Tuesday 2 October 2007

Public Misled Over H&F Council's Hammersmith Grove Armadillo Meetings

H&F Council officers have confirmed that the application to build a eleven storey office and entertainment complex on Hammersmith Grove could go to Planning Committee as early as 30th October. If not, they expect it to have almost certainly been considered for permission by the end of November. Officials also said that they will continue to accept comments or objections to the proposal, which you can still send by clicking here.

However, there now seems to be a rather concerning level of disparity about how much contact Hammersmith and Fulham Council have had with Development Securities (the property developer) about the scheme. Cllr. Mark Loveday (Con), H&F Council’s Cabinet Member for Strategy, posted this item about the planning application on the Hammersmith Today Forum on 18th September 2007, "Like anyone else, they [Development Securities] don't have to consult with the Council or the public before submitting a planning application, and they didn't. The Council was presented with their proposals without any real advance notice. Perhaps had they spoken to us first, we would have told them what would and would not work.” You can read Cllr. Loveday's full comments here.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, I have now been sent a document listing the schedule of meetings between H&F Council officials, councillors and Development Securities. It contradicts Cllr. Loveday's comments as there have, in fact, been eleven meetings to date between our council and the property developer, with the first taking place on 15th November 2006.

Development Securities won the contract to build on the TfL site in the autumn of 2006. They submitted the application on the 25th May 2007 and it was validated on 10th August 2007. A Council official wrote to me to explain “There have been a number of meetings at which Development Securities' team have presented their scheme to officers for informal pre-application comment, prior to submitting a planning application. Various officers of the Environment department (Planning and Highways divisions) have been present.” Here’s the schedule:

Schedule of Meetings between Development Securities and H&F Council
  • 15th November 2006 2.00pm. Three H&F Council officers present
  • 11th December 2006 2.00pm. Four H&F Council officers present
  • 26th January 2007 2.00pm. Six H&F Council officers present
  • 20th March 2007 2.30pm. Six H&F Council officers present
  • 12th June 2007 2.00pm. Three H&F Council officers present
  • 15th June 2007 11.00am. Exhibition of scheme attended by Cllr. Stephen Greenhalgh (Con), Cllr. Nicholas Botterill (Con). One H&F Council officers present
  • 27th June 2007 4.30, Cllr. Stephen Greenhalgh (Con), Cllr Nicholas Botterill (Con) and Cllr. Frances Stainton (Con) and four H&F Council officers present
  • 6th July 2007 2.30pm. Five H&F Council officers present
I am told by officials that have been six further meetings since.

I have also met with the developer to be briefed on their plan as previously reported. While it is understandable for Administration Councillors or officials to do likewise, I have written to the Director of the Environment to find out what was on the agenda for each and every meeting, what was discussed and what (if anything) was agreed.

Many residents have contacted me to express their concerns about the size of the building, the effect this development would have on the transition from town centre to the residential area, extra traffic, parking problems and extra noise. And, many have expressed fears that planning permission will be given for this scheme in much the same way as it was for the recent Larden and Percy Road luxury housing development.

I am in consultation with a numbers of residents’ groups about a public meeting and will let you know if we think it will be useful to hold one. Please email me here if you wish to attend any potential meetings about this. I'll keep you posted.


Anonymous said...

I thought it was 12 storeys rather than 10 - but, whatever, it is very high. It's also very, very fat. It's a funny shape, like a spaceship has landed. This is not irrelevant and should be added to the reasons against.

Whatever your views about modern architecture there are measures to judge the suitability of a building, and one of those is its neighbourliness with other buildings in its vicinity. Or otherwise in this case.

This proposed building is overbearing and domineering. It shouts, 'Look at me! How important I am.' It is completely out of step with Lyric Square which was designed to bear some relationship to its Victorian surroundings.
The NCP building, on the other hand, is not in conversation with its neighbours at all.

I am concerned that adjustments may be made to the height and scale of the existing proposal in order to get it past the planners - but that the basic bulbous nature of the building may be retained.

It's not the right building for this site. We need a completely new design, one that complements and enhances the existing town centre - not sneers at it.

Anonymous said...

This is very illuminating!!! Thank you.

Anonymous said...

And what about the hideous traffic problems this huge block will cause? Hammersmith is already one of the most congested and polluted areas in the UK?

Has the Council got an undertaking from London Transport to increase the number of trains along the District, and Hammersmith and City lines? I rather think not. The Piccadilly is full to bursting point during rush hours anyway.

So how are all the expected 4000 office workers going to be transported?

Anonymous said...

I agree with all the above comments. I think it is far too big, ugly, doesn't fit in with the surrounding area and I'm extremely concerned about traffic and an even more congested Hammersmith. I really cannot see how the pros can possibly out weigh the cons and feel betrayed by the council for keeping its residents (who should be their primary concern) in the dark.

I agree, the carpark could do with being developed into something but think it should be redesigned to suit the environment and the people who have to live with it. The Lyric square has really eveloped a feel of community with the markets and coffee shops and plonking the proposed monstrosity next to it would have a huge knock on effect!

We're already due to have Europe's largest shopping centre down the road in Shepherd'd Bush in October next year - isn't that enough??!!

Please come to the 7pm meeting on Tues 30th Oct at Hammersmith Town Hall where 10 councillors from the planning commitee will consider the councils vote of approval. We as residents can speak up. It may be one of our last chances!