Watermans development given the go-ahead by Secretary of State

Planning permission for the site of the Watermans arts centre in Brentford has been signed off by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

LB Hounslow gave approval for the development of the current site beside the river at Watermans Park in Brentford in 2018. The council agreed to 193 flats on the site, with buildings of part six and part seven storeys.

Watermans arts centre is to be relocated to the site of the old Police Station site in Brentford, with 105 new flats as part of the development there. Watermans were initially on board with the idea, then protested that they would not be given as much space as they had initially been led to believe.

The proposal for the development of the current site was called in by the Secretary of State following objections from Historic England regarding the visual impact from Kew Gardens of its height and mass. A virtual inquiry was held in October 2020, the Inspector recommended that the appeal be approved and now the Secretary of State has upheld the approval.

A statement fom the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government said:

“The Secretary of State has considered the new London Plan’s (2021) provisions on tall buildings. He concludes that as the Hounslow Local Plan defines this as an area with some suitability for tall buildings. He agrees … that there would be no direct harm to designated heritage assets”.

Watermans say they are now looking forward to the move:

‘For over 35 years, Watermans has been providing a year-round programme of independent cinema, theatre, cabaret, exhibitions, workshops, festivals and more. We operate as a registered charity and social enterprise and any money we make is invested back into the community.

‘We now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a step change in what we can offer: to create an inspiring artistic and social hub for West London, with Brentford at its beating heart.

‘The proposals for Watermans’ relocation are not simply about a new building but about the kind of arts and creative scene we want in this area for the future. The opportunity is to deliver a world-class arts centre that will put Brentford on the cultural map, ignite its economy and inspire its residents, as well as the visitors we attract from around West London.

‘We have a vision for a venue that will simultaneously present an inspiring, high-quality artistic programme, and be Brentford’s living room, a community hub underpinned by Watermans’
continuing ethos of inclusivity, diversity, humanity and a welcome to all’

Watermans currently presents a busy year-round programme of performance, exhibitions, cinema, workshops and family events. It also offers an extensive outreach programme across the borough of Hounslow, including outdoor arts events at Bell Square in Hounslow town centre.

For many people in Chiswick, it is the nearest place to go and see a film in a cinema. The cinema programme offers a mix of mainstream, arts and foreign language films and the opportunity to see major productions from the National Theatre and major opera companies rebroadcast. The centre’s children’s theatre programme is also very popular.

Watermans receives support from second round of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund

The arts centre heard on 1 April that it has received a grant from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help the organisation recover and reopen. Watermans is among more than 2,700 recipients to benefit from the latest round of awards from the Culture Recovery Fund. Grants have been awarded to thousands of cultural organisations across the country in the latest round of support.

Over £800 million in grants and loans has already been awarded to support almost 3,800 cinemas, performance venues, museums, heritage sites and other cultural organisations dealing with the immediate challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

The second round of awards will help organisations to look ahead to the spring and summer and plan for reopening and recovery.

‘After months of closures and cancellations to contain the virus and save lives, this funding will be a much-needed helping hand for organisations transitioning back to normal in the months ahead’.

Jan Lennox, Director of Watermans said:

“We are delighted to have received this grant which is further recognition of Watermans’ high quality and ambitious programmes at the venue, out in the community and now online.  As before, we will reopen at the earliest possible opportunity and this support from the Culture Recovery Fund will help us to continue engaging creatively with our community and deliver a full programme as we reopen’.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Watermans ‘saved’ by community support

See also: West London culture venues receive government money

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