'Technology led' project of 258 flats and hotel 'does not yet comply' with London Plan
The Showcase area seen from the elevated M4 near Chiswick Roundabout
The Greater London Assembly (GLA) has against raised serious concerns over the major development at the B&Q site near Chiswick Roundabout, known as 'The Fourth Mile'. One of its main concerns is that the development does not 'undermine existing town centres'. It also raises the question of the potential harm to local heritage assets.
In an interim report, the GLA says whilst the scheme is
generally acceptable in principle, the application does not yet fully comply with the London Plan and the Intend to Publish London Plan.
The report says that in terms of the height and massing of the development, further urban design work and justification is required to address these issues.
On Heritage: "The proposal would result in less than substantial harm to the Strand on the Green Conservation Area and Grade II and II* Listed buildings, at 64-71 Strand on the Green, the Gunnersbury Park Conservation Area, the Kew Gardens designations and the Grade I Listed Orangery as an asset in its own right. However, insufficient information has been provided to assess the impact on Kew Green Conservation Area."
The GLA also says that as proposed, the affordable housing provision does not currently qualify for consideration under the Fast Track Route. The development should reconsider the location of the proposed child play space.
"The applicant should provide further information on energy efficiency savings, the proposed Centralised heat pump system and PV provision. The shortfall in CO2 reductions should be met through an offset contribution. The applicant is required to provide water efficiency information on the non-residential components of the development.
And on transport issues, further work is required towards highway alterations, improved bus capacity and work on infrastructure capacity at Gunnersbury Station is likely to be required. Further work was needed on feasibility work on new pedestrian crossings, a Car
Parking Management Plan, Taxi, cycle parking, delivery and servicing and a travel plan should also be addressed."
The current plan for the site at Larch Road, is for a stepped development with the tallest building being sixteen storeys and the developer has asked for an increase from 238 to 258 flats.
Last year Hounslow Council, the GLA and Transport for London (TFL) raised concerns over height, massing, and public transport, and the outline plans reduced the tallest building from seventeen to sixteen storeys.
Reef developers submitted their planning application for the project which they are branding as 'The Fourth Mile' several months ago.
The plans show four main buildings in the mixed use development - the Technology Showcase, the Residential, the Retail and a Hotel, are all centred around a central plaza dubbed Hudson Square.
The 'Fourth Mile' is derived from the horizon being three miles away on flat terrain and therefore the fourth mile represents looking beyond the horizon. This is meant to symbolise the futuristic intent of the scheme.
Local councillor Joanna Biddolph (Turnham Green) has raised concerns that the development would create a segregated area away from Chiswick. "We are turning our community-driven low-rise area into a series of high rise ghettos on its fringes."
The developers say that they acted on feedback from the Local Authority received last May and amended the design. They say in their design statement, "Residential blocks and the Hotel are now angled away from, rather than parallel to, most of the Site perimeter. Massing on the angle, creates more depth and interest in the surrounding views from Gunnersbury Cemetery and Power Road approach and reduces the appearance of a continuous perimeter to the scheme."
View from Strand on the Green
They said that assessment of 360 degree views, especially from the Kew Orangery and Strand on the Green, had resulted in the most recent adjustments to the scheme heights. The showcase block has decreased by three storeys - it is now 10 storeys at its highest.
A view of the Hudson Square
A roof passenger drone landing pad on the Showcase building, electric car charging points, an underground car-park , a gym for residents, communal recreational space for home-workers, and a chef's kitchen where food from the edible garden can be cooked, are all features of the ultra-modern development.
Residents get 1,675m2 of communal amenity podium space offering bookable pavilions for a range of uses from gym or yoga studio, a play space & parents lounge and ‘work-from-home’ facilities. The plans for student accommodation and a small cinema were dropped at an earlier phase.
There are three blocks of rental accommodation ranging from 16 to 8 storeys high. The 258 flats will be located in a 12-storey (83 flats) and 13-storey (99 flats) and 16-storey block (76 flats) of which 40% are affordable apartments or 47% affordable habitable.
