Hounslow Council bows to pressure to reverse ‘backwards’ benches

Image: Benches facing into shops on the Grove Park Piazza

Hounslow Council bows to pressure to turn benches around to face the other way at new Grove park ‘piazza’

Locals have viewed the installation of new benches at the Grove Park ‘piazza’ with bafflement, as they have been installed facing the row of shops, and there has been some hilarity in the chemist, Busby’s, which would have come under particular scrutiny from members of the public sitting there.

Pharmacist Sue Birch told The Chiswick Calendar:

“We’ll have to put on Punch and Judy shows and book some male strippers.”

Contrary to popular opinion, the benches have not been put in the wrong way round by a dozy council. They were always intended to face this way so people sitting there wouldn’t be looking out at the traffic, former chair of the Grove Park residents group Andy Murray told us.

Andy, along with the Vice-Chair Jonathan Knight, was instrumental in raising funds for the work. The original idea was to smarten up the area by creating a partly pedestrianised piazza. He told us the benches were initially designed to be attached to raised planters facing the shops so people sitting there would not just be looking at the adjacent parked cars.

Image: The original designs for the piazza which show benches attached to the planters and closer car-parking spaces

Current Chairman of the Grove Park Group, Rob King, was also in agreement that the benches should face the shops. He told us the placement of the benches had been suggested by the Council and they “reconfirmed” the approach in a recent meeting:

“Very shortly cars will be parking in the piazza, so a bench placed to the direction of the roadway would have a view onto the back of a parked car, at about windscreen wiper level. It’s very obvious and fair point to make when the ‘piazza’ is empty and we are looking over to the lovely pub and trees etc… After this point was raised by a few residents and shopkeepers we discussed this again with the Council who reconfirmed the approach.”

Image: The ‘piazza’, with pits behind the benches reserved for plants

Hounslow to swap around benches after ‘listening and responding to feedback’

There have been so many comments to Hounslow Council about the benches facing ‘the wrong way’ that it has now committed to changing them round to face the other way, so they will now face the road, greenery and Old Station House pub, which is itself being redeveloped.

Cllr Katherine Dunne, Hounslow Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Climate, Environment, and Transport, explained the Council’s thinking:

“We chose to position the benches facing the shops rather than the road, believing this would provide a more pleasant view for people instead of looking at traffic. However, as a Council that listens and responds to feedback, we have taken into account the input from residents and shopkeepers. As a result, we will be adjusting the scheme so that the benches face the road.”

Once completed, the new piazza will feature widened pavements, seating areas, greenery, and more spaces for bicycle parking.

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