Save our Skyline is the name of a new campaign launched by residents against our Council's plans to reshape Hammersmith town centre, starting with the redevelopment of the Town Hall but extending to the whole of King Street. A public meeting has been called in opposition to the plans and a leaflet already published and distributed to 5,000 homes
The public meeting has been called for 7pm, 13 October at Rivercourt Methodist Church, King Street W6 9JT. The campaign has a website which you can find here.
Regular readers of this blog will know that residents have in the past forced even this council to back down in the end, and as Tory general election Shaun Bailey knows to his cost it can cost them political power too.
So they will doubtless be concerned by the new group, who describe themselves as "a concerned group of Hammersmith residents and amenity societies", who yesterday launched a campaign against the Council’s plans to redevelop the Hammersmith Town Hall area. The campaign, which includes the dedicated website has already distributed an information leaflet showing the visual impact of the proposed plans, and the public meeting on 13 October is intended to further raise awareness of these plans and to encourage the Council to think again.
The campaigners say already there has been significant opposition to the Council’s plans. Over 15 local amenity groups have expressed their reservations and objections to LBHF about the current proposals, including the Hammersmith Society, Hammersmith and FulhamHistoric Buildings Group, Hammersmith Mall Residents Association, Ravenscourt Society and Brackenbury Residents Association, among others.
Residents accuse the Council and their development partners of not giving residents a true and fair picture of the nature of the development
They say the size and scale of this development is totally out of character with the area, and will have a negative impact on surrounding conservation areas, overshadow the historic river frontage and deprive the adjacent Marryat Court of natural light
They point out that the Council’s development design brief indicated a maximum height of seven storeys – the same as the current Town Hall Extension - it is now promoting a development over twice as high.
John Jones, spokesperson for Save Our Skyline, said:
“We believe that the plans as they stand are seriously flawed. This high-rise, high-density development will have a disastrous impact on this historic area of Hammersmith. The Town Hall is surrounded by no less than six conservation areas; the development is completely out of character and out of proportion with all of these. The views published by the Council and their development partners have been partial and misleading, and consultation with residents has been low-key and minimal. The vast majority of residents have absolutely no idea of the real impact of the proposals.
“We are also concerned that there is an inherent conflict of interest in the Council having the authority to approve these controversial plans. In particular, we would like to ask the Council why - given their original brief that the project should not exceed the height of the existing Town Hall extension – they are now backing tower blocks over twice as high? This will have an irreparable impact on the area and set a dangerous precedent for future high-rise development.
“The forced eviction of the tenants from the Thomas Pocklington Trust building, in particular the nine blind people, will be highly traumatic.
“Hammersmithers already live every day with the legacy of inappropriate and outsize eyesores such as the Broadway, Kings Mall, the Premier Inn, and the current Town Hall extension. We say enough is enough!”
Yet the Council are prepared to fight this one, with a spokesman telling me today that:
"it would be disingenuous to argue that this scheme is unpopular. 78 per cent of respondents, at a three day public exhibition in June, agreed that the overall scheme would have a positive impact on Hammersmith town centre."
"The latest proposals that King Street Developments have been showing to residents and amenity groups are the culmination of years of consultation. Doing nothing is not a good option as King Street will continue to decline - in the face of competition from Westfield, Ealing and other town centres - and it would cost millions to extend the life of the council's ugly town hall extension which is on its last legs".
The developers themselves, King Street Developments added:
"After over two years of engagement with the local community, including many of the members of the group, and local residents and businesses, we are confident that the forthcoming application is the best way to deliver the wholesale regeneration of this part of King Street. This is backed up by the feedback we have had throughout, culminating in our event in June this year: over 1,000 people were able to review the proposals in detail, including two models showing the scheme in context, and 78% of those who responded said that they 'agreed' or 'strongly agreed' the plans would have a positive impact on the town centre."
So a Battle Royal we shall have, pitting residents once again against their council. So what's all this got to do with the Bush? Our Council have far reaching plans to redevelop Shepherd's Bush Green including the pulling down of a lot of trees, despite this being contrary to the Mayor of London's pledge to keep trees standing. Like most of Boris' pledges this isn't something he'll fight particularly hard to protect you would think but there are real local concerns. So not only do we all use Hammersmith and have an interest in the outcome there, but it presages what is likely to take place in the Bush too. So watch both spaces.