This is a summary timeline of events leading up to the decision on a planning application for Phase 2 of the Imperial West proposals. It demonstrates how Imperial’s aspirations are leading the planning process, with planning policies and the White City OAPF being retro-fitted to accommodate their proposals.
July 2004 Hammersmith & Fulham Council adopt the first White City Opportunity Area Planning Framework as Supplementary Planning Guidance to the Borough’s Unitary Development Plan. The document states that height of buildings north of A40 must respect neighbouring residential areas.
2005/6 International architecture firm OMA develop White City masterplan on behalf of a consortium of landowners and developers. Introduces idea of tall towers by Westway roundabout as a ‘gateway’ to central London.
July 2009 Imperial College Council discuss opportunity to purchase BBC Woodlands site.
September 2009 Imperial College Council updated on successful purchase of site for £28m. Competition held for selection of architects.
October/November 2009 Imperial College appoints architects and agrees initial terms with developer and equity partner (Voreda Capital) to deliver the Imperial West project through off balance sheet debt funding).
February 2010 Presentation of masterplan for Imperial West site to Imperial College Council. Total floorspace of 12,4020 square metres proposed, with two very tall towers.
May 2010 Imperial hold open day and exhibitions on masterplan and Phase 1 proposals. Residents in RBK&C notified of these only late in the day.
June 2010 Imperial holds discussions with LBHF and GLA on more detailed proposals for development of the site.
July 2010 Imperial submit planning application for Phase 1 of the development, including postgraduate accommodation blocks rising to 10 storeys.
September 29th 2010 Expiry date for neighbour consultations on Phase 1 planning application. (No residents of RBK&C notified by LBHF of the application, despite proximity to borough boundary, but many write in).
October 13th 2010 LBHF Planning Applications Committee approves Phase 1 proposals. Comittee report concludes that impact on Oxford Gardens Conservation area will be ‘neutral’ despite 55 objection letters from residents, and representations on height of buildings from RBK&C.
February 2011 Imperial College Council told that LBHF is ‘pressing for momentum’ on Phase 2 of the development and that that ‘the degree of encouragement and support from the local authority is highly unusual’.
April 2011 GLA and LBHF start public consultation on first draft of new version of White City OAPF. This document states that Towers of approximately 20-30 storeys (up to 100 metres) would be appropriate along the Westway at the gateway to central London. Conservation areas in LBHF referred to, but no mention made of Oxford Gardens CA.
June 2011 RBK&C residents get to hear about OAPF consultation. Public meeting at St Helens Church voices strong opposition to tall building proposals. Petition from 177 residents sent to LBHF and RBK&C. Objection letters to OAPF proposals sent in by St Helens Residents Association and many residents. RBK&C ‘objects most strongly’ to proposals in OAPF for taller buildings. Consultation closes.
July 2011 St Helens Residents Association holds meeting with Imperial College and their architects, following SHRA letter questioning scale of development and impact on neighbouring residential areas. Imperial’s architects imply that building heights being reconsidered.
July 2011 Planning Inspector issues report following Public Inspection of LBHF Core Strategy. States that ‘well designed towers along the Westway, as a “gateway” to Central London, and on the northern corners of White City Green should be capable of providing variety and interest within the wider redevelopment scheme and contribute to place making, including by creating local landmarks and identifying key transport interchanges’. SHRA writes to point out that implications for conservation areas in adjoining borough have not been taken into account.
September 2011 second meeting held between Imperial and SHRA. Imperial advise that proposals are being finalised for pre-application consultation, and now include a 34 storey residential tower.
October 2011 Imperial hold a series of pre-application consultation exhibitions and presentations, from October 6th to 10th.
October 2011 Hammersmith and Fulham Councils adopts new Core Strategy setting out planning policies for the Borough. The document is notably developer-friendly and suggests that a cluster of very tall buildings along Westway would be appropriate.
December 2011 submission by Imperial of Phase 2 planning application for Imperial West, seeking final approval for certain buildings (including residential tower, now at 35 storeys) and outline approval for others.
January 2012 Imperial’s planning application is validated, and statutory consultation letters are sent to local residents. Closing date for comments is March 8th 2012.
March 2012 Date when Imperial and its consultants hoped to get final planning approval to Phase 2
April 2012 Expected decision on the Imperial application deferred from April LBHF committee meeting, probably because of attention the proposals were attracting during the London Mayoral election.
May 2012 Imperial’s architects and consultants submit further drawings and documentation. Changes to the scheme are cosmetic only.
June 13th 2012 this was the next forecast date for decision by H&F Planning Applications Committee, but no report appeared.
July 10th 2012 LBHF Planning Application Committee meets, with a 120 page report on the agenda recommending approval to Phase 2 of Imperial West. But the report is ‘withdrawn’ at 24 hours notice, in response to the legal challenge from St Helens Residents Association. Report scheduled for the next PAC meeting on July 25th.
July 25th 2012 LBHF meets again to consider a revised report recommending approval to the application. New version of the report removes former references to the 2011 draft WCOAPF and admits that ‘very limited’ material weight should be given to this document. Still does not refer to the relevant policy statements in the 2004 WCOAPF, but acknowledges that this SPD ‘remains extant’ and has never been rescinded or revoked. Report sets out an officer ‘view’ the 2004 SPD now carries no weight. Planning application approved after a 3 hour discussion. Councillors vote on political party lines, with Labour members against the recommendation.
Late September 2012 forecast date (put back again) for further statutory consultation on revised draft of the new White City OAPF. Will the council republish it as Supplementary Planning Guidance, or as an Area Action Plan (in line with the High Court judgment in the Shepherds Bish Market Judicial Review case)?
Late 2012 Expected date for adoption by H&F of the new version of the White City OAPF, assuming the council overcomes its legal problems on misusing SPDs in ‘areas of significant change’.