A CGI of Holly House viewed from Chiswick High Road looking west. Picture: Simpson Haugh
January 6, 2023
A 24-storey high tower block next to Chiswick Roundabout has been recommended for approval by council planners.
Councillors will receive a report from officers at the borough planning meeting next Thursday (12 January) which argues that the acknowledged harms the building of Holly House will cause are outweighed by its benefits.
The building will contain 252 flats as well as office space and retail space in the podium.
The site has vacant for many years and has been the subject of numerous planning applications. More recently, a proposal for a taller building, the Chiswick Curve, was rejected on appeal to the Secretary of State in 2019. An earlier plan for The Citadel which was lower in height than the current scheme was consented but was never constructed.
The planning officer’s reports acknowledges that there will be considerable harm to views in the area including at Strand on the Green, Gunnersbury Park and Kew Gardens but states that the ‘significant and numerous’ benefits of the scheme, including helping meet the shortfall in housing in the area, should be given greater weight.
It is also contended that the planning policy position for the site has materially changed as it now falls into the Great West Corridor Opportunity Area and permission has been given for schemes in its immediate vicinity including at Capital Interchange Way, Larch Drive (B&Q) and the Brentford Community Stadium. Despite this Holly House would still be the tallest building in the immediate area by a significant margin at nearly 90 metres high.
The report states, “The area around the site, and the Golden Mile, is undergoing significant transformation, driven by the designation of the Great West Corridor as an Opportunity Area by the London Plan. This designation underpins ambitious growth in this part of the Borough and will see the delivery of large number of new homes and jobs.”
There were 75 objections to the proposal from individuals as well as those from local resident and heritage groups. The West Chiswick and Gunnersbury Society, Strand on the Green Association (SoGA) and Brentford Voice raised the Secretary of State’s decision on the Chiswick Curve as being relevant.
SOGA in its objection said, “This proposal would cause substantial harm and the application does not present a compelling public benefit argument which would outweigh this harm. Moreover, the harm caused by this proposal is at a level equivalent to the earlier Chiswick Curve proposal whilst offering even less public benefit than that scheme.”
CGI showing building looking over Strand on the Green. Picture: Starbones Ltd
The planners dismissed the argument saying that Holly House is eight storeys lower and “a much improved and more suitable design” the Chiswick Curve.
Royal Botanical Gardens Kew said, “We object strongly to the proposed building due to the harmful visual impact it will have on the setting of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and in particular the setting of the Grade I listed Orangery, and the potential impact on the Grade I listed Palm House, which are both key attributes of the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage site. The proposed building would visually intrude into parts of the garden largely unaffected by modern development at the present time.”
Historic England also objected to the development on the grounds of the ‘marked harm’ it would cause to the World Heritage Site at Kew as well as the Strand on the Green Conservation Area particularly when viewed from the opposite side of the Thames.
The report acknowledges that the scheme will have a detrimental impact on the area stating, “The development would continue to cause harm to the settings of some heritage assets, including Strand on the Green and Kew Green Conservation Areas. This is important, and great weight should be attached to those harms. The National Planning Policy Framework sets out that in such circumstances, a balance needs to be undertaken, considering the great weight that should be afforded to heritage harm against the public benefits that the development would bring forward.”
Objections on the grounds of a lack of capacity at Gunnersbury Station were dismissed because TfL has sought a contribution towards improvements to the station to help mitigate additional usage.
The flats will be situated on the 3rd floor to the 23rd floor. Every third floor from the 5th floor upwards includes a communal garden ranging from 311sqm to 546 sqm in size.
The site at which the Holly House would be built
Eighty-three flats in the development are classed as affordable which is 31.7% of the total or 35% by habitable room. 70% of the affordable housing would be provided as social rent and 30% as intermediate tenures and these will be concentrated on the lower floors of the development.
The pedestrian accesses into Holly House would be from the eastern side of the building facing Gunnersbury Avenue. Vehicles will access through a new junction on Larch Drive by the A4. The building will have two basement parking levels with 50 spaces which will be accessed by car lifts.
The planning committee will also consider an application for a 4-metre-high advertising screen on the side of the building.
Councillors will vote on whether to accept the officer’s recommendation at the planning meeting and, if approved, then permission will be granted subject to necessary planning conditions and planning obligations as well as the signing of a legal agreement between the council and the developer.
You can see full details of the application in the planning section of the council’s website by searching for reference P/2021/3510.
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