To no great surprise, the Imperial West application was approved last night at a lengthy meeting of the LBHF Planning Applications Committee. This decision remains subject to ‘no contrary direction’ by Boris Johnson, Mayor for London. We will be turning our campaigning efforts in his direction, as well as meeting with lawyers Webster Dixon on the scope for judicial review of the council’s decision.
The text of the press release issued jointly by SHRA and Woodlands Area Residents is as follows:
COUNCIL APPROVES TOWER BLOCK DESPITE WARNINGS FROM LOCAL RESIDENTS THAT IT MAY BE UNLAWFUL
Hammersmith and Fulham Council allows 35-storey block of flats on Woodlands site.
Despite strong protests and objections, a London council has given approval to a massive development scheme that local residents groups warn may be unlawful.
After two and a half hours of debate, the Conservative majority on Hammersmith and Fulham Council pushed through approval for a further phase of development on the Woodlands site on Wood Lane in West London.
Imperial College acquired the site from the BBC in 2009. It has since built four blocks of student accommodation. In late 2011 the college applied for planning permission for further development, including a 35-storey block of flats, a hotel and 12 storey office buildings.
Woodlands Area Residents and the St Helens Residents Association oppose the plans. They argue that council planning policies do not provide permission for such tall buildings on the site, which is adjacent to residential streets and a conservation area in neighbouring Kensington and Chelsea.
“The council and the GLA gave Imperial an informal green light to these proposals two years ago,” says Henry Peterson, Chair of the St Helens Residents Association. “They are now struggling to justify a massive overdevelopment which makes no sense at this location. Some of the things said by planning officers at the committee meeting were greeted with laughter and disbelief by a large audience”
Hammersmith and Fulham Council this week withdrew plans to redevelop its own Town Hall after years of opposition from local residents and amenity groups. Council leader Nicholas Botterill conceded that the council had “listened and learned” in response to strong opposition from local residents and the concerns of the Greater London Authority over the height of proposed residential tower blocks.
The council does not seem to be listening to residents in the north of the borough, where it has identified White City as an Opportunity Area. However the latest planning framework for the area is still in draft, has yet to undergo statutory consultation, or be formally adopted.
Nevertheless, council planners recommended approval for the development of the Woodlands site. Although Labour councillors all voted against the application, it was approved by Conservative members who have majority control of the borough.
Representatives of local residents and amenity groups turned out to protest at the plans, carrying placards urging the council not to ignore the law.
Residents associations are now considering the case for legal review. This follows a similar case in the borough where a judge recently ruled that the council had not followed the correct planning procedures. They are calling on the Mayor of London to intervene, given the objections received from the adjacent borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which has also opposed the plans.
Andy Slaughter, the Labour MP for Hammersmith and the Shadow Minister for Justice, has lent strong support to these local campaigns to protect the rights of residents. He attended the committee meeting and said: “I’m delighted that people across the borough are fighting back and I will do all I can to support Shepherds Bush, Hammersmith and West Kensington residents against the wreckers in the Town Hall.”