The Curve rears its ugly head again

The developer of the Chiswick Curve has announced that it is appealing against the London Borough of Hounslow’s refusal to grant planning permission for a 32 storey tower and three enormous digital advertising hoardings at Chiswick roundabout.

Residents in Chiswick thought they’d seen off the tower block threat when Hounslow Council Planning Committee turned it down unanimously in January on the advice of their planning officials. Now the fight will have to begin all over again if the council is to win its case.

Public Inquiry

It’s not yet known on what grounds the developers are appealing. West Chiswick & Gunnersbury Society, who have been leading the opposition to the Curve, has been taken somewhat by surprise by the appeal, as they thought the developer would make a few changes and resubmit their application with amendments.

Chairman of the WCGS, Marie Rabouhans told me they now find themselves in the novel position of supporting the council, whereas historically they have usually found themselves in opposition.

The Government’s Planning Inspectorate has written to Marilyn Smith, Hounslow’s Chief Planning Officer, to advise the council of the appeal and that it will be the subject of a Public Inquiry, which is expected to last at least three days. Marie will be asking for West Chiswick & Gunnersbury Society to be represented at the Inquiry and for permission to speak against the development.

In order for the council to defeat the appeal, it will need public support in the form of written objections, for which the deadline is 19th September (see below).

A blot on the landscape

On what grounds does Hounslow Council and local residents oppose the Curve? The Chief Planning Officer advised the council to refuse planning permission primarily on the grounds of ugliness. The skyscraper was just too tall and would stick out in the surrounding landscape, blighting the view for miles around and most notably changing the aspect from the river and Kew Gardens. The ‘substantial harm’ would outweigh any public benefit and it would ruin the skyline.

It was not just residents’ and community groups who opposed the development. Opposition was cross party and included institutions such as English Heritage. West Chiswick & Gunnersbury Society also argued that the Curve would increase traffic congestion and put added pressure on public transport and Chiswick’s infrastructure as well as increasing air pollution. For more details of the case against the Curve, go to WCGS website.

Or watch the interviews I recorded last year at the public meeting organised to galvanise opposition, with Marie Rabouhans

Barbara Weiss, the architect and founder of the Skyline Campaign

And Andrea Lee, campaigner for clean air.

Now write a letter

Opponents of the Curve now have until 19th September to write to the Inspectorate. Marie says:

“If these Appeals are to be defeated, it is essential that as many of us as possible write to the Planning Inspectorate explaining why we support the Council’s refusal”.

The easiest way to send your comments is to e-mail them to the Planning Inspectorate case officer, Elizabeth Humphreys:

Put the Appeal reference as the subject. The reference for the main appeal for the building is APP/F5540/W/17/3180962; you can include comments on the linked appeal for the media screens (APP/F5540/Z/17/3173208) within the same document provided you indicate this clearly. Give the address of the appeal site [Land at Chiswick Roundabout, London W4 4QB] and provide your name and address.