Essential Living’s planning application for the redevelopment of the Morrisons’s site in Brentford was passed by the Planning Committee on Thursday, April 6, with 7 councillor voting in favour and four against.
Report from Brentford TW8 website
At the beginning of the meeting, the developer, Essential Living (EL) made a presentation in which they said there was no issue with sunlight and that there is, as yet, no guarantee that a supermarket will be on the site (although EL said they are in negotiations with Lidl).
Nick Kilby, local resident and member of Friends of St Paul’s Recreation Ground then spoke out against the development, making the following points:
- The Local Plan states 75% residential and 25% retail and this development is the reverse (24:76). EL bought the site two days after this was published and he wondered what assurances may have been given about what would be deemed acceptable for the site. There are no valid reasons for this ratio reversal and the application should be rejected on this alone.
- The development is overbearing, too dense and will cause harm to St Paul’s conservation area. It does not conserve and enhance the character of the area as the Local Plan advises.
- The additional floor in block B exacerbates the negative impact on the locally listed Beehive public house. [As this is locally listed rather than nationally listed there is no statutory duty to take specific note of the impact of any development].
- While the loss of sunlight is negligible in March, when EL’s calculations are made the school will suffer a serious loss direct sunlight during some two thirds of the school year, notably the winter months. The overshadowing will have a considerable effect.
- Morrisons currently sees 23,000 visitors per week. There is no solution to the temporary loss of a supermarket during the construction period and a shuttle bus three times a day to the nearest Tesco is not going to solve this. A local supermarket is vital to those without cars and/or with mobility issues. A shuttle bus three times a day is not going to cover it. Temporary parking should be provided as well to stop the whole of the high street being threatened during construction.
- The public response to this application has been overwhelming with over 3000 signatures to the petitions. Brentford residents aren’t against development and would welcome suitable applications.
Councillor Mel Collins asked for further clarifications about sunlight study. The rough estimate was that the playground would be out of direct sunlight for three quarters of the academic year. Nick added that if planning permission wasn’t granted there was no reason why Morrisons couldn’t renew their lease when it expires next June. The supermarket is currently viable.
Marilyn Smith, Head of Development Management, then briefly presented the officer’s report highlighting the following:
- As The Beehive and St Paul’s School are locally listed they do not get special consideration.
- Urban design will be much enhanced. Five retail units will be added rather than just the supermarket so there is an improvement in the public offer.
- Brentford will gain a small square you can walk through and the vista up to St Paul’s church spire.
- When Ballymore gets built there will be a tall multi-storey car park south of Morrisons (on W&K site)
- There is no loss of a supermarket as it will be replaced. There are many small retailers such as the local Sainsbury’s suitable for top up shopping.
- The Local Plan is not inviolable. All the differing needs must be taken into consideration. Hounslow needs to find space for affordable housing across the borough.
- The site has a high PTAL of 4 [access to public transport] which makes it a good location for added amenities and less important for residents to have cars.
- Brentford needs regeneration desperately and this will contribute. Maximising development on a brownfield site is in accordance with the London Plan.
- PRS is new to Hounslow and is providing 55 ‘affordable’ flats. The rest are not going to be sold to overseas developers and be left empty.
- The applicants have offered to work with Friends of St Paul’s Rec to improve the park and replace the railings [cries of “that’s new to us” from members of Friends in the audience].
- There is sufficient daylight for the school children.
- Albany Parade has a car park as does the high street, along with on street car parking.
Coucillor Guy Lambert said the current playground could be three times the size in order to meet current numbers of children at some times of the day. He got confirmation that Lidl would be the predominant supermarket. Mel asked about 40% affordable which Marilyn said was not viable.
Cllr Tony Louki asked why are we considering anything over six storeys. Marilyn explained that Policy CC3 says a limited number of tall buildings (over 20m) are allowed in town centres. Ballymore have two of them within its development. The two blocks south of Morrisons will be five and seven storeys right up to the high street.
Cllr Sheila O’Reilly asked whether this is what the rest of Brentford will look like, referring to tall narrow alleys down to the waterway. Ballymore will look very similar.
Cllr Louki said the site should be considered along with the adjacent police site and the Watermans site as a whole. He appreciates the view of the Beehive as he passes through. Six storeys is more than enough. He added that there was no absolute guarantee that we would get a supermarket at the end of this and will be voting against.
Cllr Collins said that he couldn’t support this. It’s a gross violation of the local plan. The residential provision has changed for the worse and what was taken off one block has been added elsewhere. He added that we don’t know what would happen to the supermarket lease if this application had not come in. Brentford councillors have been pushing for a temporary supermarket site right from the start.
Cllr Lambert said that he had no problem with the PRS model, with the concept of Essential Living and that he welcomed their engagement with the community. But this is not in line with the local plan, there is not sufficient affordable housing and it is overbearing. He would vote against.
At which point the application was voted through with Cllr Khulique Malik abstaining.
The late addendum to the meeting added the point that “The applicant has also indicated a willingness to provide a contribution in-kind towards upgrading St Paul’s Recreation Ground, to include assisting with the restoration of the water fountain, supplying and planting trees to assist with the planting initiative and assisting with the refurbishment of the railings” which would be secured in S106.
Darryl Flay, chief executive at Essential Living, said: ‘We are delighted with last night’s decision. We believe there is a tremendous opportunity to invest significantly in the regeneration of Brentford high street. Essential Living will continue to work in partnership with the local community to deliver high quality housing for rent alongside exciting new retail space local people can be proud of.’
Visit planning.hounslow.gov.uk and enter P/2016/5573 in System Reference.