Friends of St Paul’s Recreation Speaks Out

Criticises proposed neighbouring developments on Morrisons and Police sites

A packed public meeting at St Paul’s Church on Friday 27th January heard about a proposed development at Morrisons store on Brentford High Street and also plans for the Watermans, Max Factor and police station sites. 

Martin Case, head of Friends of St Paul’s Recreation spoke out. Here’s his speech in full:

The proposed plans for the Morrisons site if current proposal is granted will rip the heart out of the Brentford community for a period of at least two years and cause significant deterioration to the quality of life in the town for both residents and business.

Where are local people to shop while this site is being developed? What contingency planning has been agreed to support the missing supermarket while building occurs?

Does the council advocate the use of cars making short journeys to Tesco’s in Osterley thereby adding to the already poor air quality of Brentford let alone the additional traffic problems this will generate?

We are not against the development of sites in Brentford, but we are keen they should first be proportional, and second be subject to more joined up thinking from planning.

As such they should not be viewed in isolation but provide viable and sustainable assets for the community of Brentford.

Assets which complement existing provision and celebrate Brentford by adopting appropriate proportions in keeping with neighbouring buildings and reflecting St Paul’s conservation area on which it borders.

Whilst we don’t wish to stifle development we would ask for much more careful control and positive management of change, to ensure the development accords with the area’s special architectural or historic interest.
To that end we are concerned with the appropriateness of the overall massing of the Morrisons site development, its scale, proportions and its relationship within its context i.e. whether it sits comfortably.

The design is very similar to other new development in the area, however we believe more thought is required on aesthetics and materials thereby giving more regard to Brentford’s history which are historically dominant in the area. This is of the utmost importance, as is the need for the development not to have a visually disruptive impact on the existing townscape.

We are extremely concerned with the height of the proposed Morrisons development. Although the developer has reduced the height in their new planning application it is still, in our opinion, too much mass. Their planning application “visual impact” document illustrates this.

The proposed development is over-bearing, out-of-scale and out of character in terms of its appearance compared with existing development in the vicinity. Its proposed height will seriously reduce the loss of all natural direct sunlight from November through until early March over St Paul’s School, St Paul’s Church, the Recreation Ground and surrounding properties all of which sit within the St Paul’s conservation area.

It’s vital the recreation ground flourishes as it provides the only local free open green space for promoting the health and well-being of not only current but new and future residents of the area and as a benefit to the whole community.

As well as our concern to the loss of natural light we also believe should the current proposed development be given approval this will raise a further issue from light pollution or obtrusive light at night, which can be a source of annoyance to people and harmful to wildlife.

We would respectfully suggest alongside their daytime study the developer also prepare a night time impact document showing their visuals from a night-time perspective.

Along with the proposed Morrisons development the Police station and Watermans sites the number of flats proposed will put severe strain upon an already creaking local infrastructure, especially schools, medical and transport.

The council will be abdicating its duty to current residents and council tax payers to say this is out of their control. Permitting or not permitting such schemes which is the cause of the strain, is entirely within their control.
In addition with other proposed developments in Brentford the lack of parking for the 200 plus proposed flats within the Morrisons scheme will cause additional serious parking issues in the area which is already over stretched.
It is naïve and negligent to suggest that residents will not be permitted cars and will only use car clubs or public transport. We are concerned if the CPZ is opened up to these developments in the future we will be swamped with cars.

There have been far too many individual commissioned reports on developments in the past making various assumptions in isolation of each other, when what’s required is a holistic approach. As such we’ve lost our way and have no clear direction or vision anymore.

What’s needed is a direction which fits with the needs and requirements of the community. On the surface it would appear there is no meaningful town centre plan and no planning briefs to guide developers and to measure applications.

What does the community want?  How do we know?  Are decisions being taken with the community at the heart of them?  Decisions for Brentford by Brentford?  Do we need to challenge accepted definitions and norms to achieve what is right for Brentford?

For example the planners’ designation of a two-bedroom flat being a ‘family’ dwelling, or the counting in of balcony space as outside space?

Is there cohesion between existing landscape, recently redeveloped and proposed developments – how do proposed developments serve the existing community and compliment the current landscape – do they enrich and serve?

How do they promote the diversity of Brentford – across all demographics?

We deserve a clear vision where all assumptions are challenged and answered collectively by both local government and the community working together.

We demand a vision for Brentford in the future seen as the whole community – young, old, with or without children.

Whilst the ‘fabric’ of the community may need to be improved, the ‘heart’ and ‘diversity’ of the community do not – they are alive and well!

In other words, Brentford needs to be celebrated and encouraged.  Brentford and its community is unique and vibrant and doesn’t seek to be an imitation or copy of any other borough or area of London.

Development should seek to foster, serve and enrich the existing foundations, not to remould or reshape.

The Council will be guilty of dereliction of duty if it approves these plans as currently proposed as the nature of the proposal will significantly impact not only upon a conservation area but the whole of Brentford.

Therefore we urge council planners and the developer to give serious consideration to the points made and revise their plans accordingly.

Finally, what support is Hounslow Council providing to the residents of Brentford to ensure our needs are met and what stance will they take to ensure the developers comply with our overall objections?

February 3, 2017

http://www.brentfordtw8.com/default.asp?section=info&page=plmorrisons008.htm

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