The property company Helical Bar (in partnership with Aviva) submitted in early 2012 an initial ‘scoping’ application for a mixed use development on the former Dairy Crest site. This site is 10 acres, between Wood Lane and the West Cross Route and is currently occupied by warehouses and other mixed uses. The only vehicle access is Depot Road, off Wood Lane.
Helical bar undertook a further round of consultation in March 2012. The proposals in the scheme has not altered much. An outline planning application for the site was submitted in July 2012, and the link will be provided here once the application is validated and published on the LBHF website.
This initial scoping application can be seen at this link
. It included proposals for a 32 storey residentail tower on the north of the site, and adjacent to Westway (i.e. opposite the tower proposed for Imperial West).
The map below shows the masterplan for the site, and how it relates to the Imperial West site (at the top of the map) and to Wood Lane (to the left of the map). The St Quintin Estate is in the top right hand corner.
Helical Bar and their partner Aviva have owned the site since 2002. Previous masterplan ideas, involving this and other sites in the White City Opportunity Area, were consulted on with local residents in 2006. Helical Bar and Aviva subsequently decided to pull out of the former consortium with the BBC and Marks & Spencer, and to develop this site on their own.
The purpose of a ‘scoping’ application is to determine the issues to be covered by a subsequent Environmental Impact Assessment – required as part of an outline or full application.
Helical Bar and their architects and consultan held a first ‘stakeholder forum’ for local residents and amenity groups in Novermber 2011, to discuss their plans to develop this site.The forum session started with a set of presentations from the developer’s property consultants (Jones Lang La Salle, as also being used by Imperial) and their architects (Eric Parry Associates). This was followed by questions from the floor, and a session during which smaller groups looked at some of the detail of the proposals.
It was clear from the questions that the St Helens Residents Association is not alone, in our concern that a small group of developers and consultants are pushing ahead prematurely with a second high density proposal for a site in the White City area. Three major developments are now being progressed, before the new planning framework for the area (the updated White City OAPF
) has gone through its formal public consultation process or is adopted by the council. The revised version of the WCOAPF is now due to be published in late September 2012
At the early stakeholder meetings, other residents groups from the White City Estate raised similar concerns, and pointed out that Helical Bar is the council’s development partner for the contentious scheme beside Hammersmith Town Hall.
Under questioning, the Helical Bar representative acknowledged that required investment returns would determine the nature of the scheme. This will be a further development where densities and building heights will be commercially driven.
The main details of the Helical Bard development are:
- the development will be predominantly residential, with around 1,000 units.
- there will be a mix of private and affordable housing, with the balance to be negotiated with the council in the context of Borough and GLA policies for affordable housing
- the vehicle access from Depot Road, over the railway line, will be rebuilt in the form of a 30m wide bridge and pedestrian/cycle route in place of current circuitous road bridge.
- there will be some office and employment use, but in the form of smaller studios and workshops rather than any corporate HQ buildings
- the northern part of the site will form a pedestrian link, under Westway, leading to the Imperial West site and the proposed subway between there and the southern end of Latimer Road.
- the centre of the site is currently planned as a rectangular publlic open space, about the site of a football pitch, designed to provide a pedestrian route from Imperial West to the southern end of the site ultimately to Westfield (subject to what happens on the remaining land owned by M&S).
- building mass and height is seen as being of ‘urban grain’ and compared (by the architects) to parts of London such as the edge of Battersea Park and the northern side of Regents Park.
- most of the residential blocks will be around 7-8 stories, rising to 9 or more at the edge of the development,
- and yes, there will be that tall tower of residential units. This is seen as complementing the Imperial tower on the other side of Westway, and providing the ‘cluster’ and ‘gateway’ seemingly so beloved of H&F and GLA planners ever since the 2006 masterplan by the Office of Metropolitan Architecture (see ‘who wants a gateway to London?’)
It was claimed that local people had supported in earlier consultations the idea of an ‘iconic’ or ‘landmark’ building, although no one present at the consultation session could back up this statement. Those residents from the White City Estate who were present were fairly universal in their view that tower blocks do not work for anyone except in expensive apartment blocks with high standards of upkeep and maintenance.
The Hammersmith Society has pointed out that proposed building heights in this and other developments were already going above what was set out in the first draft of the new White City OAPF. This argued that buildings should be predominantly 4-6 storey, and a modern version of mansion blocks, to reflect the fact that surrounding areas are 2-3 storey residential.
At the initial November 2010 ‘stakeholder’ session, we and others raised issues over the cumulative impact of these developments. Traffic impact on Wood Lane is a big concern, with only one exit and entry point to the site. Pressure on other infrastructure from a 1,000 further residential units (schools, health centres, water, sewage) were also raised.