Friday, 9 September 2011

Hammersmith redevelopment: Public meeting called

Save Our Skyline launch meeting - October 2010
A public meeeting has been called by the Save Our Skyline campaign group, composed of residents implaccably opposed to our Council's plans to, wait for it, allow developers to build two towers of luxury flats in and around King Street W6.

The plan involves, controversially, a bridge to link the luxury flats to Furnival Gardens, which was the park the Council claimed to be protecting from vandals Thames Water but would actually be ripped up by this development and reduced by a third.

All so the residents of the flats dont have to mix with the hoy polloy and cross King Street by foot. Bless their cottons.

And all of this, so that the Council can have some nice new offices to work in, with the reconstruction of the Town Hall being financed by the flats.

Save Our Skyline are clearly not a bunch of residents to be trifled with - since their first public meeting which I reported on in October last year they have been joined by English Heritage, Colin Firth and Ralph Fiennes among others in opposing the plans. They oppose them on the grounds that the Council doesn't need new offices, Furnival Gardens should be protected as a valuable green space and that to destroy some of the other buildings in the plans, such as the 1930s cineworld cinema to make way for a Tescos supermarket of all things is, they say, nothing short of vandalism.

Greenhalgh at SOS meeeting - Oct 2010
To give him his credit Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh turned up at that meeting, which had well over 400 people present on a cold October evening, and faced the music. That does take guts. And he promised to "listen" and reflect on what the residents had had to say that night, in speech after thunderous speech led by John Jones, a barrister who chairs the group. The problem is the very next day he submitted the plans to developers without a single change.

Now the SOS group is responding to what they regard as the very slight adjustments that have been made by developers King Street Developments, or Grainger and Helical Bar as they are usually known, to reduce the height of the towers by a couple of floors. They are calling on residents to launch a writing-in campaign to underline the extent of local opposition to the scheme. Here's what the indomitable John Jones has to say:
“The derisory tinkering to this unwanted development highlights the contemptuous attitude of the Council and its development partners to the real concerns of local residents and community groups as expressed through over 700 letters of objection. 

“This revised scheme does nothing to address the overdevelopment, excessive height, damage to Furnivall Gardens and the riverside, demolition of the much-loved cinema and eviction of some of our community’s blind and most vulnerable members. Furthermore, our survey of local retailers shows that, far from fuelling regeneration as the Council promises, this scheme will further damage a significant proportion of local businesses. 

“It is vital for residents to attend the SOS meeting on 27 September to hear what they must do to combat this barmy scheme.”

English Heritage are unimpressed too, they spake thus in March this year:

“English Heritage considers that the proposals will cause considerable harm to the historic environment including the setting of both these listed buildings, to the visual character and appearance of the conservation areas, and to the longer views across and along the river Thames. This is because the proposals are not in keeping with the established riparian historic environment in this locality.....

“.....We believe that the disproportionate impact these proposals will have upon heritage assets, their settings and the wider historic environment is not acceptable......

“.....We recommend that the proposals are fundamentally reconsidered in light of the above comments, particularly concerning the height and mass of the new buildings associated with the proposal for the footbridge and the considerable harm they will cause to the setting of all heritage assets in the locality.”
View from Dalling Rd of the Towers - SOS pic
The public meeting is on 27th September at Rivercourt Methodist Church, King Street W6, just west of the Town Hall. It will be the last public meeting before the actual planning meeting which, based on every other planning meeeting I have attended of this Council, it will be nodded through while the beefy security guards look on.

This clearly doesnt have an immediately obvious link to Shepherd's Bush - but consider the way in which Orion the developers are apparently being allowed to build seven floors of luxury flats on top of our Market, and to flatten some historic buildings - again despite public assurances to the contrary given by the same Stephen Greenhalgh at another public meeting - and you begin to see what might happen here too.

And in any case if, as it very much seems, the majority of local people are against this scheme - for the Council to press ahead anyway is surely undemocratic. And that's a problem.

I did ask the Council for comment but a spokesperson told me that as it was a live application they didn't feel it was appropriate, which is fair enough.


  1. Chris, please make no apologies for covering stories in Hammersmith. I believe it was me searching Google for SOS which originally led me to your site back in January! And I've not missed a story since... If it's within the borough, it seems fair game.

  2. What's that hammering and sawing noise I can hear all the way over here in Melbourne?

    Ah yes, it's Satan constructing a whole new Hell for the Tories of Hammersmith and Fulham council.

  3. Come to the public meeting about the proposed Town Hall development. It's on Tuesday, 27 September, 7.00pm at the Riverside Methodist church, King St, just west of the Town Hall.

  4. Not only King Street and Bush, but also the West Ken estate over here in W14. It'll be great to live on a giant building site for the next twenty years...

  5. blog.