The Association is reviewing the detail of the planning application submitted by Imperial in December 2011. We have been drawing up a detailed letter of objections. Currently, we have identified a number of areas on which the application would appear to be contrary to the planning policies of the Mayor for London (as reflected in the 2011 London Plan) and of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
These grounds for objecting to the current planning application can be summarised as follows:
- The proposals are in conflict with national planning
policy on Planning and the Historic Environment (PPS5). (This
document is published by Communities and Local Government Department at this link )
- The proposals are in conflict with the 2011 London Plan and in particular policies 7.4, 7.5 and 7.7. (Chapter 7 of the London Plan is at this link)
- The proposals will have a very significant adverse impact on views in and out of the Oxford Gardens Conservation Area and are contrary to RB Kensington & Chelsea Core Strategy policies CL1, CL2, CL3 and CL4 (the Royal
Borough’s Core Strategy is at this link
- The proposed residential tower of 35 storeys is even higher than was suggested by the (highly contested) proposals for tall buildings in the draft White City Opportunity Area Planning Framework. (White City OAPF is at this link
- The application is premature given that the revised version of the White City OAPF has yet to be published and consulted on. Many local people raised strong objections to the ‘tall buildings’ section of the draft OAPF when this was consulted on in 2011.
We believe Hammersmith & Fulham Council to be supporting and encouraging excessive commercial development in the borough – as part of its policy of creating ‘A Borough of Opportunity’. Two other major and very controversial schemes in the Borough (the Earls Court redevelopment, and the King Street Town Hall redevelopment, have been put on hold in recent weeks, as being incompatible with the strategic requirements of the Mayor’s 2011 London Plan.
We also consider that Hammersmith & Fulham Council has been engaged in an exercise of retro-fitting new planning policies to meet the aspirations of a number of major landowners and developers, and of ignoring the views of local people in the process.
This can be seen in the amendments, proposed by developers and their agents, and incorporated into the new Core Strategy adopted by the Council in 2011. And in the wording of the draft White City OAPF. This document, jointly prepared by Hammersmith & Fulham Council and the GLA, was the subject of consultation in 2011. A revised version is due to be consulted on, but this will not now happen until after the London Mayor elections in May 2012. Formal adoption of the new version will not be until late 2012.
Yet Imperial’s planning advisers argue that significant ‘material weight’ should be given to the draft version, in the council’s consideration of the Phase 2 application for Imperial West. We argue that no material weight should be given to this draft, which is many months from adoption as formal policy.
Community consultation on the Phase 2 proposals
A pre-application consultation process on the Phase 2 proposals, carried out by Imperial and its consultants, concluded in October 2011. This involved a series of 4 local exhibitions/open days, on both sides of the Borough boundary. The session held at St Helens Church drew over 200 local residents, most of whom voiced strong objections to the proposals.
As part of the planning application and the associated Environmental Impact Assessment, Imperial are required to submit a Statement of Community Consultation.
This document has been prepared by Imperial’s PR consultants (Quatro Consulting) and can be found here. It records the series of comnsultation meetings held, along with meetings held between Imperial and the St Helens Residents Association. It includes details of the written objections submitted to Quatro as part of the consultation (with names and addresses).
In all, 184 written comments were submitted, of which 31 were from LBHF residents and 153 were from RBKC residents and businesses. The conclusions reached by the report are that:
‘Overall, the comments show that people living in LBHF are generally positive about the proposals, with a few negative comments about the height of the tall building, traffic and parking.
The overwhelming concern of residents living in RBKC is the height of the tall building, its visibility from the St Helen’s area and potential impact on sunlight/daylight, together with concerns about traffic impact.’
The report also lists the changes made as a result of public consultation (including those relating to an earlier round, in 2010). We think it fair to say that few residents in RBK&C will see these changes as being of much help, albeit that plans and elevations for building D have been improved. The main source of controversy (the residential tower) has been increased in height from 34 storeys to 35.
Phase 1 of Imperial West
Phase 1 of the Imperial development at Woodlands was approved by Hammersmith & Fulham Council in October 2008. The committee report can be seen here. Planning officers concluded that the impact on surrounding houses in the Oxford Gardens Conservation Area would be ‘neutral’.
We beg to differ. This conclusion was reached after formal objections on height of buildings were made by RB Kensington and Chelsea, by the Hammersmith Society, by our Association, and by 55 others.
Many of these objections pointed out that the photo ‘visualisations’ relied on by council officers and councillors did not give a true picture of the impact of the 10 storey blocks of postgraduate housing which formed the basis of the application.
These blocks are now under construction, and it is clear for all to see that the information submitted with the planning application was misleading.
As a result, our Association has sought and received assurances that it will have direct access to the consultants providing similar material for the Phase 2 application. This is designed to ensure that ‘before’ and ‘after’ visual assessments are more credible. We have now been provided with the computer model, and have used it to produce a number of visual images of the completed development which we believe are accurate. These include the banner for this website.