Old police station development in Chiswick approved by Hounslow Council’s Planning Committee

Image above: Computer generated image of the Birchgrove development from the west

“I think it’s really great for Chiswick” – Cllr Ranjit Gill

The plans to develop the old police station premises in the centre of Chiswick as rental apartments for elderly people have been approved by Hounslow Council’s Planning Committee.

Two Chiswick councillors on the committee abstained – Riverside councillor Amy Croft (Labour) and Homefields councillor John Todd (Conservative). Chiswick Gunnersbury ward councillor Ranjit Gill was at the meeting (but not on the committee) to support the development.

“I think it’s really great for Chiswick” he told The Chiswick Calendar.

“The existing building is an eyesore. It’s just a concrete block and it’s been empty for some time. The new building, from what I’ve seen, looks great. I know there are some people who don’ t like it because they don’t like the colour of the bricks or whatever, but the developer Birchgrove has lowered the roof level so it’s in line with neighbouring buildings and they’re giving space to the community so people can come in from outside and use it.

“I was there to support Honor [Birchgrove Chief Executive]  because they’re going to regenerate the place. It’s been two years and there is no guarantee that anyone else would come up with anything better.”

Ranjit’s ward colleague Cllr Joanna Biddolph opposed the development plans, as did some of the residents in Linden Gardens.

Image above: Computer generated image of the Birchgrove development from the west

“We’re disappointed but not surprised” – Linden Gardens residents

Roula Konzotis, Chair of the Linden Gardens Residents Association, told us:

“I’m not surprised, but I am disappointed. Birchgrove said all the so-called light regulations had been met, but our architect showed that they hadn’t and I feel sorry for our residents who live in the basement flats opposite, who will have far less light.”

Images above: The view from a basement opposite (L) now and (R) as the residents expect it to be

Garth Huxley, Vice Chair of the Association, the retired architect to whom she was referring, told us their objections were mainly to do with the perception of height and the availability of daylight for Linden Gardens residents living opposite.

In particular the developer had changed the plans, so that a step down to the level of the houses in Linden Gardens had been lost, in favour of a uniform block, to meet the target number of units they wanted to build.

Image above: Computer generated image of the plans showing the stepped down design towards the houses in Linden Gardens

“We were hoping to get a deferment so that more time could be spent on the design. We feel the developer hasn’t taken the time to look at it properly.”

Cllr Croft told The Chiswick Calendar she had abstained because she was uncomfortable about whether or not the neighbouring building facing the High Road at number 203 would get less light. She had been persuaded by the argument for deferment, but had decided not to vote against it because her vote would not have made a difference, as there was already a majority in favour.

Police will have a base in the apartment block

Birchgrove has offered Chiswick Police a base in the apartment block. Since the old police station was sold they have been operating without a base in Chiswick, which has been unsatisfactory for both the officers and local residents.

“The most important thing is the presence of the police” Cllr Gill told us. “They are giving two rooms to use for the police to use so they have a base in Chiswick again, instead of having to come from Acton and waste all that time, their time can be spent in Chiswick.

“As councillors we have spent so much time talking to the owners of different premises – the Fire Station, Sainsburys – to try and find them a base and nothing has worked out. People will be reassured by their presence.”

READ ALSO: Police offered a base in the old police station in Chiswick

Cllr Gill told us he had been talking to the Police Superintendent Anil Puri at the public meeting on policing he arranged last year. As a result of their conversation, he put them in touch with Honor Barratt, Chief Executive of Birchgrove.

“I knew from previous discussions that they were willing to provide accommodation for the police.”

Image above: Initial plans for the apartments

First set of plans met with criticism

The first plans the developer published in December 2022 were met with considerable opposition. Birchgrove described the plans as “bold” and “modern”, but the critics described them as “deeply disappointing” and “a wasted opportunity”, out of keeping with the character of the High Rd.

READ ALSO: Design proposals for police station redevelopment unveiled

When the police station was sold to Birchgrove, who specialise in residential apartments for older people, their brief was to design a ‘statement’ building for the centre of Chiswick. Cllr Biddolph said then:

“I think the design is deeply disappointing and it’s being driven by planners who are not connected to Chiswick. It just doesn’t do Chiswick justice.”

Image above: Birchgrove’s proposed garden landscaping

Second set of plans mollified some but still attracted criticism from nearby residents

Birchgrove made a number of changes to the design in response to the feedback.

READ ALSO: Developers publish revised plans for Chiswick Police station site

Ron Fernee, who lives directly opposite the old Police station in Linden Gardens and has lived in Chiswick since 1986, told The Chiswick Calendar the revised design used a different style of bricks and had been moved back further from the pavement facing Linden Gardens so it would be in line with an existing block of apartments, but the building was still planned to be higher than the residential houses in the street and the apartments alongside, and higher than the existing police station is now, so it would affect their privacy and their light.

“As far as we can see the changes are just superficial. At the moment there is only one window overlooking us from what was the police canteen. Now there will be 35 windows, with people potentially looking down into our living rooms, so it is an infringement of privacy as well as a loss of light.”

Before the Planning Committee meeting, Chief Executive Honor Barratt told The Chiswick Calendar:

“We are very excited after waiting two years.

“There has been a massive process of consultation, but the residents of Linden Gardens have been so helpful making suggestions and I think they take the view that if anyone’s going to develop the site, it might as well be us.

“It will be disruptive and there will be lots of dust while we’re building it, but we are in it for the long term. ”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar