslow and Brentford are already substantially under way; plans for Chiswick will be brought to Cabinet this spring.

See the ‘Reimagining our town centres’ report here.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Reactions to the ‘Big Ideas’ proposed for Chiswick’s town centre

See also: Betty application for 1am licence turned down

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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