Imperial West decision deferred by LBHF (again)

For the third time, Hammersmith and Fulham Council has deferred a decision on the Imperial West Phase 2 application.  First it was meant to be decided by their Planning Applications Committee in March, then June and then July 10th.

Twenty four hours before the committee was due to meet, the council sent an email to interested parties saying: ‘The decision to withdraw the Application has been taken in order to provide officers with an opportunity to clarify certain matters in the planning report, in particular the policy context in which the development proposals fall to be assessed. Such clarification will assist Members in their consideration of the Application’.

What this means is that the council’s planning officers are finally waking up to the legal questions that we have posed to them, over many months. These relate to the status of the new draft version of the White City OAPF as opposed to the version adopted by the council in 2004.

The 2011 draft version introduced the specious idea of 100m towers along Westway as a ‘gateway to London’.  The 2004 version said (much more sensibly) that buildings north of the Westway should respect the neighbouring residential areas.

This ‘inconvenient truth’ has been resolutely ignored by Imperial’s consultants and LBHF planners.  But the successful legal challenge by the Shepherds Bush Market traders, and the letter sent by our legal advisers Webster Dixon, have made the councillors on the Planning Applications Committee stop to wonder if they were about to make an unlawful decision.  This can only be a good thing, if it offers hope that the massive over-development proposed in the Imperial West scheme gets a closer look.

The council says that the application will be back on the PAC agenda for July 25th.  Given that the council has already had over 6 months to assess the scheme, it is not clear what is going to change between now and then.  We wait to see the revised report and recommendation.

This very late deferral has meant that people planning to lobby at the Town Hall tomorrow July 10th now have no reason to go there.  We have contacted all our 280 members.  Sorry if you have had a wasted trip by the time that you read this, but it is really not our fault.  The council needs to get its act together.





Legal challenge to the Imperial application

The Association’s lawyers have sent a letter to LBHF council warning that the Planning Applications Committee should either refuse or defer the Imperial West application at their meeting on 10th July.  See at Webster Dixon to LBHF

Does the council wish to be on the receiving end of a third Judicial Review application, on its flawed planning decisions?  We will find out next week.

July 10th is decision day for Imperial West

The planning application for the Imperial West development is due to be decided by Hammermith and Fulham’s Planning Applications Committee on July 10th.  The committee report, in which officers recommend approval to the application, can be found here (it is a long report and takes a bit of time to download).

We sent a detailed set of objections to the council, back in March – see at SHRA to LBHF on Imperial West application.V6

This week we have written again to the council, focusing on the legal risks that it faces should it decide to approve the planning application next week.

LBHF is already defending two legal challenges, on the Shepherds Bush Market scheme, and on the Earls Court development.   The council shows little sign of changing its approach to major developments, or of heeding the judgment against them on the Shepherds Bush Market Supplementary Planning Document.

Our latest letter to the council can be read here

We are entirely serious about applying to the courts for Judicial Review of a decision by the council to approve the Imperial west application, in its present form and at this time.  We have solicitors on standby, awaiting Tuesday’s decision.

We do not oppose the use of the site by Imperial, for a development reduced in density and scale, and once there is a new version of the White City Opportunity Area Planning Framework which has been consulted on and lawfully adopted by LBHF as planning authority.

We will lobbying councillors on the Planning Applications Committee before the meeting, which starts at 7pm in the Small Hall at Hammersmith Town Hall, King Street, London W69JU.  At the meeting itself, no members of the public will be allowed to speak. If you feel strongly that local people should have a voice in battling against excessive over-development of the White City area, please come and join us.

The image above is one of several which distingished cartoonist Andrzej Krauze has drawn for the Association.  It sums up very well how local residents feel.

More legal problems for Hammersmith & Fulham

The council is now facing a second legal challenge over the status of its Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs).  The tenants and residents of the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates are seeking judicial review of the decisions by LBHF and RBKC to adopt a SPD to pave the way for the controversial Earls Court revelopment.  See for more details here.

The issues involved are similar to those on which the Goldhawk Road shopkeepers recently won their High Court case against Hammersmith & Fulham.

Meanwhile, we have asked the council when the public can expect to see the revised version of the White City Opportunity Area Planning Framework.  Publication of this document (also a SPD) has been delayed since last autumn and was expected in July 2012.  The council could not give us a publication date.

Nor are we getting an answer to the questions of when the Imperial West phase 2 application will be decided.  There are now three Planning Application Committees scheduled for July, on the 10th, 25th and 30th.  Will the application be on the agenda for any of these meetings?  We have to wait to see.  If it appears next week, for the July 10th meeting, look out for more news here.


Imperial West decision deferred again

We heard today that the LBHF Planning Applications Committee will not be considering Imperial’s application on June 13th.  It has been deferred (for a second time) and the earliest possible date is the next committee on July 10th.

The reason for further delay (we have been assured) is that the planning case officer has had to take leave unexpectedly.   We had been half expecting a further delay, given that the council may well be redrafting the committee report in the light of last week’s High Court judgment (see post below).

Hammersmith & Fulham planning decision found unlawful

The shopkeepers of Goldhawk Road have won a notable victory against the council.  A judicial review case at the High Court has led a judge to decide that the council’s adoption of a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) in October 2010 was procedurally flawed.  The shopkeepers and their solicitors are now planning a further JR to challenge the outline planning approval which the council subsequently gave, on the scheme to redevelop Shpeherds Bush Market.

The decision has wider implications on how the council approaches Supplementary Planning Documents, including the White City OAPF. This in turn has implications for the Imperial West application.   It must be interesting times within the LBHF Planning Division.  More anon.



June 13th looks like decision day

It looks increasingly likely that the Imperial West planning application will be decided by the Hammersmith & Fulham Planning Applications Committee on June 13th.

