Hounslow Council new HQ opened

Hounslow Council has a new headquarters. For anyone who has had to trek to the old one in Lampton Rd, it will come as something of a relief that the new one is slap bang in the middle of Hounslow, accessible by sensible public transport and easy to find. On the rare occasion I had to go there, the civic centre seemed ok, typical ‘60s concrete monstrosity where you can’t tell any difference between the car park and the actual civic centre, but functional. If you had the misfortune to work there, towards the end it was miserable by the sound of it, full of asbestos apparently, with air conditioning that could be relied upon to break down every week. I was talking to a planner at the launch do for the new one. She’d shown a group of architects round who were waxing lyrical about its Brutalist purism. You could see her thinking ‘we’d better knock it down quick before some joker wants it listed’ Get the wrecking balls in!’ The site is going to house 910 new homes, half of which will be ‘affordable housing’.

Photographs above: Cllr Steve Curran, leader of Hounslow Council, with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan at the opening ceremony; Mayor of Hounslow Samia Chaudhary with Sadiq Khan on the new building’s roof terrace, being photographed by the press

The new building is rather impressive. Smaller, state of the art, energy-efficient, with solar panels and ‘a more modern and flexible Council Chamber, which can also be used as community or event space’. Also ‘new technology means that staff can work more efficiently, going out to meet clients instead of needing residents to come to the council for appointments’. I remember when they introduced hot desking at the BBC, and staff were doomed to roam the vast spaces of the new headquarters, reusable coffee cup in hand, in search of somewhere to plug in their laptop. Fights broke out daily.

I salute our newly nomadic councillors. I met one or two at the ‘do’, and there was not a peep about the cost of the new building. That’s how you know how much it must have been needed. “Hounslow House is a landmark building that will revitalise the western end of the High Street and give a real boost to the town centre” said Council Leader Steve Curran. “This is a fitting home for Hounslow Council’s efforts to make life better for those who live, work, visit and study in the borough” said Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who was there to open it.

I like it and I think it’s good that it’s also the new home of Hounslow Library and will be the venue for adult education classes. I almost look forward to having a meeting there, if we can find somewhere to sit.