Possible view from Gunnersbury
The hotel will decrease by two storeys in height from sixteen to fourteen, and will be a four-star instead of a three-star offering, with a walkway to link it to the Showcase area. The hotel will now have 219 rooms ( instead of 220) with a pedestrian entry off Larch Drive.
The concept behind the 33,000m sq. technology Showcase, described as the world’s first integrated Technology Showcase experience, is to create a venue for industry experts to come together "to imagine and create the future of mobility." The Showcase is also connected with the public square at the ground floor level.
The developers say that the scheme will lead to 1,500 jobs and apprenticeships with in excess of 2,000 jobs during the construction stage.
View from Gunnersbury Park
The Fourth Mile is located to the north of Chiswick Roundabout, the site is bordered by the Great West Road, Larch Drive, the North Circular Road and Gunnersbury Park to the north. It is approximately 1.6 hectares in size. The site was once home to the Hudson Motor Company and played a key role in the industrial formation of the Great West Road, with purpose built premises for the company established on the site in 1926.
Aerial view of the site
How the height outline of buildings has changed
The developer says they have responded to GLA comments by providing a connection to the south west through the Technology Showcase, and increased entry points around Larch Drive and North Circular/Gunnersbury Avenue. TfL had said it was unhappy with the proposed 500 car parking spaces and with the methodology used to determine the impact on traffic flows and the developer says it has responded to this by reducing car parking and adding new pedestrian and cycle routes.
The original plan and the current plan for the square
The public square in the most up to date image
Explaining the name The Fourth Mile, the developers say: "Looking into the distance, the horizon is a little more than 3 miles away. This project is titled the ‘Fourth Mile’ to describe the visionary, future-thinking nature of the development, looking out beyond the 3rd mile. The Fourth Mile encompasses the unique Technology Showcase, complementary retail and hotel elements and 258 apartments with enviable amenities and green space."
Image of scheme released by the developer
It is expected that between 15-25 tech companies will occupy the showcase including new entrants into the market. Reef say that the hotel is a key part of the overall scheme, supporting anticipated business conferences and tourist demand.
Aerial sketch of Hudson development
If planning is approved it is anticipated that a start date would be in 2021/22 with completion 2024/25.
Councillor Joanna Biddolph whose Turnham Green ward the development falls within, said she was concerned " the developers are building a separate world - in Chiswick but segregated from Chiswick. The name, Fourth Mile, has nothing to do with Chiswick or the location and everything to do with marketing this new world to technology visitors. As one of the councillors for Turnham Green ward, I’d like to welcome residents, and visitors, to Chiswick and encourage them to spend time in Chiswick enjoying all that Chiswick offers."
She was concerned about the impact on infrastructure - such as on GPs, schools and transport especially Gunnersbury tube station and buses.
"This is one of the most polluted spots in London, at the corner of Gunnersbury Avenue, the A406 North Circular, which is the UK’s most congested road; on Chiswick roundabout which is regularly gridlocked and heavily polluted; and beside the near constant traffic on the A4/M4. The plans show some imaginative ways to reduce pollution in the Hudson Square open space and by putting the technology showcase building alongside the A4/M4. I hope they are as effective as they need to be.
"I am not convinced by the view from Strand on the Green. It seems to me to be about as realistic as the view of Hudson Square bathed in sunshine; given the height of the buildings around it, it will be sunny fleetingly in the middle of the day. The proposals paint an idyllic view; the reality will, I believe, be very different. The view that is realistic is the one showing the buildings squeezed into the plot. This is an over-development. I find it ugly, too, with yet more style-free buildings in grey, putty or brown. "
She said it would not give residents of the development or visitors any little reason to step beyond its boundary.
"It's an opportunity missed, particularly as we need more customers in our wonderful range of shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants. With large developments being progressed on Capital Interchange Way, and whatever comes next on the site of the proposed Chiswick Curve, and other sites marked for development we are turning our community-driven low rise area into a series of high rise ghettos on its fringes. "
March 21, 2020