The meeting is scheduled to take place at 7pm in the Small Hall at Hammersmith Town Hall, King Street, London W6 9JU.  We hope that many residents from both K&C and H&F will attend the meeting.

For those unfamiliar with the way that Hammersmith and Fulham conducts its planning business, please note that the committee meets monthly and usually has at least one major planning application to decide.   Members of the public are not allowed to speak, and unlike the equivalent RBKC committee, ‘deputations’ which permit local organisations to make their views heard are not permitted either.

The committee is made up of 7 Conservative councillors and 3 Labour.  Discussions may be brief, if the majority part want to move on to non-contentious applications.  But this is as near as we will get to democracy in action, and the presence of large numbers of the public helps to make councillors aware that they are making unpopular decisions.  It is worth going along.

So please make a note of June 13th in your diary.  Imperial have made some cosmetic changes to the application and have submitted many new documents (including CGI images of what the development will look like from the inside, rather than from where we residents will see it).  These can be found on the LBHF website at this link if you want to have a look.  We will be making a final round of comments on the application, and sending a summary of our objections to all members of the committee.

Meanwhile, keep those emails flowing in to  He becomes Leader of the Council on May 30th.



Latest meeting with Imperial

We met yesterday with Jeremy Newsum, the member of the Imperial College Council who is overseeing the Imperial West development.   It was a disappointing meeting.  The College’s architects have made some minor adjustments to the proposals, in response to comments and criticisms from the GLA and from CABE (Commission for the Built Environment).  But we were told that the scheme remains very much the same as before in terms of building height and mass.

The College expects a decision on the planning application to be made at the Hammersmith & Fulham Planning Applications Committee on 13th June, as forecast in our earlier post below.

We discussed with Jeremy Newsum the reasons why the Association (and many other local residents) believe that the College has been too greedy in the commercial return that it is seeking from the Woodlands site.  But our arguments fell on deaf ears.  We will suffer the consequences in terms of a proposed site density that exceeds that of Canary Wharf, for the second phase of the Imperial West development.

The traffic jams in North Pole Road and St Quintins Avenue, now a daily feature of local life, will continue to worsen as the Wood Lane developments are occupied in the coming years.

Assuming the planning application is decided in mid June, we now have one more month in which to influence the outcome.  We will be working with the Kensington Society, and Norland, to build public pressure against the series of overdevelopments along the borough boundary.

On the political front, Boris is back at County Hall.  We will see whether his request that LBHF look again at the proposed height of the 35 storey tower at Imperial West is followed up.  The risk is that, like many promises made during election campaigns, this one will be forgotten.

Stephen Greenhalgh has stepped down as council leader at LBHF earlier than expected.  He is taking up a new role as Boris’s Deputy Mayor for Policing.  Councillor Nick Botterill, currently Deputy Leader at LBHF, has been elected by the Conservative Group to take over as Leader from May 30th.  He will now become the focus of local efforts to persuade the council’s Planning Applications Committee to reject the Imperial West application in its present form.

The minor changes made to Imperial West application will be made public in the next week or so.  We will publish details on this website as soon as they are available.

Planning decision will not be before June

We have heard from London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham that the decision on Imperial’s Phase 2 application will not be until 13th June at the earliest.  Imperial’s architects have been meeting with the council’s planners to discuss the GLA response to the original application (Boris asked for several aspects, including the height of the tower, to be looked at again).

We await Thursday’s election to see who will by Mayor of London on May 4th.

We have a meeting fixed with Jeremy Newsum, chairman of the College Syndicate (the sub-committee overseeing the Imperial West development).  We will be doing our persuade to persuade him that the College needs to rethink and improve the design of the scheme. We will also be briefing him on our plans for a St Quintin and Woodlands Neighbourhood Forum and Plan, including the Woodlands site.  See at



RBKC oppose Imperial West proposals

The Royal Borough’s Planning Applications Committee on April 3rd discussed the planning application for Phase 2 of Imperial West.  Councillors came out strongly against the proposals, and the officers report to the committee was critical of several aspects of the plans.

The committee report can be seen here.   A copy of this will have gone to Hammersmith & Fulham as the planning authority for the application.  How much notice LBHF councillors will take of it remains to be seen.  But it should have at least some influence, and will add to pressure on the next Mayor for London to review the scheme at Stage 2 of GLA consideration.

RB Kensington & Chelsea operate an independent Architectural Appraisal Panel.  This looks at proposed major developments affecting the Borough.  This Panel has also reviewed the Imperial West application, and its report can be seen here 120314_AAP_Report.

The Panel on this occasion was chaired by distinguished architect Will Alsop. Its members were not impressed by the quality of design for the scheme, saying that ‘there was no attempt at placemaking and promoting a built form that felt it was part of a university campus’

We would strongly support the Panel’s views that ’the proposal was more the result of a commercial masterplan’ and that ‘overall… there was more to be done to overcome the sense that much of the development was not university related’.

We have asked Imperial College for the opportunity to attend the next College Council meeting, to try to persuade College Council members that they could come up with a far better set of proposals.  If the College is willing to lower its commercial expectations for the site, to reduce mass and height, and to plan a coherent set of buildings with the genuine feel of a university campus, then there would be a chance of creating a real asset for this part of London.  If nothing changes, we remain of the view that Imperial West will prove a ‘Folly’ for decades to come.

Residents may have noted a feature in last Friday’s Evening Standard magazine, reflecting on the number and size of current commercial developments in West London.  This included comments on the Imperial West proposals, as the ‘most contentious’ of current applications.  It shows that we are not alone in thinking that the scheme will be dominated by what looks like ‘a rather dated tower block’.  The whole article can be found here.