Planning committee votes unanimously to reject Hartington Road proposal
Developer's visualisation of the houses. Picture: Pilbrow and Partners
A controversial proposal to develop housing on a large riverside garden in Grove Park has been turned down by the Hounslow Council planning committee.
Councillors voted unanimously against the development of four houses at the rear of 17 Hartington Road at the meeting on Thursday 6 January despite the recommendation of borough planners that the scheme should be approved.
No Garden Grab, a group of residents opposed to the scheme, had gathered more than 500 signatures, for a petition over 400 of which were online, which was signed by veteran environmental campaigner Jonathon Porritt, and a number of residents spoke against the scheme. A planning consultant engaged by the residents address the meeting along with ward councillor Sam Hearn.
Objectors argued that, in addition to being an important natural defence against surface flooding, the garden is also a major green lung for Grove Park and a prolific wildlife habitat, home to protected species including owls, bats and nesting geese.
Originally the council planners had intended that the scheme be rejected but the developers persuaded the Environment Agency (EA) to redesignate the land on which the housing was to be built to reduce its flood risk classification. This was done on the basis that the original classification had not taken into account the impact of flood defences.
Although there remained a flood risk at the site both from the river and surface water flooding, the council planners had argued that the borough's need for housing necessitated building on such sites.
The No Garden Grab campaign responded to the decision by saying, "We're grateful to the planning committee for such thorough scrutiny of what seemed to us to be a really indefensible application that should never have been recommended for approval. There is still a huge lack of clarity about responsibility for the flood designation. But there is also a bigger story here about how the Environment Agency and the Local Lead Flood Authority (Metis) are unwilling to consult local residents or even answer our questions on such a major issue as local flood risk.
"Developers and planners should not be able to negotiate a flood zone with the EA in secret and it is shocking that the EA has not stood by either of its two original objections. We believe the EA or Metis each should have carried out a thorough site-specific study to understand why the 3B designation existed and was adopted by Hounslow for so many years. We’ve had a strong legal guidance that the presence of tidal defences is not reason alone to downgrade a site to 3a. "
Chiswick Riverside councillor, Sam Hearn said, “The application to build four properties on this crucial site is short sighted to say the least.
“The site is adjacent to the tidal river Thames and is in the heart of an officially recognised flood risk zone. The impact of Climate Change in the form of increased heavy rainfall is already with us and we ignore the warning signs at our peril. The risk of serious surface level flooding on this site and in the surrounding area cannot be ignored or wished away with weasel words in planning committee reports.
"I and my local ward councillor colleagues stand with the local community to protect Grove Park’s largest private garden, and one of its best natural flood defences, from this poorly thought through plan.”
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January 9, 2022