We learnt this week that Hammersmith & Fulham Council will not be considering the Imperial West application at their 11th April Planning Applications Committee. The decision has been postponed until mid May at the earliest.
This is a real success for the growing campaign to persuade Imperial to change their plans. The postponement is likely to have been triggered by the GLA ‘stage 1′ report on the scheme. This found that the proposals do not conform in all respects with the 2011 London Plan, and that changes are needed. Boris Johnson has also asked that the height of the 35 storey tower be reviewed.
So thank you to all those who have written in to Boris and to Sir Edward Lister to protest about the present proposals for Imperial West. The campaign is having a real effect.
Imperial College will be very unhappy at the delay, not just because of extra costs but because this disrupts plans to have building work underway and the rest of the site in a reasonable state before postgraduates arrive in the autumn to occupy the student housing blocks. But we did warn them over a year ago that they should not dismiss lightly the views of residents living around the Woodlands site.
The College was very keen to get the decision made this side of the London Mayor elections, to take advantage of ‘the favourable planning environment’ (their term) in which a Conservative-led H&F Council and GLA have been giving the scheme every encouragement. The new GLA report still strongly supports the scheme as a whole, but had to acknowledge areas of non-conformity with the London Plan. The position now is that by the time the Mayor takes a decision on the application at ‘stage 2′, it may not be Boris who is Mayor.
Potential over-development and tall buildings in H&F will now become a lively issue in the electoral campaign, for Mayor and for the London West Central seat. The campaigns against the riverside development at Hammersmith Town Hall, the Earls Court/West Kensington controversy, the Westfield 2 proposals, concerns over the Helical Bar proposed ‘twin tower’, as well as Imperial West, are all likely to feature in the Boris v Ken tussle.
We have updated our page on the Financing of Imperial West to bring together all the information we have been able to dig out from College reports and minutes. It is becoming clear that the project is largely a commercial development masquerading as an ‘academic campus’. When the proposed building uses are analysed in any detail, many of them may well be ‘Imperial use’ but this does not make them academic or non-commercial use. The educational uses of the site seem pretty slim.
We are writing again to all Imperial College council members, to follow up our letter of last year. Now that there are several more weeks before any decision is made on the planning application, the College Council has more time to reflect on their plans. We hope that some significant changes can be made, before the Imperial West application is finally decided.