Residents Delighted with Reprieve for 'Bat Corner'

Planning committee rejects TfL's car park plans in surprise move

Residents opposed to the scheme were interviewed by ITV news
Residents opposed to the scheme were interviewed by ITV news

January 14, 2023

Councillors on the Hounslow borough planning committee have delighted residents of the Gunnersbury Park Garden Estate after they rejected a plan for a car park on an area dubbed ‘Bat Corner’.

At a meeting on Thursday (12 January) it was decided to ignore a recommendation from council planning officers that approval should be given to the proposal (P/2022/2638).

TfL wanted to build a car park operating all hours with 59 spaces for staff. It said that the parking was required because existing provision was being lost due to its own development nearby at Bollo Lane.

When residents of the area first became aware of the scheme, a groundswell of opposition quickly grew with the local Residents’ Association also objecting.

People living near the site said that it was a vital source of biodiversity in the area and, as well as being able to see bats at night, migrating birds could be observed. The council officers based their support for the scheme on a wildlife report which stated that, although bats could be seen at the site, it was not a roosting ground. This is disputed by residents who say bat roosts can been seen and furthermore claims in the report that there were no hedgehogs or newts at the site were also incorrect.

The campaign against the plan attracted the attention of ITV who sent a crew down to the site to interview residents in a feature for a lead item on its local news segment.

Visualisation of the car park from documents submitted with the application

Richard Barden, who lives near the proposed development said, “This Car Park would be situated in the middle of a conservation area, the Gunnersbury Park Garden Estate. Aside from the obvious ecological and biodiversity damage that concreting over this wildlife habitat would have done, it would have negatively impacted a lot of residents lives due to the noise & light pollution that a Car Park in use 24 hours a day would create. “

Along with Stephen Peiris and Jonathan Elliott, Mr Barden outlined the objections that local people had to the car park.

Local councillor Joanna Biddolph, who spoke at the meeting against the proposal said, “The application was refused - broadly because committee members didn’t see why Hounslow should solve Ealing’s parking problem. The car park is needed, TfL argued, because its staff car park will be built on as part of the huge Bollo Lane development. Why didn’t Ealing insist TfL find an alternative as part of the Bollo Lane planning application? “

Location of planned car park from the application documents

One of the members of the committee, Cllr John Stroud Turp said, before rejecting the application, “Ealing are in effect dumping their parking problem on Hounslow.”

Nine councillors voted against the scheme with one in favour (Cllr Rhys Williams) and one abstention. Cllr Tony Louki proposed after the vote that ‘green’ uses for the site be investigated with one suggestion being that it could be turned into allotments.

A spokesperson for TfL said that the scheme would ‘benefit overall local biodiversity’ due to planned tree planting and pointed out that some staff needed to travel to work by car when services weren’t operating so the provision of a car park wasn’t inconsistent with its mission of encouraging greener modes of transport.

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